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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

amicable

phone call but it was probably the only one." In November, a

lawyer

representing the Media Arts board and Nigrin sent a "cease and

desist" letter.

The question may be moot, because a scheduled December 14 press

conference

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

Festival

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

("Welcome

to the Dollhouse") who will attend the screening of his

controversial

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

Wars."

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

double

bill features "The Kiss" and "My Hustler," March 26

and 27.

Nigrin, who admits "a selfish motive" behind the Warhol

series,

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.

"Warhol

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

filmmaking

and video-making community," says Nigrin, sounding a touch

combative.

"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

Top Of Page
Film Series

New Jersey Film Festival. Presented by the Rutgers Film

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

732-932-8482.

Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore, Sarah Jacobson’s sexual

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.

Pi,

a Darren Aronofsky film that spirals inward to madness and outward

to mysteries of the universe, January 29 and 30.

Gods and Monsters, Bill Condon restages the life of James

Whale, the British director who created the 1931 film

"Frankenstein"

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

underwear

through a war-torn city, and a ship rippling through a desert,

February

11.

The Celebration, a Danish family melodrama by Thomas

Vinterberg

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

Festival ,

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

collision

of cultures on the American-Mexican border, February 28.

Gadjo Dilo, Tony Gatlif’s portrayal of the experiences

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

Furniture,

Maria Venuto, Gary Roma, and Dan Martinico, March 24. Potemkin,

Sergei Eisenstein’s landmark work depicting the mutiny aboard

battleship

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.

Last Year at Marienbad, the classic French New Wave by

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.

Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini’s celebrated film,

staring a young Giulietta Mesina, fully restored, with a digital

soundtrack

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

Crocodile

Tears , Ted Sod’s serio-comedy of a HIV positive gay man who sells

his soul to the devil, April 18.

The Saltmen of Tibet, Ulrike Koch’s travelogue featuring

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.

Top Of Page
Mainstream Flicks

Confirm titles with theaters.

A Bug’s Life. A creepy creation from the "Toy

Story"

team. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall, Loews.

A Civil Action. John Travolta as the lawyer who takes

on some heavy-handed industrial polluters, directed by Steven

Zaillian.

Marketfair, Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.

A Simple Plan. Sam Raimi’s chilling thriller about a $4

million windfall, with Bridget Fonda, Bill Paxton, and Billy Bob

Thornton.

Loews.

At First Sight. Val Kilmer, as a blind masseur whose sight

is restored, stars with Mira Sorvino in this Irwin Winkler film.

Marketfair,

Regal, Loews.

Babe: Pig in the City. The familiar pig meets new friends.

East Windsor.

Down in the Delta. Maya Angelou’s directorial debut has

Alfre Woodard in the main role. Mercer.

Elizabeth. Cate Blanchett reigns over intrigue, passion,

and violence in this Shekhar Kapur British history flick.

Kendall.

Enemy of the State. A pounding thriller by Tony Scott

stars Will Smith and Gene Hackman. Mercer, Regal, Loews.

Jack Frost. A Christmas fantasy with the irrepressible

Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, and Mark Addy. Kendall.

Hilary and Jackie. Anand Tucker portrays the sibling

rivalry

between two talented sisters played by Emily Watson and Rachel

Griffiths.

Loews.

Hurlyburly. Anthony Drazan explores the battle of the

sexes in this film starring Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright

Penn, and Anna Paquin. Mercer.

In Dreams. Annette Benning stars in this psychological

chiller from Neil Jordan. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews.

Mighty Joe Young. Hollywood’s favorite gorilla returns

to the silver screen in Disney’s latest. Mercer, Regal, Loews.

Patch Adams. Robin Williams brings his comedic heart to

this true-life story about an unconventional doctor, directed by Tom

Shadyac. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.

Practical Magic. Witches, broomsticks, Sandra Bullock,

and Nicole Kidman. East Windsor.

Rugrats. The popular television show for the

just-out-of-diapers

crowd gets to the big screen. Mercer, Regal, Kendall, Loews.

Shakespeare in Love. Joseph Fiennes plays tha Bard who

draws inspiration for his immortal `Romeo and Juliet’ from Gwyneth

Paltrow as the lovely Viola. Mercer, Regal.

Star Trek: Insurrection. The cultish crew’s latest

frontier

is the habitat of Ba’ku, a bubbling fountain of youth. Regal,

Loews.

Stepmom. Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris

in a celebration of the modern family. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall,

Loews, Montgomery.

The Faculty. Terrified teens realize their teachers are

from another planet (aren’t they all?) in this Robert Rodriguez fright

flick. Marketfair, Regal, Loews.

The Prince of Egypt. An animated and musical version of

the story of Moses that’s is too much like Sunday school — but

the parting of the Red Sea is awesome. Marketfair, Regal, Kendall,

Loews.

The Thin Red Line. A war epic from Terrence Malick

starring

Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, and Woody Harrelson. Marketfair, Regal,

Loews, Montgomery.

The Waterboy. A good-hearted comedy with Adam Sandler

in the title role. East Windsor.

The Wizard of Oz. Digitally restored and remastered.

East

Windsor.

Varsity Blues. Jon Voight’s coming-of-age football comedy

directed by Brian Robbins. Mercer, Regal, Loews.

Virus. Jamie Lee Curtis and William Baldwin star in yet

another terror flick from the makers of `Aliens’ and `Terminator.’

Marketfair, Regal, Loews.

Waking Ned Devine. This critically-acclaimed comedy

directed

by Kirk Jones stars Ian Bannen and David Kelly. Garden,

Marketfair,

Regal, Montgomery.

You’ve Got Mail. The `Sleepless in Seattle’ crew —

Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Nora Ephron — together again. Mercer,

Regal, Kendall, Loews, Montgomery.

Wajood. Hindi movie. East Windsor.

Top Of Page
Venues

East Windsor Cinemas, Routes 130 and 571, East Windsor.

609-443-9295. $3 shows; $2.50 matinees.

Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, Princeton,

609-683-7595.

Kendall Park Cinemas, Route 27, Kendall Park,

732-422-2444.

Loews Theaters, Route 1 South, New Brunswick,

732-846-9200.

Stadium-seating multiplex.

MarketFair-UA, Route 1 South, 609-520-8700.

Mercer Mall General Cinemas, Route 1, Lawrence,

609-452-2868.

Montgomery Center Theater, Routes 206 and 518, Rocky

Hill, 609-924-7444.

Regal Cinemas Town Center, 319 Route 130 North, East

Windsor, 609-371-8470. Stadium-seating, 15 screens.


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