Montclair Film Festival 2020 Program – Drive-in Screenings, Virtual Cinema, Conversations and More

Just like everything in 2020, the 9th annual Montclair Film Festival, taking place October 16-25, will be different, starting with its move to October. What hasn’t changed is MFF’s amazing lineup of films and events.

The full 2020 program features more than 100 offerings — 14 drive-in screenings at Montclair Film’s Carpool Cinema, 34 virtual features, 53 virtual short films, 11 conversations and other special events, including Montclair Film Festival’s Opening, Closing and Centerpiece Films.

Passes and individual tickets are available beginning October 5 for Montclair Film members, and October 8 for the public. To become a member or purchase tickets, visit montclairfilm.org.

“This year’s program is a tribute to the generosity and tenacity of filmmakers from around the world,” said Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall. “These films represent a diverse range of ideas, stories, and experiences, and we hope our audience will take some time to explore the program and come together as a community around the power of cinema.”

This time around, the virtual audience for Montclair Film Festival will grow and change with some films being available only to residents of New Jersey, others to the entire United States, some scheduled for a certain date and time, others available on demand throughout the festival. Patrons will find a full set of information for each film at montclairfilm.org and are urged to check their availability and viewing location prior to purchasing ticket.

Carpool Theater

Montclair Film Festival’s Carpool Cinema, located at 3 Cherry Lane in West Orange, continues with drive-in screenings:

OPENING NIGHT

NOMADLAND

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.

Friday, October 16, 9:30 PM

US KIDS

When a gunman entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018, gruesome images of the deadliest high school shooting in US history quickly emerged. In the massacre’s aftermath, students unite in their frustration at the inaction of elected officials. Over the next month, their actions grow into the nationwide March For Our Lives movement, the largest youth protest in American history. Peabody Award-winning director Kim A. Snyder (NEWTOWN) follows the teenage activists as they fight for gun control and compel the political system into action. Insightful and rousing, US KIDS chronicles a new generation of youth leaders and their remarkable dedication to enact change.

Saturday, October 17, 6:30 PM

FICTION CENTERPIECE
AMMONITE

Ammonite

In 1800s England, acclaimed but unrecognized fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) works alone on the rugged Southern coastline. With the days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now searches for common fossils to sell to tourists to support herself and her ailing mother. When a wealthy visitor entrusts Mary with the care of his wife Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. Proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, Mary initially clashes with her unwelcome guest, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities, an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to determine the true nature of their relationship.

Saturday, October 17, 9:30 PM

FIREBALL: VISITORS FROM DARKER WORLDS

The non-fiction films of director Werner Herzog (GRIZZLY MAN) are a unique body of work that demonstrate how the power of the natural world has both framed and challenged the aspirations of humanity. In the new film FIREBALL: VISITORS FROM DARKER WORLDS, Herzog joins with British volcanologist and co-director Clive Oppenheimer to undertake a globe-trotting exploration of meteors that fell to Earth, both ancient and recent, the powerful impact they have had in shaping civilization, our connection to cosmic time, and the possibilities they harbor for a devastating blow to our fragile planet.

Sunday, October 18, 6:30 PM

THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM

From Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem to the recent wildcat strike by NBA and WNBA players in support of Black Lives Matter, sport has become a powerful platform for Americans to challenge racism. But America is not the first nation to face this reckoning. The story of Adam Goodes, an aboriginal superstar of the Australian Football League who stood up against racist abuse in the sport, THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM is a profoundly moving, universal story of personal and social responsibility and the long, difficult fight for equality, understanding, and justice for all.

Sunday, October 18, 9:30 PM

KINDRED

A psychological thriller rippling with suspense, director Joe Marcantonio’s KINDRED follows vulnerable mother-to-be Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance) as she is taken in by her recently deceased boyfriend’s mother (Fiona Shaw) and her stepson (Jack Lowden), who seem increasingly obsessed with her every move. Plagued by mysterious hallucinations, Charlotte’s suspicions grow about Margaret and Thomas’s intentions for her unborn child, sending her into a downward spiral that forces her to question her own sanity. KINDRED is a classic tale of dread that draws you in through slow-burning storytelling that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 PM

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964)

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of The Film Foundation, dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history, the 2020 Montclair Film Festival is proud to present Roger Corman’s 1964 horror classic THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH! Vincent Price stars as the diabolical Prince Prospero, who isolates himself among his sycophantic enablers and hosts a masquerade ball as a plague roams the countryside, terrorizing his subjects. Corman’s film, widely considered a gothic horror classic, finds new resonance today, a must-see experience restored to its beautiful, big-screen, cinematic glory.

Restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.

