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This Weekend: ‘African American Stories’ At 2nd Annual Montclair Film Fest + House Party

This Weekend: 'African American Stories' At 2nd Annual Montclair Film Fest + House Party

A strong, good-looking lineup of films here, including a few that you would be familiar with, given that we’ve profiled them in the last 12 months: in the documentary section, the Opening Night film, Twenty Feet from Stardom, as well as Sing Your SongFree Angela and All Political PrisonersGod Loves UgandaIceberg Slim: Portrait of a PimpThe Trials of Muhammad Ali, and Gideon’s Army; And in the fiction section, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, and Violet and Daisy.

The 2013 edition of the Montclair Film Festival (MFF), now only in its 2nd year, runs through May 5 – this Sunday – so if you’re in the area, you’ve got some weekend options. 

I’m also proud to say that, TONIGHT, Friday May 3Shadow And Act is a co-presenter (along with The BlackHouse Foundation) of the festival’s “African American Stories” section, which highlights black cinema (the films and the filmmakers), with special guest directors like Shola Lynch (Free Angela and All Political Prisoners), George Tillman Jr. (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete), Marta Cunningham (Valentine Road), and Oscar-winner Geoffrey Fletcher (Violet & Daisy), in attendance for a May 3 celebration.

In addition to film screenings, expect conversations with artists (like Ice-T, who’ll be visiting MFF as the producer of Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp), topical panels (like one on “Race & Film,” featuring Pulitzer Prize-winner Wesley Morris), and more. 

We set out to curate a festival that is unique to this community,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers, adding, Montclair and Northern New Jersey are home to many media professionals from the fields of news, music, comedy and family entertainment. We’re fortunate to tap accomplished locals to participate and have them as an influential audience.”

Tickets are $12.50 for films and conversations, $10.50 for MFF Members, and go on sale today, Thursday, April 4 for Montclair Film Festival, members, and Sunday, April 7 for the general public at Note that there are special ticket prices fortThe Opening Night Gala film and reception, as well as the Friday Night House Party and Saturday Night Filmmaker Party. Panels are free

During the festival, tickets are also available at the Festival’s Downtown and Uptown Headquarters, and at the box office of each venue. See the website for specific locations.

Venues include the Clairidge Cinema, Bellevue Theater, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School and Montclair State Univerity Alexander Kasser Theater.

The festival’s full lineup of events (screenings, panels, conversations, more), separated into individual categories, follows below:


American Masters Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (2013, Robert Trachtenberg) Comedy giant Mel Brooks, normally private, opens up for this lively profile. In Person: Robert Trachtenberg & Susan Lacy (April 30, 7:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Computer Chess (2013, Andrew Bujalski) In this deadpan comedy set in the 1980s, computer software programmers gather for a weekend chess tournament to assess man versus machine. (May 2, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013, Chiemi Karasawa) At age 87, Elaine Stritch, known for her 30 Rock role and one-woman shows, connects her past to the present in this candid and comic portrait. In Person: Chiemi Karasawa  (May 5, 4:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

The Kings of Summer (2013, Jordan Vogt-Roberts) Three boys escape their parents and build a house in the woods in this funny and poignant coming of age tale. In Person: Writer Chris Galletta (May 3, 7:00 pm, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

The What-Is-It Three writers and producers from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart perform live, riffing off esoteric film clips. In Person: Rory Albanese, Adam Lowitt, Elliott Kalan  (May 4, 9:45 pm Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Twenty Million People (2013, Michael Ferrell) Shot in New Jersey, this plucky romantic comedy takes aim at the concept of living “happily ever after.” In Person: Michael Ferrell and producers/actors Chris Prine & Devin Sanchez  (May 4, 9:15 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Culinary Cinema

Haute Cuisine (2012, Christian Vincent) In this comic French drama, a provincial chef is summoned to cook for the President.  (May 5, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Hey Bartender (2013, Douglas Tirola) Featuring the world’s most renowned bartenders and providing access to the most exclusive bars in New York City, this is the story of the comeback of the cocktail. In Person: Douglas Tirola, producer Susan Bedusa and subjects Steve Schneider & Stephen “Carpi” Carpentieri  (May 3, 7:15 pm, Bellevue Theater)

More Than Honey (2012, Markus Imhoof) With dazzling nature photography, Oscar-nominated director Markus Imhoof looks at endangered honeybees. (May 5, 9:00 pm,  Bellevue Theater)

Sourlands (2012, Jared Flesher) Giving insight to the local food movement, Sourlands looks at the struggles of New Jersey farmers. In Person: Jared Flesher (May 4, 4:40 pm,  Bellevue Theater)


