Food, Crafts and Live Music at the Glenridge Avenue Arts & Music Festival Saturday, May 13

BY  |  Tuesday, May 09, 2017 3:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Glenridge Avenue Arts & Music Festival (GLAM) will take place on Saturday, May 13 from 11 am to 6 pm. Featuring over 40 vendors, visitors can enjoy artisan foods, handmade goods and vintage clothing and listen to music from bluegrass to reggae to rock and roll. The rain-or-shine event will take place along Glenridge Avenue from Bloomfield Avenue to Forest Street in Montclair. Continue Reading

#MFF17 Patti Cake$ is Ultimate Jersey Film; Band Aid Offers Comedy with Some Sweet Surprises

BY  |  Monday, May 08, 2017 4:15pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Patti Cake$ (2017)
Director: Geremy Jasper

Patti (Danielle MacDonald in a breakout performance) is an overweight, 23-year-old New Jersey girl who lives at home with her mother and ailing grandmother. Day and night she fantasizes about becoming a famous rap singer. It’s the only thing that seems to make her happy. Her neighborhood is lower income and bluer than blue collar. Patti’s mother is a hard drinking, bitter figure, who once had dreams of a singing career herself. She has little patience in supporting Patti’s own dreams because her prejudiced view of rap music is that it’s only fit for criminals and thugs. Patti spends time with her friend Jheri, an energetic Indian pharmacist, who backs Patti with his beats, comedy relief and pep talks. At a VFW local band night, they stumble upon outsider, and musical whiz, Bob (Mamoudou Athie in a quietly dynamic performance) an African American who dresses in black and has dreadlocks and facial piercings. Together these three pool their knowledge and talents long enough to record a demo CD called PBNJ. Patti even brings her wheelchair-bound grandmother, a scene stealing Cathy Moriarty, to help out on vocals. The group sells their demo and hits up every open mic they can find. It all builds up to a rap contest that’s hard not to be moved by. Continue Reading

Montclair Film Festival Announces Winners of 2017 Film Competitions

BY  |  Monday, May 08, 2017 3:51pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Montclair Film Festival (MFF) announced the winners of the 2017 film competitions at a ceremony held on Saturday evening at the MFF’s new home, The Investors Bank Film & Media Center. This year’s festival featured four competitive categories with five films in each: Fiction, Documentary, Future/ Now, and New Jersey Filmmaking. The 2017 festival featured over 150 feature and short films screened over ten days.

LADY MACBETH, directed by William Oldroyd, was awarded the festival’s Fiction Feature Prize with the actor Florence Pugh receiving a Special Jury Prize for her performance in LADY MACBETH.

STRONG ISLAND, directed by Yance Ford, took home the Bruce Sinofsky Award in the festival’s Documentary Feature competition. This award was established in memory of Bruce Sinofsky and was presented by Mr. Sinofsky’s daughter, Claire Sinofsky. A Special Jury Prize for Direction was awarded to Matthew Heineman for CITY OF GHOSTS.

BEACH RATS, directed by Eliza Hitman, was awarded with the Future/Now prize, honoring emerging low-budget American independent filmmaking, and SWIM TEAM, directed by Lara Stolman, took home the New Jersey Films Award, which honors a select group of films made by New Jersey artists, and an American Truth Seeker Award given by the jury to Reuben Atlas and Samuel D. Pollard for the film ACORN & THE FIRESTORM. Continue Reading

#MFF17: Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

BY  |  Monday, May 08, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities — a documentary that chronicles the history of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) — was well-received when it showed at the Montclair Film Festival on Friday night.

In our current climate — one in which the Secretary of Education wrongly called HBCUs “pioneers of school choice” and the President is questioning the Constitutionality of federal funding for Black colleges — it seems this film comes at a crucial time.

The strength of Stanley Nelson’s film, lies in the origin story. Using historic documents and photos, the film gives a comprehensive lesson of the struggle of Black people in a Post-Civil War America to get an education and the path that would lead to higher education for a people who were once denied the right to read.

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#MFF17 A Look at “Gook”

BY  |  Saturday, May 06, 2017 11:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Gook takes place over a single day and night, as riots erupted on the streets of L.A. after the Rodney King verdict was read in 1992. This small, personal, story focuses on two Korean American brothers, Eli (director Justin Chon) and Daniel, who own a rundown shoe store just outside Compton. The brothers argue, fight and ring up sneaker sales as they attempt to keep their failing business afloat. A preteen African American girl, Kamilla, is friendly with the brothers and cuts school to help out at the store. She feels like a member of a family with the squabbling siblings. More so than she does at home with her sister and street-hardened brother. As the King case unfolds on every TV and radio, tensions rise for the film’s characters as well. Clashes ensue with Latino gang members, a neighboring Korean liquor store owner, and, worst of all, Kamilla’s brother Keith. Late in the film it’s revealed that Keith’s mother and Eli’s father were dating and killed during a robbery while working at the shoe store. Although unjustified, Keith still feels hatred towards the brothers for the loss of his mother. When he learns that little sister Kamilla has developed a brotherly bond with Eli his anger gets the best of him. Simone Baker’s performance as young Kamilla is the film’s best turn.

