Film lovers of the region can rejoice. In addition to the multiplex AMC and Regal chains and the independent Montgomery Theater presenting a bounty of new releases, there are now more regional opportunities than ever to get out and get a big screen viewing of curated independent, art house, and classic films — and even interact with filmmakers.
And for filmmakers themselves, there are more chances to submit films to the upcoming festivals.
So with films already screening and festivals ready to reel, let’s have a look at the coming attractions:
New Jersey Film Festival, Voorhees Hall, Hamilton Avenue, New Brunswick. www.njfilmfest.com.
The NNFF’s fall installment — it’s a year round project — gets rolling on Friday, September 13, with the Chinese-made feature film “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” a noir-inspired film of a man seeking a woman from his past.
But the full weekend screenings continue with the September 14 showing of Hamilton filmmaker Mikail Ekiz’s “Pit Stop,” a stop-motion short about a convenience store clerk who can predict the future with a Magic 8 Ball; the Canadian made short “All-In-Madonna,” about a girl discovering secrets regarding her father; and the feature film “Impossible Monsters,” New York City director Nathan Catucci’s story of a professor’s research on nightmares becoming one itself.
Then the weekend wraps up on September 15 with an all-New Jersey program that includes two shorts: South Amboy’s Thom Leavy’s record-industry related “On Vinyl: Revival and Survival,” and East Rutherford-based Daniel Ferrer “Ex Disposer,” about a neurotic hardcore NJ drummer facing the fallout from his split with a band.
They are followed by Frenchtown-based (and Princeton High graduate) director Brad Mays’ feature-length documentary “Two Trentons.” Billed as a “hard-hitting yet affectionate portrait of urban decline and revival,” the film includes interviews with Trenton community members and footage of an infamous shooting. Mays will be on hand for questions and answers.
Looking ahead, the festival running on mainly on Fridays and Sundays continues as follows:
September 20: The French feature-length love story “Online Billie” billed with three shorts from England, India, and New York City.
September 22: The Florida-made “Off The Rails,” a coming of age feature film, with shorts from California and Spain.
September 27: “Juanita,” Dominican director Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s feature-length “dramedy about migration, love, and survival.” Accompanying it are two shorts on contemporary issues.
October 4: “Rebuilding History: Three Miles Across the Hudson,” New Brunswick filmmakers Adam J. Boyer and Eric Keneifel’s short on the building, decay, and renewal of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Also on the program is “Clean Hands,” Queens director Michael Dominick’s feature-length documentary chronicling the path of a family striving to overcome its impoverished life of living in the shadow of Central America’s largest dumpsite.
October 6: “Breaking Their Silence,” a feature-length documentary from California exploring the world of wildlife trafficking and the women trying to stop it in its tracks.
October 11: “Fallen Angels,” a feature-length film from Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai billed as “a must-see film by one of world cinema’s most important directors.”
October 13: Another Jersey Fresh program that includes New Brunswick director Sam Spencer’s short “Vigil,” a tribute to Newark animal rights activists; New Brunswick’ Kirsten Pasewaldt’s “Drown,” a short touching on emotional abuse and desperation; North Brunswick director Richard Sears Walling’s “Sold South,” a true story dealing with a 19th-century Middlesex County magistrate who uses his position to sell kidnapped free Americans of African ancestry into slavery;
Princeton-based filmmaker Danielle Eliska Lyle’s “Shield,” about a traumatized girl and a caregiver’s creative use of comic books to help her; “To Make a Long Story Short: Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns,” Manahawkin’s Sal Del Giudice’s story of a two-foot-tall wheelchair-bound man who manages one of the Jersey Shore’s most popular musical groups; and “Chuck: A Funny Farm Story,” Millville director Jason Penza’s story about a woman who along with her dog runs a New Jersey animal sanctuary. Tickets are $9 to $12.
Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts Radical Nonfiction Film Series, James Stewart Film Theater, 185 Nassau Street. arts.princeton.edu.
The series gets started on Thursday, September 26, with the 7 p.m. screening of American documentary filmmaker (and series curator) Robert Greene’s “Bisbee ’17.” The subject is the 100th anniversary of the Arizona town of Bisbee’s mass deportation of 2,000 striking immigrant miners taken by cattle cars to the middle of a desert and left to die.
The film includes a 2017 commemoration and community members recreating the deportation. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Greene and Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.
Other films in the series that involves “fantasy, observation, and elasticity in the documentary film series” are New York City-based Garrett Bradley’s “America,” November 10; American director Zia Anger’s interactive engagement “My First Film” shown with Beirut-based Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s “Walled Unwalled,” October 17; Rhode Island-based filmmaker RaMell Ross’s “Hale County” and “Easter Snap,” November 7.
All films start at 7 p.m., free and open to the public, and include a conversation with Greene and filmmakers.
The Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, www.ias.edu/events.
The annual Institute Film Series screens on a monthly basis from October through December and February through April. Open to the public, the free series is curated by the IAS School of Social Science and, according to organizers, “offers the opportunity to hear from the film producers, creators, and curators.”