A Girl and a Gun (2012, Cathryne Czubek) A weapon associated with masculinity is seen from a feminist perspective. In Person: Cathryne Czubek (May 4, 3:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

After Tiller (2013, Martha Shane & Lana Wilson) A profile of the only four doctors who still perform third trimester abortions in the U.S. In Person: Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproduction Rights (May 4, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution (2012, Alex Meillier) A young Australian activist adopts the alias Ruby Blade while working for the underground Timorese resistance in Indonesia. In Person: cinematographer Shane Sigler (May 4, 1:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Blackfish (2012, Gabriela Cowperthwaite) An investigation into why an Orca whale at SeaWorld killed a trainer. In Person: Gabriela Cowperthwaite (May 4, 12:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Dirty Wars (2013, Richard Rowley) Bestselling author and reporter Jeremy Scahill travels to remote areas to uncover the shadowy world of drone attacks. In Person: Richard Rowley (May 4, 9:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

First Comes Love (2012, Nina Davenport, HBO Documentary Films) Candid and funny, filmmaker Nina Davenport documents her efforts to get pregnant as a single woman over 40. In Person: Nina Davenport (May 3, 12:00 pm, Bellevue Theater. May 4, 4:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

First Cousin Once Removed (2013, Alan Berliner, HBO Documentary Films) Acclaimed filmmaker Alan Berliner profiles his cousin, the poet Edwin Honig as he grapples with Alzheimer’s. In Person: Alan Berliner  (May 2, 7:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners (2012, Shola Lynch) Angela Davis reflects on the tumultuous period in the 1970s when she was hunted by the FBI. In Person: Shola Lynch (May 3, 4:30 pm, Bellevue Theater)

God Loves Uganda (2012, Roger Ross Williams) American missionaries in Uganda wage a crusade against homosexuals that turns deadly.  (May 5, 5:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp (2012, Jorge Hinojosa) Producer Ice-T and director Jorge Hinojosa uncover the real life of the legendary author of Pimp. In Person: Jorge Hinojosa & Ice-T (May 4, 7:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Rafea: Solar Mama (2012, Mona Eldaief &Jehane Noujaim) Winner of the DOC NYC audience award, Rafea: Solar Mama follows an illiterate woman attempting to become a solar engineer. In Person: Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim (May 5, 12:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley) Director Sarah Polley (Away From Her) makes her first documentary about her own family’s secret. (May 3, 9:30 pm, Bellevue Theater)

The Act of Killing (2012, Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn) Indonesian death squad leaders reenact their crimes in the style of American movies. (May 5, 6:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

The Crash Reel (2013, Lucy Walker, HBO Documentary Films) This cautionary tale about extreme sports focuses on snowboarder Kevin Pearce who was an Olympic hopeful before a devastating crash. In Person: Lucy Walker (May 5, 2:45 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013, Bill Siegel) Oscar-nominated director Bill Siegel documents Muhammad Ali’s fights outside the ring, over religion, politics and Parkinson’s. In Person: Bill Siegel (May 5, 8:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Valentine Road (2013, Marta Cunningham, HBO Documentary Films) A timely look at a school shooting motivated by homophobia. In Person: Marta Cunningham (May 4, 5:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride (2012, Amy Nicholson) Coney Island’s Zipper ride becomes embroiled in a battle over real estate. In Person: Amy Nicholson (May 4, 12:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)


Dead Man’s Burden (2012, Jared Moshe) This classic western is infused with the young talent of Clare Bowen (ABC’s Nashville) and David Call (Tiny Furniture). In Person: Jared Moshe (May 1, 9:30 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Frances Ha (2012, Noah Baumbach) Director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) casts Greta Gerwig in a comic exploration of a Brooklyn twentysomething. (May 3, 9:30 pm, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Hannah Arendt (2012, Margarethe von Trotta) Ideas come to life on the screen in this fictional portrait of the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt. In Person: Roger Berkowitz, Hannah Arendt Center & Gary Rosen, editor Wall Street Journal Weekend Review (May 5, 12:00 pm, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Love Is All You Need (2013, Susanne Bier) Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier casts Pierce Brosnan is this grownup romantic comedy. (May 2, 9:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Midnight’s Children (2012, Deepa Mehta) Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta adapts Salman Rushdie’s epic novel set in India. (May 5, 11:45 am, Bellevue Theater)

Still Mine (2012, Michael McGowan) When an elderly man (James Cromwell) wants to build a house for his ailing wife (Genevieve Bujold), he runs into bureaucratic trouble.  (May 4, 6:45 pm, Bellevue Theater)