The film’s touchstones seem to be Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and the French La Haine (Hate). Gook was shot in black and white (like La Haine) and while some scenes have a nice look, many others are shaky in composition. The soundtrack has the expected rap but also some R&B and slower songs. A nice, slightly surreal, scene has the two brothers and Kamilla dancing in sync to Hall & Oates’ Maneater. It’s a rare purely light moment in this dramedy that has a lot of heart, anger and energy.

MHS Seniors Bring One Singular Sensation to Montclair High SVPA’s “A Chorus Line”

BY  |  Friday, May 05, 2017 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

When you see the School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) production of “A Chorus Line,” (with performances this weekend and next) you will be seeing a group of seniors in their last musical at Montclair High School. But you may not be seeing the last of these students on stage, since many of this year’s talented group of graduates are planning to pursue performing arts degrees in acting, musical theatre, dance and music, in numbers unprecedented.

A Chorus Line. Photo: Remi Riordan (click to enlarge)

In fact, the choice of “A Chorus Line” is a fitting way for SVPA director Brenda Pepper to acknowledge an amazingly talented class of 2017. The show focuses on a group of performers, an ensemble, rather than one or two leads, allowing audiences to discover each character’s complex backstory, personalities and what drives them to perform.

Amanda Harris (center) and cast of A Chorus Line. Photo: Remi Riordan (click to enlarge)

Thrilling Combination

This year, a seasoned group of six senior actors — Maiya Blaney (playing Cassie), Sofia Happonen (Val), Amanda Harris (Diana Morales), Lilli Herrick (Judi), Brittany Hurlock (Tricia), and Sydney Miede (Sheila) will all go from playing their parts in “A Chorus Line” to pursuing performing arts degrees at schools including Pace, Muhlenberg, Boston University, Ithaca College and University of Michigan. Steven Davis (Greg) will study animation at the School of Visual Arts.

Other seniors on tech and in the band will continue their pursuit of music and theatre while studying other subjects. Lead stage manager, Julianna Wittmann, will be attending the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, while Kaitlin Griffin, one of the heads of tech, is off to Emerson this fall to study film.

SVPA Pit Band Seniors: (l. to r.) Jadyn Trayvick (flute); Caroline Creaser (clarinet); Maya Stepansky (drums); Jeremy Stepansky (keyboard); Zack Marzulli (bass); Nathan Farrell (flute, clarinet, saxophone); Sam Schuman (guitar); Sebastian Posada (baritone saxophone)

Especially exceptional about this year’s group of graduating seniors is the musical talent and accomplishments of those playing in the SVPA pit band. Jadyn Trayvick (flute) will attend Yale University; Caroline Creaser (clarinet) is going to Cornell University. Nathan Farrell (flute, clarinet, saxophone), who has been selected twice for the Grammy Camp Jazz Session, will attend Columbia University, where he will participate in their Jazz Performance program. A talented singer, Nathan also hopes to produce music as an R&B solo artist. Maya Stepansky (drums), who also attended this year’s Grammy Camp Jazz session, will be taking a year off from starting at Princeton to study jazz at the Brubeck Institute as a Brubeck Fellow, where she will serve as the drummer for the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. After that, she plans to get a certificate in jazz studies/performance and possibly major in music at Princeton. Her brother Jeremy Stepansky (keyboards) is pursuing a dual degree at Harvard and Berklee School of Music.

Sebastian Posada (baritone saxophone) will attend Ithaca College and plans to minor in music performance. Sam Schuman will be at Oberlin College, where he plans to play in the orchestra and take conservatory classes. And Zack Marzulli (bass) will pursue a bachelors of music, majoring in classical double bass at The Juilliard School.

Maiya Blaney (playing Cassie) Photo: Remi Riordan (click to enlarge)

All these seniors and the talented underclassmen who join them both on stage and behind the scenes are the thrilling combination that is this year’s musical, “A Chorus Line.” Don’t miss it!