Wednesday, October 21, 9:30 PM

THE SOUL OF AMERICA

Katie Davison’s new documentary THE SOUL OF AMERICA, based on Jon Meacham’s 2018 bestselling book of the same name, illuminates our present-day, fraught political reality by exploring historical challenges of the past. Examining the women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese Americans, McCarthyism, and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, the film brings America’s legacy of political exclusion and struggle into sharp focus, calling upon citizens of today to embrace the “better angels” of our shared national ideals in order to create a democracy that works for all of us, together.

Thursday, October 22, 6:30 PM

OUT OF THE BLUE (1980)

After serving time for a devastating drunk driving accident. Don Barnes (director Dennis Hopper) tries to reconnect with his wife Kathy (Sharon Farrell). In his absence, their daughter CeBe (Linda Manz) has grown into a traumatized teen misfit, fascinated both by Elvis and the punk rock movement. Each of these lost souls dreams in their own way of forming a united family again, struggling against the dark past that still tears them apart. One of the most powerful, moving works of Dennis Hopper’s legendary career, and featuring a timeless, heartbreaking performance by the great Linda Manz, the Montclair Film Festival is proud to present the new 4K restoration of OUT OF THE BLUE, which makes its drive-in premiere at the festival.

Thursday, October 22, 9:30 PM

BLITHE SPIRIT

In this light-hearted comedy, best-selling crime novelist Charles (Dan Stevens) suffers from terrible writer’s block and is struggling to finish his first screenplay. His picture-perfect new wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) is doing her best to keep him focused, so they can fulfill her dream of leaving London for Hollywood. Charles’s quest for inspiration leads him to invite the eccentric mystic Madame Acarti (Judi Dench) to perform a séance in his home. He gets more than he bargained for when Madame Acarti inadvertently summons the spirit of his first wife: the brilliant and fiery Elvira (Leslie Mann).

Friday, October 23, 6:30 PM

GUNDA

Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, GUNDA movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own. Shot in luminous black-and-white from the perspective of the animals, without dialogue, narration, or music, the natural world comes alive on its own terms. GUNDA is a unique cinematic experience, a gorgeous meditation on the value of life from master filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky, reminding us of our role as stewards of life on this planet.

Friday, October 23, 9:30 PM

DOCUMENTARY CENTERPIECE
IN & OF ITSELF

In & Of Itself

Derek DelGaudio’s IN & OF ITSELF, directed by Frank Oz, is a performance film unlike any you have seen before, capturing DelGaudio’s intimate, mind-boggling story of identity and illusion. Filmed live and harnessing the collective experience of the audience to create an allegory of the events, ideas, and roles that define who we are, DelGaudio uses his skill as a storyteller to craft a moving story of redemption, one which forces us to explore the boundaries of our own identity.

Saturday, October 24, 6:30 PM

CLOSING NIGHT
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

One Night in Miami

On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gather to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). Based on the award-winning play of the same name, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together. It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion, and personal responsibility still resonate.

Saturday, October 24, 9:30 PM

Virtual Cinema

Here are just some of the virtual offerings — click for the entire list of Montclair Film Festival’s Virtual Cinema offerings.

THE ANTIDOTE

Directed by Academy Award nominee Kahane Cooperman (JOE’S VIOLIN) and six-time Emmy Award winner John Hoffman, THE ANTIDOTE weaves together stories of everyday people who are making the intentional choice to lift others up in powerful ways, taking action in the face of fundamentally unkind realities that are at once unfortunate facts of life in America and deeply antithetical to our founding ideals. Made in response to the times in which we are living, when basic civility is crumbling, THE ANTIDOTE is a film about kindness, decency, and the power of community in America.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND

Filmed in New Jersey and winner of the Documentary Feature Competition at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Katrine Philp’s BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND explores the way in which children process the loss of a parent or sibling. At Good Grief groups, children meet with one another and with counselors to begin to understand the permanence of loss and to find comfort in the experience of others, creating compassionate, moving territory for storytelling. Filled with thoughtful, touching moments of support and a hopeful perspective on the possibilities of moving forward, BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND examines loss with empathy and compassion.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

BEHIND THE STRINGS

When Mao’s Cultural Revolution ended, China’s door cracked open. Four young, classically trained musicians seized the opportunity to flee to the West and form the Shanghai String Quartet. Relocated to the United States to play the music they love, the quartet have performed for 36 years in the U.S. and around the world. Hal Rifkin’s BEHIND THE STRINGS tells the story of the formation, rise, and success of the Shanghai String Quartet, the price they had to pay to stay on top, and their triumphant return to China to play the music that they love.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

BLACK BEAR

Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott appear in Black Bear by Lawrence Michael Levine, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rob Leitzell.