The Artist and the Model (2012, Fernando Trueba) Director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque) tells the story of an older artist inspired by a young model. (May 5, 4:45 pm,  Bellevue Theater)

The Attack (2012, Ziad Doueiri) An Israeli-Palestinian surgeon, living in Tel Aviv, seeks to discover why his wife undertook a suicide bombing. (May 2, 9:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete (2013, George Tillman Jr.) Two boys try to survive without parents in Brooklyn’s housing projects in this film with a powerhouse cast including Jennifer Hudson. In Person: George Tillman Jr. (May 3, 7:00 pm,  Clairidge Cinema)

The Patience Stone (2013, Atiq Rahimi) A woman in an unnamed war-torn Middle East country exacts revenge on her abusive husband. (May 3, 9:45 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

The Spectacular Now (2013, James Ponsoldt) A high school senior and budding alcoholic falls in love with a “good girl” for an unlikely romance that won a prize for acting at the Sundance Film Festival. (May 5, 5:30 pm, Montclair Kimberly Academy)

Valley of Saints (2012, Musa Syeed) A Kashmiri boatman falls in love with a visiting environmentalist in this romance that won the Sundance audience award. In Person: Musa Syeed & producer Nicholas Bruckman  (May 1, 7:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Violet and Daisy (2012, Geoffrey S. Fletcher) Oscar-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) directs this whimsical story of two teen assassins and their mysterious target played by James Gandolfini. In Person: Geoffrey S. Fletcher  (May 3, 9:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Wasteland (2012, Rowan Athale) This British heist thriller has touches of Ocean’s Eleven and The Usual Suspects. (April 30, 9:30 pm, Bellevue Theater)

You Will Be My Son (2012, Gilles Legrande) Set in the world of French winemaking, a domineering vineyard owner resists the possibility that his loyal son may one day succeed him. In Person: Amy Nicholson (May 4, 2:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)


Cinderella (1950, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, & Wilfred Jackson) This rare chance to see the 1950 animated classic on the big screen is made possible by a special arrangement with Disney. (May 4, 2:45 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Girl Rising (2013, Richard Robbins) Girls from nine countries in the developing world act out stories from their lives. In Person: Executive producer Tom Yellin & producer Holly Gordon (May 4, 12:15 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Kidz Shortz (2013) Young filmmakers from grades 4-12 screen the winning entries from MFF’s Kidz Shortz contest. In Person: Several filmmakers (May 5, 12:45 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Magic Camp (2012, Judd Ehrlich) Magic-obsessed kids gather at Tannen’s Magic Camp, following in the footsteps of David Blaine and David Copperfield. In Person: Judd Ehrlich & magician Daniel GreenWolf  (May 4, 11:30 am, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Free Panel

Free Panel: Docs-In-Progress: Acclaimed NJ filmmakers Dawn Porter (Spies in Mississippi); Julie Winokur (Bring It to the Table); Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno & Jerome Bongiorno (The Rule) share clips; along with Nancy Abraham of HBO Documentary Films (May 4, 4:00 pm, Montclair Public Library)

Free Panel: Michael Slovis on Cinematography Cinematographer Michael Slovis (Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) discusses his approach to the art of image making. (May 4, 2:00 pm, Montclair Public Library)

Free Panel: Race & Film Three esteemed film critics from Grantland, New York magazine & Variety discuss how they approach race when writing about film. (May 4,  12:00 pm, Montclair Public Library)  

In Conversation

In Conversation: Ice-T Ice-T, visiting MFF as the producer of Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, talks in a free-ranging conversation about his career spanning music, film and publishing.  (May 5, 12:00 pm, Montclair Art Museum)

In Conversation: David Carr & Alex Gibney on Getting the Story. The New York Times reporter and acclaimed documentarian (Taxi to the Dark Side; We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks) discuss “Getting the Story.” (May 5, 2:00 pm, Montclair Art Museum)

In Conversation: Michael Moore & Dangerous Docs Oscar-winning director Michael Moore interviews a distinguished group of MFF doc makers: Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel), Bill Siegel (The Trials of Muhammad Ali) and Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army). (May 5, 5:00 pm, Montclair Art Museum)

Movie Love

Casting By (2012, Tom Donahue, HBO Documentary Films) Focusing on the career of casting director Marion Dougherty, this documentary will change the way you look at films. In Person: Tom Donahue, producers Ilan Arboleda & Kate Lacey, editor Jill Schweitzer (May 5, 11:30 am, Bellevue Theater)