Film titles and event details are added prior to each screening, so viewers will have to stay alert. But this season’s first screening in Wolfensohn Hall is set for Wednesday, October 2, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Princeton Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, Princeton, www.princetongardentheatre.org.
The nonprofit film center owned by Princeton University and operated by Renew Theater hosts several noncommercial film events complementing its series of currently released films.
One is “Prof Picks,” a series created by regional universities and college professors and educators who select and present the film and engage in audience conversations. Coming up: The Clint Eastwood western “A Fistful of Dollars,” presented by Princeton professor and internationally known poet Paul Muldoon, October 22; Roman Polanski’s horror classic “Rosemary’s Baby,” with Rutgers University professor of psychiatry Anthony Tobia, October 31; and Marilyn Monroe drama “Niagara,” hosted by Princeton University professor and internationally known novelist Joyce Carol Oates, November 14.
Another is the Lively Arts series that telecasts London’s National Theatre Live and Royal Opera House productions and films on art and artists. The fall schedule includes London’s Adelphi Theatre’s production of “Kinky Boots,” September 22; National Theatre’s production of “Hamlet,” featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, September 29; Royal Opera’s “Don Giovanni,” November 10; and the “Art on Screen” presentations of “Tintoretto: A Rebel in Venice,” October 6, and “Gauguin in Tahiti: Paradise Lost,” November 3.
Then look for the events developed in cooperation with other organizations, such as the Princeton University Concerts screening of “Martha Graham: Dance on Film” and the Princeton University Department of French and Italian Studies-related telecast of the French theater production of Moliere’s “Le Misanthrope” (subtitled), October 10, and the essential Art House Classics presentations of “Citizen Kane,” October 24, “Rashomon,” October 30, and other film gems. General tickets range from $8 to $18, depending on the event. Membership opportunities are also available.
Hopewell Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, 609-466-1964, hopewelltheater.com.
In addition to its series of live concerts, Hopewell Theater, a commercial venture partnering with area nonprofits, is offering regional audiences various film experiences. One series is the monthly “Films That Made Music,” featuring the gritty 1973 reggae influenced “The Harder They Come,” September 19; “Quadrophenia,” based on the Who’s 1973 rock opera; and “Xanadu,” the 1980 Olivia Newton John roller-disco vehicle.
Others include the “Wayback Wednesday” classics, “Family Matinees,” “From Stage to Screen,” and the announced “The Art of Living Well” programming that includes “The Edge of Paradise,” a conflict of lifestyles in 1969 Hawaii, September 24; “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” about the abrupt change created by humans in the 20th century, October 8; “Becoming Nobody,” an exploration of the life and thoughts of the Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass, October 22; “The Bikes of Wrath,” about a group of Australian cyclists traveling and reflecting on the roads and region’s featured in Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” November 5; and more. $11.25 to $12.50.
The ACME Screening Room, 5 South Union Street, Lambertville, www.acmescreeningroom.org.
The nonprofit weekly independent and documentary film series was founded by Friends of Lambertville Library in 2008 in partnership with the Lambertville Free Public Library and the City of Lambertville in the former ACME Supermarket building. It presents a series combining independent, art house, and foreign-made films and often features film-related guest speakers (authors, directors, and activists), post-film discussion programs and/or exhibitions. Check for the dates of the upcoming films: “Linda Ronstadt — The Sound of My Voice,” “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” (about the making of the Broadway show “Fiddler on the Roof”), and “Bill Cunningham New York,” focusing on the New York Times street fashion photographer. $8 to $15.
Princeton Independent Film Festival, Princeton Campus, www.prindiefest.com.
The fifth annual “Prindie” is set for September 21 through 23 with screenings taking place on the Princeton University’s campus. Organizers are offering a showcase of short films with live performers, virtual reality demos, educational speakers, and other opportunities to help audiences “get involved and experience the right touch of a party vibe.” $8.
Rutgers Jewish Film Festival. Showings at AMC New Brunswick, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, and Garden Theater. bildnercenter.rutgers.edu/events/film.
The 20th festival is set for November 3 through 17. The event includes award winning international and Israeli films, conversation with directors and film experts. Schedule and ticket prices TBA.
Trenton Film Festivals, Mill Hill Playhouse, 205 East Front Street, Trenton. trentonfilmsociety.org.
The Trenton Film Society is ready with two of its annual events: The Oscar Shorts Film Festival, set for February 6 through 9, and the Trenton Film Festival, running March 26 and 29. $8 per screening.
The Princeton Environmental Film Festival, Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. princetonlibrary.org/peff.
The annual PEFF featuring shorts and documentaries from around the world is set for April 13 through 19, 2020.
Nassau Film Festival, Princeton Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, Princeton. nassaufilmfestival.org.
The sixth annual NFF is on schedule to return May 16 and 17 with its two-day celebration of short films and music videos from around the globe. Held at the Princeton Garden Theater, the free event includes all styles and levels of filmmaking and question and answer sessions with the filmmakers.
New Hope Film Festival, various New Hope-area venues, newhopefilmfestival.com.
Founded in 2009 “to discover and nurture independent filmmakers, many of whom are seeking world and U.S. debuts and remain overlooked and/or underappreciated by other forums,” the summer festival returns in 2020 from July 17 through 26.