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New Jersey Film Festival
Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 20, 1999. All rights reserved.
I‘d rather be looking at films than dealing with
something as petty as this," says the amiable Albert Nigrin, with
a hint of irritation in his voice. The Rutgers’ cinema studies
lecturer, who is founder, director, and curator of the New Jersey Film
Festival, is talking about opening the spring season on Friday,
January 22. But there’s an underlying tension in his voice. The
source: the announcement last October 10 in the Newark Star-Ledger by
Bernard Gluckstern and David Marciano of a four-day international film
festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The proposed
festival with "the glitz of Cannes, the elegance of Toronto, the
artistic breadth of Sundance" and a $2 million budget was
intriguing. Although Nigrin says he welcomes more film activity in the
state, Nigrin was taken aback to discover the new group had dubbed its
festival "the New Jersey Film Festival."
Since fall, 1994, Nigrin’s New Jersey Media Arts Center, incorporated
in 1991, has presented twice yearly festivals under the service mark
New Jersey Film Festival. "Sure he can incorporating under New
Jersey Film Festival Inc., he just can’t trade under that name. We
trade under the name New Jersey Film Festival."
A week after the Star-Ledger story was published, Nigrin received
a phone call from Gluckstern. "The first statement out of his
mouth was that he was a Marine. I knew I was in for a fight when he
said that. I knew we didn’t share the same ideology. It was an
phone call but it was probably the only one." In November, a
representing the Media Arts board and Nigrin sent a "cease and
The question may be moot, because a scheduled December 14 press
by New Jersey Film Festival Inc. did not materialize after Marciano
and most board members resigned, and former governors Brendan Byrne
and Thomas Kean withdrew their support.
"Speaking as a former Marine, there are two possible outcomes
when you’re on the battlefield: victory or death," Gluckstern
told the Home News Tribune. "There will be a New Jersey Film
Inc. this summer." Says Nigrin: "Why should we move over and
relinquish something we’ve nurtured? I was never in the military,
I’m a pacifist. The festival serves as a model for my ideology. It’s
about inclusiveness, sharing cultures, and bridging communities."
The New Jersey Film Festival’s spring festival offers
a characteristic all-inclusive line-up. It opens with "Mary Jane’s
Not A Virgin Anymore," Sarah Jacobson’s 1997 sexually explicit
coming-of-age story, January 22 and 23. An outspoken proponent of
do-it-yourself filmmaking, Jacobson appears at the January 23 show.
The opening weekend includes "Free Tibet: The Tibetan Freedom
Concert", a film by Sara Pirozek that combines passionate politics
and music, on Sunday, January 24, at the State Theater.
Also making a personal appearance this season is Todd Solondz
to the Dollhouse") who will attend the screening of his
black comedy, "Happiness," at the State Theater on Sunday,
February 7. In April, screenwriter and actor Ted Sod appears at the
screening of his "Crocodile Tears."
In the festival’s "see it on the big screen" department comes
Akira Kurosawa’s "The Hidden Fortress," which Nigrin says
reveals where George Lucas got his inspiration for "Star
Set in 16th-century Japan, it nonetheless offers prototypes for Hans
Solo, R2D2 and C3P0, right down to borrowing from Samurai warrior
costumes and helmets. "Potemkin," Sergei Eisenstein’s landmark
work depicting the mutiny aboard battleship Potemkin which prefigured
the Russian Revolution, plays March 25.
"Last Year at Marienbad," the classic French New Wave film
by Alain Resnais that sets up a puzzle that is never resolved, a key
development in cinematic modernism, plays April 1. Also the new print
of Federico Fellini’s "Nights of Cabiria," staring a young
Giulietta Mesina, fully restored, with a new digital soundtrack by
Nino Roti and unreleased footage, plays April 16 and 17. This one
was widely requested by Media Arts members.
The festival also continues its ongoing Andy Warhol retrospective
that began in 1994 with Paul Morrissey’s screening of the 3-1/2 hour
"Chelsea Girls." "Warhol is one of the great primitive
filmmakers," says Nigrin. "The films are meant to challenge
the audience. They’re not for everybody." This year’s Warhol
bill features "The Kiss" and "My Hustler," March 26
Nigrin, who admits "a selfish motive" behind the Warhol
may also be the only person to have sat riveted in fascination before
President Clinton’s four-hour grand jury deposition. "Four hours
of `medium shot’" (meaning from the waist up), says Nigrin.
would have loved that. He was ahead of his time."
Screenwriting and filmmaking workshops are key elements of the Media
Arts mission, and there are three film artists’ festivals within the
spring festival. Most prominent is the nationally recognized annual
United States Super 8 Film and Video Festival, February 19, 20, and
21. After jurying by four critics, four media professionals, and four
film students, the winning selections tour to three or four cities
and the filmmakers earn royalties. Winners of the 1998 Super 8 Film
and Video Festival are featured on Wednesday, March 24. Works by J.D.
Barfield, Walter Von Egidy, Victory Furniture, Maria Venuto, Gary
Roma, and Dan Martinico are presented in a free screening at Borders
Books in East Brunswick.
Finally, the New Jersey Media Arts Exhibition celebrates recent films
and videos by New Jersey artists, April 30. Nigrin says the Media
Arts Center started its workshop program back in the early 1990s,
and now enjoys screening work by former students. Among this year’s
area filmmakers is Marilyn Harrod with a history of soul food film.
"This isn’t just about festivals, it’s about setting up a
and video-making community," says Nigrin, sounding a touch
"Our mission is to serve the entire state and we’ve been here
for 18 years, slowly building our festival from the ground up."
