2014 Montclair Film Festival Announces Lineup Of Over 90 Films & Events Set For April 28-May 4



Abbe Harris         908.233.7990             abbe@caramar.net


Over 100 special guests to attend including conversations with Kevin Smith, Julie Taymor, Stephen Colbert, Nelson George, Michael Moore

(Montclair, 4/3/14)  – Continuing to grow in its third year, the Montclair Film Festival (MFF) today announced the lineup for its 2014 edition. The announcement was made by Artistic Director Thom Powers and Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen.

The festival opens on April 28 with Chef, the new comedy directed by and starring Jon Favreau with an esteemed supporting cast that includes John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson, being released nationwide in May. Special guests for opening night will be announced in coming weeks. MFF’s popular live conversation series presents eclectic guests including Kevin Smith, Michael Moore and Julie Taymor paired with Stephen Colbert.

The festival hosts six world premiere films including 1 Way Up: The Story of Peckham BMX, presented in 3D, from the executive producers behind the Oscar-winning Inocente. The lineup also has two U.S. premiere documentaries: I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story about the 80-year-old puppeteer on Sesame Street; and Advanced Style based on the eponymous New York City photography blog focusing on fashionable older women. In addition, 56 feature length films will make their NJ premieres.

Representing MFF’s strong interest in comedy, the festival Centerpiece on May 2 is Fort Tilden, an award-winning satire of young Brooklynites, followed by a Q&A with directors Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, plus stars Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty. Closing Night on May 4 features Wild Canaries, a comic mystery starring Montclair-raised Sophia Takal, who will attend.

Expanding its commitment to black cinema, MFF partners with the Blackhouse Foundation to host the annual “House Party” on May 2 and showcases a full day of conversations on May 3 with distinguished filmmakers including director Nelson George, producer Lisa Cortes, editors Sam Pollard and Lewis Erskine.

“We strive to create a festival that reflects the diversity and wide-ranging interests of our community,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers. “We have a depth of local talent in northern New Jersey, combined with visitors from New York City that make for a festival with big influence beyond this small town.”

Other highlights of this year’s festival include:

Drama section: 14 narrative films celebrated on the festival circuit, 12 of them NJ premieres. Titles include the Sundance Audience Award winner for World Cinema, Difret, set in Ethiopia, with producer Mehret Mandefro attending; and Roman Polanski’s latest Venus in Fur.

Documentary section: 13 nonfiction films spanning global topics including two US premieres (noted above). Among the 11 NJ premieres are Dinosaur 13, about the legal battle over Tyrannosaurus Rex bones, with director Todd Douglas Miller and film subject Peter Larson in person; and Ivory Tower, analyzing controversies in American higher education, followed by a conversation with director Andrew Rossi and New York Times columnist David Carr.

Comedy section: 10 comedy films including the world premiere documentary I Am Road Comic directed by stand-up comedian Jordan Brady who will attend. Eight NJ premieres include Intramural, a send-up of sports films, with actor Beck Bennett (Saturday Night Live).

Black cinema: In keeping with Montclair’s African-American heritage, MFF takes a special interest in black stories and filmmakers throughout all sections of the festival. Directors in attendance include Thomas Allen Harris (Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People) and Michèle Stephenson (American Promise), in addition to the special guests for the Blackhouse Foundation conversations on May 3 (listed above).

New Jersey Spotlight: This section triples in size from six feature length films in 2013 to 18 this year. Five world premieres include the comedy Jammed, produced out of Teaneck, NJ, about a couple attending a jam band festival in the woods, and Girl, Adopted by Maplewood, NJ filmmakers, following an Ethiopian orphan girl for five years after she’s adopted by an American family. MFF will screen a work-in-progress version of Althea, a documentary about tennis great Althea Gibson who lived in Essex County, NJ with director Rex Miller attending. Additionally, three programs of short films with NJ connections appear in this section.

Family section: Three presentations including a 75th anniversary screening of The Wizard of Oz, with attendees encouraged to dress as their favorite characters. This section also screens the winners of MFF’s Kidz Shortz film contest featuring short films by young directors in grades 4-12.

Themed sections: MFF has three sidebar sections. Unique to this year is a section called “Focus on Civil Rights” featuring four documentaries that deal with the legacy of the civil rights movement including the NJ premiere of Freedom Summer, timed to the 50th anniversary of the push to register black Mississippi voters in 1964. Two other sidebars return from last year: “Movie Love” features two NJ premiere documentaries, The Dog and What is Cinema? that intersect with film history; plus a retrospective screening of Network, followed by a conversation with Dave Itzkoff, author of the book Mad as Hell, moderated by Stephen Colbert. “Music on Film” contains four films including the NJ premiere of No Cameras Allowed, a documentary about sneaking into music festivals by James Marcus Haney who will attend. Oscar®-winning (and NJ-based) filmmaker Alex Gibney will be in person to present his latest, Finding Fela, about the Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti.

Free Panels: Five free panels are open to the public. Two take place at in the pop-up storefront named the Audible Lounge: “Filming in New Jersey” on April 29 explores how NJ struggles to compete with other states that have higher tax incentives for film and TV; “The New Golden Age of TV” on April 30 looks at the rise of quality television dramas. Three free panels take place at the Montclair Public Library on May 3, including “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Film School” with filmmaker and teacher Chuck Workman leading the conversation.

MFF tickets & membership: Tickets are $14.00 for films and conversations, $12.00 for MFF Members and go on sale to the general public on Thursday, April 3 at www.montclairfilm.org. Special ticket prices for The Opening Night Gala film and reception, 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.

MFF venues: Venues include the Bowtie Clairidge Cinema, Bowtie Bellevue Theater, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Wellmont Theater and the temporary pop-up Audible Lounge (544 Bloomfield Ave).

About MFF’s festival directors

MFF’s artistic director Thom Powers and executive director Raphaela Neihausen are a husband-wife team highly respected in the festival world. In addition to MFF, they also run America’s largest documentary festival DOC NYC in November and the weekly Manhattan screening series Stranger Than Fiction, both based at IFC Center. In addition, Powers is the documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival in September and the online digital distribution platform SundanceNOW, curating its monthly Doc Club. The New York Times profiled Powers in 2013 calling him “a kingmaker for documentaries.”

MFF 2014 By the Numbers

This year’s Festival features six world premieres, two US premieres, 56 NJ premieres, 12 additional films, five shorts programs, four live conversations, five free panels, and two parties for a total of 92 separate presentations, an increase from 79 last year.

About MFF

Montclair Film Festival (MFF), which takes place April 28-May 4, 2013, is a community-based organization that produced its first edition in May 2012.  MFF exists to nurture and showcase talented filmmakers from around the world while creating a cultural focal point in the Township of Montclair that unites, empowers, educates and celebrates our region’s diverse community and robust artistic heritage. For information about MFF, visit www. montclairfilm.org/.  The 2014 Montclair Film Festival, a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, is made possible through generous support from Signature Sponsor Investors Bank and Presenting Sponsors Audi, Audible and the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Special thanks to Leadership Sponsors Chubb, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and HackensackUMC/Mountainside. The festival is also supported, in part, by a Grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel & Tourism. Additional support is provided by Neuberger Berman, RBC Wealth Management, W.H. Connolly & Co, LLC, the Montclair Cooperative School, Classic Party Rental, Franco Vitella Catered Affairs, Jersey Artisan Distilling, NJ Beer Company, Rose Brand, Aaron Morgan Imports, LLC and Wine County. Media Sponsors include NJ Monthly, NJTV, One to One, WNET, WNYC and Yelp. Thanks to Festival Partners the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Montclair State University and the Friends of the Festival.