May 5, 6, 12, 13 @ 7:30pm, May 14 @ 3pm
The Little Theater, 141 Park Street, Montclair
Tickets at or one hour before showtime at the box office. (This show contains some adult language)

#MFF17 – “A Life in Waves” Hits All The Right Notes

BY  |  Thursday, May 04, 2017 4:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

“That’s what women did back then. They had to be better.”
– Suzanne Ciani

“A Life in Waves,” a music documentary, tells the story of Suzanne Ciani. A name you may not be familiar with. But chances are you know her work very well. She began playing playing piano at a young age, but during her college years a new instrument called to her. She fell in love with synthesizer (or synth) and electronic music the instant she heard it. Although keyboards had been invented years earlier the machine that she played, called a Buchla, looked like a huge telephone switchboard from the 1940’s. It has various colored cables connecting one module to another, flashing lights, and an endless sea of knobs and dials to control it all. Its limitless options separated it from traditional keyboards. Ciani’s natural ability to twist and distort sounds wasn’t terribly commercial until she did something no one else had done. She gave the sounds musicality. It was a serendipitous moment where Ciani’s talents converged with breaking technology. She set out to give the world something they didn’t know they wanted. In the 1980’s, the advertising business was male dominated and Suzanne was often brushed aside. Despite her sweet personality and nerdy attitude she was able to forge ahead because she never doubted her own talent. “That’s what women did back then. They had to be better.” she explains. Early in her career she was asked to help out on a TV commercial for Coke. The ad played nationwide and was a huge hit. Suddenly the list of companies vying for her new, space age, electronic sound was endless. If you’re over the age of 30 there’s no doubt you’ve heard her work. From there it was onto more personal albums, concerts, Grammy awards and even sounds for a pinball machine (Xenon, anyone?). Closing scenes show Ciani welcomed by synth fans eager to meet and learn from a pioneer of modern electronica music. Continue Reading

Weekend Arts & Entertainment Calendar: May 4 – 7

BY  |  Thursday, May 04, 2017 11:22am  |  COMMENTS (0)


Lots of great local events to enjoy this weekend! From live music and concerts, to comedy and theater, to films and social events, this is your guide to what’s happening this weekend:

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#MFF17 Diary: Opening Night’s Triumphant ‘Step,’ Then ‘The Dinner,’ ‘Casting JonBenet’

BY  |  Tuesday, May 02, 2017 2:43pm  |  COMMENTS (0)


Montclair Film Festival truly started off with a bang — when a group of powerful young women, the “Xinos Step Team” from Hillside High School, NJ, took the stage by storm and represented the art of stepping to an appreciative crowd at the Wellmont Theater. Their opening number blew away the crowd, a packed house gathered to see the Festival’s opening night film “Step,” which documents the inspiring lives of another group of girls on a step dance team, in their senior year at an all girls’ high-school in inner-city Baltimore, all trying to become the first in their families to attend college.

Girls step team from Hillside, NJ open #mff17 @montclairfilm

A post shared by Baristanet (@baristanet) on

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Montclair Art Museum Has a Fantastic Free First Thursday Planned!

BY  |  Tuesday, May 02, 2017 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Enjoy a night out at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) with free general admission, live music, art activities and tours, dynamic seasonal programming, and a full-service bar at Free First Thursday Night, May 4, 5–9 p.m.

The May event spotlights Matisse and American Art, the Montclair Art Museum’s highly acclaimed special exhibition on the relationship between French master Henri Matisse and American artists. A special exhibition fee of $6 applies for this exhibition; members and children see it free! The first 50 people at the May and June Free First Thursday Nights will receive complimentary special exhibition admission courtesy of TD Bank. Arrive early to beat the crowd—to ensure the best viewing experience, capacity is limited within the exhibition space.

Free First Thursday Night features several ways to take a deeper dive into the exhibition, including roaming docents available to provide more information on the art on view, and a 6:30 p.m. tour of the complementary exhibition Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series.

Free First Thursday Night also celebrates all the arts, from books and poetry and music. Don’t miss MAM’s May special features:

* Every Story Matters, Poetry Slam at 6 p.m. Showcasing slam poets from Buzz Aldrin, Renaissance and Glenfield Middle Schools and featuring guest poets Rich Villar and Lauren Marie Schmidt.

* Empowered Design book signing with Blanche Garcia, interior designer and entrepreneur
* Art Talk with watercolorist and Yard School of Art instructor Sharon Pitts at 7 p.m.
* Montclair State University MFA Student K. Anthony Lawler will present an interactive installation, From Silence. Visitors will get a glimpse inside their own brains by working with an EEG machine to convert brainwaves into a soundscape.
* Live contemporary jazz music in the galleries provided by guitarist, composer, and teacher Nat Janoff
* Yard School of Art Draw Along Workshop, a free session with a clothed model and guided art instruction with Julian Tejera
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Featured Comment

Another "ground-level basement" (to get around the building height rules)?!

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