— Nicole Plett
Co-Op, independent, classic, international, and experimental films
screened in New Brunswick. Films are $5 ($8 Sundays), and begin at
7 p.m. Screenings Thursdays in Loree Hall, Room 024, Douglass College;
Fridays and Saturdays, Scott Hall, Room 123, Rutgers College Avenue
campus; Sundays at the State Theater, Livingston Avenue. Call
coming-of-age story, January 22 and 23. Director Jacobson appears
at the January 23 show. Free Tibet: The Tibetan Freedom Concert,
Sara Pirozek’s concert film that combines passionate politics and
music with reflections by the Dalai Lama, January 24. The Hidden
Fortress , Akira Kurosawa’s, epic-comic fantasy about an autocratic
young princess and her loyal samurai (subtitles), January 28.
a Darren Aronofsky film that spirals inward to madness and outward
to mysteries of the universe, January 29 and 30.
Whale, the British director who created the 1931 film
and killed himself in 1957, February 5 and 6. Happiness, from
Todd Solondz, a black comedy of missed connections, February 7. The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen , Terry Gilliam’s imagination takes
the baron and his companions into a fish, a balloon sewn from
through a war-torn city, and a ship rippling through a desert,
about a 60-year patriarch faced with shocking accusations by family
and friends gathered to celebrate his birthday (subtitles), February
12 and 13. 11th Annual United States Super 8 Film and Video
February 19, 20, and 21. The Brandon Teena Story, Susan Nuska
and Greta Olafsdottir’s disturbing story of the life and tragic death
of a young transvestite, February 26 and 27. Touch of Evil,
re-edited to Orson Welles’ original specifications, about the
of cultures on the American-Mexican border, February 28.
of a French musicologist in the world of the Gypsies (subtitles),
March 5 and 6. Selections from the 1998 U.S. Super 8 Film/Video
Festival , featuring J.D. Barfield, Walter Von Egidy, Victory
Maria Venuto, Gary Roma, and Dan Martinico, March 24. Potemkin,
Sergei Eisenstein’s landmark work depicting the mutiny aboard
Potemkin which prefigured the Russian Revolution, March 25. The
Kiss, Andy Warhol’s classic; also Warhol’s My Hustler, a
voyeuristic documentation of the private rituals between men, March
26 and 27.
Alain Resnais, setting up a puzzle that is never resolved, a key film
in the development of cinematic modernism, April 1. The Thief,
Pavel Chukhrai’s portrayal of post World War II Russia (subtitles),
April 2 and 3. The Eel, a murderer and a suicidal woman redeem
one another in this mixture of black comedy, surreal fantasy, and
offbeat romance by Shohie Imamura (subtitles), April 9 and 10.
staring a young Giulietta Mesina, fully restored, with a digital
by Nino Roti, and never-seen missing footage (subtitles), April 16
and 17. Conceiving Ada, Lynn Hershman Leeson grafts past and
future into an ingenious high-tech fantasy of time travel; also
Tears , Ted Sod’s serio-comedy of a HIV positive gay man who sells
his soul to the devil, April 18.
nomadic herdsmen in northern Tibet on a pilgrimage, April 23 and 24.
Two free art videos by Bill Viola at Borders Books, East Brunswick:
Anthem, unraveling the rituals of American materialism, and
Chott el-Djerid, opposing images of desert mirages and winter
prairies, April 28. New Jersey Media Arts Exhibition, Features
recent films/videos by New Jersey film and video artists, April 30.
Confirm titles with theaters.
team. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall, Loews.
on some heavy-handed industrial polluters, directed by Steven
Marketfair, Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.
million windfall, with Bridget Fonda, Bill Paxton, and Billy Bob
is restored, stars with Mira Sorvino in this Irwin Winkler film.
Alfre Woodard in the main role. Mercer.
and violence in this Shekhar Kapur British history flick.
stars Will Smith and Gene Hackman. Mercer, Regal, Loews.
Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, and Mark Addy. Kendall.
between two talented sisters played by Emily Watson and Rachel
sexes in this film starring Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright
Penn, and Anna Paquin. Mercer.
chiller from Neil Jordan. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews.
to the silver screen in Disney’s latest. Mercer, Regal, Loews.
this true-life story about an unconventional doctor, directed by Tom
Shadyac. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.
and Nicole Kidman. East Windsor.
crowd gets to the big screen. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews.
draws inspiration for his immortal `Romeo and Juliet’ from Gwyneth
Paltrow as the lovely Viola. Mercer, Regal.
is the habitat of Ba’ku, a bubbling fountain of youth. Regal,
in a celebration of the modern family. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall,
from another planet (aren’t they all?) in this Robert Rodriguez fright
flick. Marketfair, Regal, Loews.
the story of Moses that’s is too much like Sunday school — but
the parting of the Red Sea is awesome. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall,
Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, and Woody Harrelson. Marketfair, Regal,
in the title role. East Windsor.
directed by Brian Robbins. Mercer, Regal, Loews.
another terror flick from the makers of `Aliens’ and `Terminator.’
Marketfair, Regal, Loews.
by Kirk Jones stars Ian Bannen and David Kelly. Garden,
Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Nora Ephron — together again. Mercer,
Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.
East Windsor Cinemas, Routes 130 and 571, East Windsor.
609-443-9295. $3 shows; $2.50 matinees.
Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, Princeton,
Kendall Park Cinemas, Route 27, Kendall Park,
Loews Theaters, Route 1 South, New Brunswick,
MarketFair-UA, Route 1 South, 609-520-8700.
Mercer Mall General Cinemas, Route 1, Lawrence,
Montgomery Center Theater, Routes 206 and 518, Rocky
Regal Cinemas Town Center, 319 Route 130 North, East
Windsor, 609-371-8470. Stadium-seating, 15 screens.
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