The New Jersey Film Festival returns with its annual winter series running weekends from Saturday, January 30, through Friday, March 4. The series features mainly independent films by international and American filmmakers, including several from the Garden State.

The January 30 opener features two films receiving their New Jersey premiers: “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart,” a 20-minute surreal German modern fairy tale where a woman tries to win back her successful commercial photographer ex-boyfriend at a photoshoot, and the feature-length “In The Dark,” a psychological horror film following a skeptical grad student and a renowned paranormal specialist investigating a haunted house and the deeply troubled woman who resides there. The directors for both films, Christoph Rainer and David Spaltro, will introduce the works.

On Sunday, January 31, are two films examining the effect of Super Storm Sandy on New Jersey: “Two Years,” Brooklyn director Lauren Hall’s look at a New Jersey community fighting to recover while a governor campaigns for a presidential election, and “After Sandy,” Howell, New Jersey, director Joe Minnella’s documentary on state residents still struggling to rebuild. Both directors will also be on hand to discuss the works.

The February schedule starts with the Friday, February 5, showing of “Crepusculo” (Twilight), Cuban director Juan Pablo Daranas’ short film about a young woman who works as a clown in a traveling circus and a boy whose skin disease prevents contact with sunlight. It is paired with “In the Game,” Chicago director Maria Finitzo’s documentary about a persistent inner-city girls’ soccer team aiming to become champions.

Then on Saturday, February 6, the festival screens “Tourists,” a 16-minute film about a couple on the verge of separation having their passion reignited through a song; “Through the Uncanny Valley,” Canadian director Pasquale M. Greco’s short futuristic parable about entering a relationship with a mail-order robot; and “Echo Lake,” Los Angeles director Jody McVeigh-Schultz’s feature-length tale of a 30-year-old man struggling with adulthood and inheriting a family cabin in the Sierras.

And that is just the start.

New Jersey Film Festival, Voorhees Hall #105, 71 Hamilton Street/College Avenue Campus, Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Tickets $9 to $12, some screenings are free. Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick provides free sandwiches prior to all showings. For information and complete schedule: 848-932-8482 or

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