Corrections or additions?
This article by Jack Florek was prepared for the January 23, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
New Jersey Film Festival
Springtime — a time when the birds chirp, the bees
buzz, and a young person’s fancy turns to thoughts of one night
A rich array of one-night showings of some of the 20th century’s most
exciting and artistically successful films highlight the 20th
season of the New Jersey Film Festival this spring at Rutgers
Films by John Cassavetes, Wim Wenders, G.W.Pabst, bolster a schedule
that also includes an interesting mix of new films from challenging
young filmmakers that are given three screenings over a single
"It’s an exciting lineup," says Al Nigrin, the festival’s
founder and curator. "We mix in some new films that deserve a
wider audience but will never be seen at the local multiplex, such
as `Hybrid’ and `The Fourth Dimension,’ with favorites like `The
of Oz’ and Francis Ford Coppola’s recent re-release of his masterpiece
`Apocalypse Now Redux,’ complete with nearly an hour of additional
footage that didn’t appear in the 1979 original."
Kicking things off this weekend, Friday through Sunday, January 25
through 27, is Stephanie Black’s "Life and Debt," a
that investigates the impact economic globalization can have on a
developing nation. Using conventional as well as unconventional
film techniques, Black’s camera probes the "mechanism of debt"
that is destroying the local Jamaican agriculture and industry,
them with sweatshops and cheap imports. The film features a vigorous
reggae soundtrack by Ziggy Marley. It will be shown at Scott Hall,
room 123, on the Rutgers College Avenue Campus. All screenings are
at 7 p.m.
Vietnamese-American experimental filmmaker Trinh Minh-ha’s acclaimed
film "The Fourth Dimension" will be shown at Scott Hall on
February 22 to 24. It is an elegant reflection on time, travel, and
ceremony in the form of a journey. Minh-ha examines the culture and
social rituals of Japan in this multi-layered work that ruminates
on the experience of time and the impossibility of ever truly
David Lynch’s darkly delirious "Mulholland Drive," a sleazy,
but untidy film reminiscent of 1940s film noir. will be screened March
1 to 3. Lynch’s surreal story involves a beautiful young woman who
stumbles away from a car crash to on Hollywood’s mythic Sunset
and eventually meets up with an aspiring actress with her eyes set
on movie stardom. This visually impressive film is chock full of
trademark twists of reality and unexpectedly eerie psychological
Nigrin, who is also an experimental filmmaker, has been the festival’s
curator since it began in 1982. "It started out as very much a
seat-of-our-pants type of operation," he explains. "It was
a free program on Monday nights and we showed a total of six films
in a smelly basement classroom, starting out with a retrospective
of the films of Man Ray."
That first year, a total of approximately 300 people attended the
six screenings. But by the early ’90s attendance had risen to
to 5,000 patrons seeing 30 to 40 screenings per year. "And we’ve
continued to grow," says Nigrin. "We now have 120 screenings
per year with an annual attendance of over 15,000."
Nigrin was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, where
his father was a pediatrician and his mother worked as a lab
He graduated from Rutgers in 1983 with a masters in French literature
and then switched his focus to film, receiving his MFA in film in
1986. Apart from his work with the Rutgers Film Co-op, Nigrin also
teaches four courses a year, serving as a lecturer in the Program
in Cinema Studies. He lives in Somerset with his wife and seven cats.
Billed as a one-night-only screening in honor of the Rutgers Film
Co-op’s 20th anniversay is a Nigrin favorite, Abel Gance’s 1927 epic
masterpiece "Napoleon," featured on Saturday, April 6 at Scott
Hall. Created at the dawn of the sound era, and reconstructed to its
original 240-minute version by Kevin Brownlow in 1981,
is a heroically sympathetic portrait of the French ruler, and features
Gance’s groundbreaking triple-screen, three-color (monochrome on each
screen) finale. This reconstruction was a labor of love for Francis
Ford Coppola and his father, Carmine Coppola, who composed and
the live orchestral accompaniment at its 1981 Radio City Music Hall
Among the other films that will be given only a single screening is
G.W. Pabst’s 1928 silent classic "Pandora’s Box" on February
7. This gem features the only truly great film appearance of Hollywood
icon Louise Brooks, playing a prostitute named Lulu. But Brooks’
is so charismatic and unforgettable that her image is still a regular
feature in fashion advertisements. An expressionistic film, rich in
shadows and visual innuendo, "Pandora’s Box" elegantly plays
on the dark passions of murder and lust.
"Gloria," John Cassavetes’ 1980 film starring his wife Gena
Rowlands as an ex-mob mistress who goes on the lam to protect a young
boy being chased by the mob, will be screened on Friday April 26.
Cassavetes, who made such remarkable independent films as
"A Woman Under the Influence," and "Lovestreams" from
the 1960s through the 1980s, is still one of the underappreciated
filmmakers of the 20th century. While "Gloria" is certainly
the most commercial film of his career, and exhibits the fewest
Cassavetes touches, it nevertheless is a strong film and can serve
as a nice introduction to Cassavetes’ work.
"Wings of Desire," German filmmaker Wim Wenders’ 1987 film
of reluctant angels who wish to experience the joys and sorrows of
earthly love, screens on Friday and Sunday, April 5 and 7. Visually
stunning and filled with ethereal dialogue that rings with poetry,
the film is nicely humanized by the salty performance of Peter Falk,
playing himself as a simple actor making a film in Germany.
"This festival has always been a labor of love for me," says
Nigrin. "We offer a lot of great work on the big screen that most
people wouldn’t have the chance to see otherwise."
— Jack Florek
NJ Film Festival
Sunday in Scott Hall, Room 123, Rutgers College Avenue campus, near
the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street. Thursday screenings
are in Loree Hall, Room 024, Douglass College campus, near the corner
of Nichol Avenue and George Street; with selected free events at
Books, Route 18 South, East Brunswick. Admission $5; all programs
begin at 7 p.m. Call 732-932-8482 or on the Web at: www.njfilmfest.com
to Sunday, January 25 to 27. Before the Nickelodeon, directed
by Charles Musser (1982), Thursday, January 31.
to Sunday, February 1 to 3. Pandora’s Box (1928) directed by
F.W. Pabst, Thursday, February 7.
(2001), Friday to Sunday, February 8 to 10.
to Sunday, February 15 to 17. The Wizard of Oz (1939), directed
by Victor Fleming, Thursday, February 21. The Fourth Dimension,
directed by Trinh T. Minh-Ha (2001), Friday to Sunday, February 22
February 28. Mulholland Drive, directed by David Lynch (2001),
Friday to Sunday, March 1 to 3. Heart of Glass (1976), directed
by Werner Herzog, Thursday, March 7. The Day I Became a Woman,
directed by Marziveh Meshkini (2000), Friday to Sunday, March 8 to
10. Tundra A Movie, directed by Victory Furniture and Bruce
Conner (1958 and 1998), free, Wednesday, March 27.
6. Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders (1987), Sunday,
April 7. The Town is Quiet, directed by Robert Guediguian
Friday to Sunday, April 12 to 14.
Also Hybrid, directed by Monteith McCollum (2001), Friday to
Sunday, April 19 to 22. Peanuts and Grain, directed by Albert
Gabriel Nigrin (1995-2002), free, Wednesday, April 24.
26. Everything For a Reason, directed by Vlas Parlapanides
Saturday, April 27.
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