When a young, artistic couple (Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon) invite a filmmaker friend (Aubrey Plaza) to their isolated lake house, they engage in a complicated series of mind games that challenge their relationships and creativity, and call into question the barriers they have constructed between their art and their lives. Lawrence Michael Levine’s BLACK BEAR is at once a thriller, a comedy, and a meta-commentary on filmmaking and desire. Levine’s film is a swirling showcase for his actors, who fully inhabit their characters in surprising ways, constantly shifting the ground beneath the viewer’s feet, with dizzying, delicious results.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL

When Chinese-American police officer Peter Liang kills innocent, unarmed Akai Gurley in a darkened stairwell of a New York City housing project, it sets off a firestorm of emotion and calls for accountability. But when Liang goes on trial, the fight for justice becomes complicated, igniting one of the largest Asian-American protests in history, and bringing two communities into conflict with one another, disrupting a legacy of solidarity, and putting an uneven legal system into sharp focus. DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL is a careful examination of the lines that can divide us and the ties that bind.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

FREELAND

In Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s FREELAND, Devi (Krisha Fairchild, in a stunning performance) has been breeding legendary pot strains for decades, farming by day and getting stoned by night, fully expecting to live out her days on the remote homestead she built herself. But when cannabis is legalized, the fragile balance of her whole idyllic life is thrown into disarray by changing attitudes and social norms surrounding pot. Forced to confront the rapidly changing realities of the weed industry, she fights to go legal in an increasingly hostile landscape that is threatening her whole livelihood.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

HUNGRY TO LEARN

Meet the faces behind an American crisis—college students so strapped to pay tuition that they don’t have enough money to eat. It’s not about Ramen Noodles and care packages from home; it’s a life of suffering from having no food at all, eating at food pantries or off the trays of fellow students. Shot in part on the campus of Montclair State University, HUNGRY TO LEARN tells the story of four college students facing hunger and homelessness and how their dreams of success, college degrees, and food security at school remain just beyond their reach.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

I AM GRETA

In August 2018, at the age of 15, Greta Thunberg began a “school strike for climate,” sitting in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm to draw attention to her concern about the government’s inaction on the urgent issue of climate change. In the process of speaking up, her actions launched a global revolution in youth activism around the climate that continues to this day. I AM GRETA follows her story from its origins, creating a powerful portrait of a committed thinker and advocate whose decision to speak up in the face of indifference continues to shape our world.

Available Friday, October 23 at 7:00 PM to Sunday, October 25 at 7:00 PM

VIRTUAL CENTERPIECE
MINARI

Minari

A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, MINARI follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, MINARI shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Available Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM

MY REMBRANDT

Rembrandt van Rijn is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters in history, a grandmaster of intimacy and light whose works have been studied and celebrated for centuries. But when a new discovery of possible newly attributed paintings rocks the art world, the elite system of collecting art is turned upside down—aristocrats covet, experts rule, art dealers investigate, collectors hunt, and museums battle. 350 years after Rembrandt’s death, he remains a mystery, his paintings a source of obsession and desire. MY REMBRANDT dives deep into the art world of Old Masters, exploring this elite world of intrigue.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL

From Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbott, directors of the hit documentary THE CORPORATION, comes THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL, revealing
how the corporate takeover of society is being justified by the sly rebranding of corporations
as socially conscious entities. From gatherings of corporate elites in Davos to climate change and spiraling inequality, the rise of ultra-right leaders to COVID-19 and racial injustice, the film looks at corporations’ devastating power. THE NEW CORPORATION is a cry for social justice and transformative solutions.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

REUNION

When a pregnant woman returns to her recently-deceased grandparents’ old family home to spend time with her estranged mother, what begins as a tenuous reunion slowly becomes something more sinister, calling into question the fabric of family, legacy, and memory. Shot in New Zealand and starring the great Julia Ormond (HOWARD’S END), Jake Mahaffy’s (FREED IN DEED) new film REUNION is a psychological thriller that preys upon perception, sending his characters down the rabbit hole of family secrets and into a chilling examination of maternity, anxiety, and the ways in which our history frames our experience.

Available Saturday, October 17 at 8:00 PM and Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 PM

A THOUSAND CUTS

Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Facing down an oppressive government actively seeking to discredit her work, journalist Maria Ressa (one of Time Magazine’s 2018 Persons of The Year) places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy.
Directed by Ramona S. Diaz (MOTHERLAND), A THOUSAND CUTS is a searing examination of the immeasurable value of journalism willing to challenge the powerful in the name of the truth.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

TWO GODS

Filmed in luminous black-and-white in Newark, NJ, director Zeshawn Ali’s documentary TWO GODS tells the story of Hanif, a Black Muslim casket maker who spends his days ritually cleaning and preparing the bodies of his brothers in faith for burial. Active within the community, Hanif takes an interest in two young men; Furquan, a fun-loving 12-year-old grappling with responsibility, and Naz, a 17-year-old quickly learning the hard lessons of the streets. But will Hanif’s own struggles with his past prevent him from providing help to those he seeks to support and change?