Love, Marilyn (2012, Liz Garbus, HBO Documentary Films) Drawing on Marilyn Monroe’s never-before- seen personal papers, Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus brings new insight to this icon. In Person: Liz Garbus (May 1, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Christian McBride Presents “Bullitt” (1968, Peter Yates) Revered jazz player Christian McBride presents Bullitt, a film with a classic jazz score. In Person: Christian McBride  (May 5, 5:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

The Thief of Bagdad (1924, Raoul Walsh) This restored 1924 silent film features lavish sets, special effects and a swashbuckling performance by Douglas Fairbanks. (May 5,  1:45 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Music On Film

Johnny Cash’s America (2008, Morgan Neville & Robert Gordon) Interviews with Johnny Cash’s family, friends and admirers such as Bob Dylan, Al Gore and Snoop Dog deepen our appreciation of his music and life. In Person: Morgan Neville (April 30, 9:15 pm, (Clairidge Cinema)

Muscle Shoals (2012, Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier) A history of the recording studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama told by the people who made it famous. (May 4, 4:15 pm,  Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story (2007, Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon) The ups and downs of the great soul music label Stax are explored in this insightful documentary. (May 1, 9:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Troubadours (2011, Morgan Neville) Carole King, James Taylor and others reflect on how the Los Angeles club The Troubadour gave rise to the singer-songwriter. (May 5,  8:45 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

NJ Shorts

NJ Shorts: Fighters Three shorts explore the importance of not giving up. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking teams (May 4, 7:30 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

NJ Shorts: Musical Journeys Three shorts take us on musical journeys. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking teams (May 3, 7:30 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

NJ Shorts: New Visions from MSU Student filmmakers studying at Montclair State University showcase their work. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking team (May 3, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater)

NJ Shorts: Passions Four documentaries delve into various passionate pursuits. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking teams (May 4, 9:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

NJ Shorts: The Unexpected Six fictional shorts deliver twists and surprises. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking teams (May 3, 9:15 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

NJ Shorts: We Are New Jersey Two documentary shorts look at people in New Jersey living with disabilities. In Person: Several members of the filmmaking teams (May 5, 2:00 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

New Jersey Spotlight

Best Kept Secret (2013, Samantha Buck) Montclair’s Janet Mino teaches autistic high school students in Newark and helps them figure out what comes next. In Person: Samantha Buck, producer Danielle DiGiacomo, director of photography Nara Garber & film subject Janet Mino (May 4, 1:45 pm, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Brothers Hypnotic (2013, Reuben Atlas) Director Reuben Atlas, who grew up in Montclair, follows the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, composed of eight blood brothers. In Person: Reuben Atlas (May 4, 9:30 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Every Day Is a Holiday (2013, Theresa Loong) Director Theresa Loong probes the secret past of her father who survived as a prisoner of war before moving to New Jersey. In Person: Theresa Loong, film subject Paul Loong, executive producer Bill Einreinhofer & editor Kristen Nutile (May 4, 11:15 am, Clairidge Cinema)

Fall To Grace (2013, Alexandra Pelosi, HBO Documentary Films) New Jersey’s ex-Governor Jim McGreevey starts a new chapter in life as a minister in this film followed by a live conversation. In Person: Alexandra Pelosi & film subject Jim McGreevey (May 4, 2:30 pm, Clairidge Cinema)

Gideon’s Army (2013, Dawn Porter, HBO Documentary Films) Three idealistic Public Defenders struggle against the odds in the Deep South in this Sundance award-winning doc by Montclair-based director Dawn Porter. In Person: Dawn Porter, producer Julie Goldman, co-producer Summer Damon, editor Matt Hamachek, office manager Amanda Goscinsk & assistant editor Tim Kauffeld (April 30, 7:00 pm, Bellevue Theater. May 5, 2:45 pm, Bellevue Theater)

Shored Up (2013, Ben Kalina) Set partly in New Jersey in wake of Hurricane Sandy, this documentary is a call to action in the face of rising sea levels. In Person: Ben Kalina, editor Marc D’Agostino, cinematographer Jen Schneider & executive producer Brian Newman (May 5, 3:00 pm, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School)

Special Presentations

Filmmaker Party Join the party with people from behind the films you’ve enjoyed at the festival. (May 4, 9:00 pm – 1:00 am, (Egan & Sons)

House Party Named with a wink to the 1990 hit film, “House Party” celebrates achievement in black cinema. (May 3, 9:00 pm – Midnight, The Loft)

The New York Times’s Op-Docs (2011-2013, Various) Sample the work and meet the  filmmakers behind the New York Times Op-Docs series of short documentaries. In Person: Jason Spingarn-Koff (Series Producer), Andrew Rosenthal (Editorial Page Editor), filmmakers (May 4, 4:45 pm, Bellevue Theater)

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