New films from around the world or around the block are all part of the fall season, thanks to area film festivals and university screenings. Here are just some of the opportunities for film lovers.
The New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University in New Brunswick returns on Friday, September 14, for its 36th fall of international, American independent features, animation, experimental, and documentary films.
The festival featuring more than 30 titles and 23 festival premieres continues Thursdays through Sundays evenings through October 26.
The selected films were screened by a panel of judges including media professionals, journalists, students, and academics from among 507 works submitted by filmmakers from around the world.
The September 14 opener includes the short Australian film “Whoever was Using This Bed,” a drama based on a short story by Raymond Carver, and “Funny Story,” California-based director Michael Gallagher’s feature-length tragicomedy of a TV star crashing his estranged daughter’s vacation.
The weekend continues on Saturday, September 15, with three entries by New York City directors: the eerie and fairytale-like shorts, Drake Woodall’s “Soot” and Frank Prinzi’s “It’s a Mess,” and Christopher Wells and Brian Berg’s “feature film “The Luring,” a psychological thriller of a man trying to recover a lost memory. Directors Prinzi, Wells, and Berg will be on hand to discuss their work.
And the Sunday, September 16, showcase of several short films, including works by New Jersey filmmakers: “BPM” by Greg Robbins, Weehawken; “Piano,” Brendan Walsh, Tuckerton; and “Broken Lullaby,” Bill McGarvey and Stella Rosen, Hoboken. Also on the program is the feature film “My Tourette’s,” Mexican director Alessandro Molatore’s documentary focusing on the lives of five people dealing with the syndrome.
Also coming up in the series are several unusual or engaging presentations. That includes the Sunday, September 23, documentary “Love, Work and Knowledge: The Life and Trials of Wilhelm Reich.” Created by New York filmmakers Glenn Orkin and Kevin T. Hitchey, the film uses primary materials, scholarly interviews, and eye witness accounts to examine the controversial psychiatrist’s work, theory of orgonomy, and his 1950s-era censorship. A post screening panel discussion features “Wilhelm Reich, Biologist” author James Strick, Rutgers soil science professor Joseph Heckman, and orgonomic researcher Tom DiFerdinano.
On Friday, September 28, there is the pairing of “The Kingdom: How Fungi Made Our World” by Australian filmmaker Annamaria Talas and “Rodents of Unusual Size” by San Francisco filmmakers Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, and Jeff Springer.
On October 5 there is “JFK — The Last Speech,” focusing on President John F. Kennedy’s Amherst College address on poetry and power. Director Bestor Cram will be on hand to discuss this feature-length film.
And on Sunday, October 7, Verona, New Jersey, director Matej Sileky presents “Baba Bahee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother,” a feature-length documentary telling the story of World War II-era Ukrainian children forced to abandon their families and become refugees in Europe and the United States.
The 2018 festival includes two highly anticipated screenings of great contemporary Chinese films that will be free and open to the public: “Mulan: Legendary Warrior” (October 12) and “The Killer” (October 26).
New Jersey Film Festival, Voorhees Hall, Hamilton Avenue, New Brunswick. Tickets range from $9 to $12. For a complete schedule for more information: www.njfilmfest.com.
The Princeton University Film Series is taking place in the newly renovated James M. Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The season starts on Tuesday, October 23, with a screening of “The Washing Society” by filmmakers Lizzie Olesker and Lynne Sach, also a professor of experimental film at Princeton University.
The free series continues as follows:
November 7: “Fail State,” an examination of the rise, fall, and resurgence of the predatory for-profit college industry and its relationship with both Wall Street and American lawmakers. It is directed by Brooklyn-based political documentary filmmaker Alexander Shebanow. Noted broadcast journalist Dan Rather is the executive producer.
November 14: New York-based independent filmmaker Debra Granik screens her new film “Leave No Trace.” The story is based on a real life incident where a father and daughter’s off-the-grid life in a nature preserve was destroyed and forced them to attempt to find a place for themselves.
November 28: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” New York-based Iranian-born director Desiree Akhavan’s story of a young girl sent to a gay conversion camp and her struggle to survive.
For more information: arts.princeton.edu/events/program/visual-arts.
The Garden Theater, Princeton’s nonprofit film center at 160 Nassau Street, is hosting several special events. “The Color of Medicine,” a 2018 film chronicling the rise and fall of St. Louis’ premiere black hospital screens Monday, September 17, at 5:30 p.m. followed by a panel discussion with Princeton University faculty members.
Art House Theater Day — created to recognize filmmakers, projectionists, staff, patrons, and more — features the free showings of the animated “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales” and the feature film “Cinema Paradiso.” There are also tours of the theater’s projection booth and other behind-the-scenes spots, all on Sunday, September 23, starting at 11 a.m.
A screening of the 1935 “A Call of the Wild” will be introduced by the Princeton University Art Museum’s Associate Director for Education Caroline Harris to highlight the PUAM’s new exhibition, “Nature’s Nation,” Tuesday, September 25, at 7:30 p.m.
And “Persona,” Ingmar Berman’s penetrating 1966 psychological drama, will be presented by Princeton Theological Seminary professor Clifton Black as part of the theater’s Prof Picks series, Thursday, September 27, at 7:30 p.m. 160 Nassau Street,
For more information: www.princetongardentheatre.org.
On the Horizon
The Princeton Independent Film Festival — AKA the Prindie — returns November 14 through 17 and showcases roughly 25 short and feature films. For information: www.facebook.com/prindiefest
And the 19th Rutgers Jewish Film Festival is set from October 30 to November 11. The event includes award winning international and Israeli films, conversation with directors and film experts. For information: bildnercenter.rutgers.edu/events/film.