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

TWO OF US

Nina and Madeleine are two retired women living across the hall from each other. To the outside world, including Madeleine’s family, they are merely neighbors, but in reality the two have been carrying on a secret love affair for decades. When an unexpected incident intercedes in their previously blissful happiness, their carefully crafted story begins to unravel. Beautifully acted by Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier, Filippo Meneghetti’s remarkable feature film debut is an electrifying, gripping chamber-piece.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

UNAPOLOGETIC

After two Black Chicagoans are killed, millennial organizers challenge an administration complicit in state violence against its residents. Told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders, UNAPOLOGETIC is a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Filmed on the front lines in the battle for social justice, police accountability, and social change, director Ashley O’Shea’s UNAPOLOGETIC is a throwback to the documentary films of an earlier era, honoring the experience and perspectives of those lifting their voices in struggle.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

WANDER DARKLY

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna appear in Wander Darkly by Tara Miele. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Carolina Costa.

In WANDER DARKLY, a traumatic accident leaves a couple, Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna), in a surreal state of being that takes them on a disorienting journey through the duality of their shared moments. By reliving fond recollections from the beginning of their romance while also navigating the overwhelming truths of their present, they must rediscover the love that truly binds their souls together. Filmmaker Tara Miele offers a profound new perspective on the delicate nature of relationships with this emotionally moving story about a couple who must reflect on their past in order to face their uncertain future.

Available Friday, October 23 at 7:30 PM to Sunday, October 25 at 7:30 PM

WHITE LIE

Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) is a university student raised in the age of the internet, where
online identity allows us to be whoever we wish to be, social media drives perception, and personal needs are fulfilled through crowdsourced fundraising campaigns. Seeing an opportunity to exploit the loopholes in this landscape, Katie begins a campaign to raise money for herself, one that soon spirals beyond her control as lie builds upon lie. Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas’s WHITE LIE is a brilliant drama of deception, of escalating consequences, and exploitation, a chilling reminder that things are not always as they seem.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

YOU ASKED FOR THE FACTS

This historical documentary film tells the story of Robert F. Kennedy’s historic visit to the
University of Mississippi in 1966 and the behind-the-scenes student activism that made it possible. Only four years after the violence surrounding James Meredith’s admittance to the university as its first African American student—and amid a controversial “Speaker Ban” imposed by the legislature and the Institutions of Higher Learning board on Mississippi’s college campuses—a small, interracial group of forward-thinking students at “Ole Miss” devised a plan to get around the Speaker Ban and host a speech by RFK.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25

ZAPPA

With a career that spans over 110 albums, multi-faceted composer and musician Frank Zappa remains one of the most prolific artists in the history of recorded music. Director Alex Winter’s new film ZAPPA is a portrait of this beloved, often controversial artist, presented through never before seen interviews, performances, and private movies made available for the first time from the artist’s personal vault. The result is a film that remains true to Zappa’s spirit; compelling, often hilarious, and honest, yet never afraid to question orthodoxy. ZAPPA is a must-see for fans of this unique rock-and-roll icon.

Available Saturday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25 Presented in partnership with New Jersey Beer Company

SPECIAL PROGRAM

THE SACRIFICE ZONE

The Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country. Maria Lopez, a Honduran-American resident there, is waging a war for environmental justice. Directed by MFF alumna Julie Winokur, THE SACRIFICE ZONE explores the contemporary impact and legacy of environmental racism in our communities, following Maria as she leads a group of warriors who are fighting to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds for all of our waste.

Following the film, join Julie and a panel of national and local activists and leaders as they discuss the issues raised in the film, from recent actions taken to address the disproportionate impact of industrial pollution on communities of color, to local and national legislative initiatives that look to bring about systemic changes seeking to transform the legacy of industrial waste in our cities.

Montclair Film is proud to partner with NJTV for a special screening of THE SACRIFICE ZONE at 8:00 PM on Thursday, October 15, followed immediately by the panel discussion at 8:30 PM, airing on NJTV stations across the tristate area.

Beginning Saturday, October 17, THE SACRIFICE ZONE film and panel will then be available on MFF’s Virtual Cinema as part of the Main Slate of the 2020 Montclair Film Festival.

Viewers may acquire a ticket for the virtual presentation by visiting montclairfilm.org

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