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Great music documentary Chilltown, USA has its World Premiere at the 2016 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 12!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 10/24/2016
Great music documentary Chilltown, USA has its World Premiere at the 2016  New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 12!

Here is an interview with Chilltown, USA Director Elvie Mae Parian:

Nigrin:  Your illuminating feature-length documentary highlights the thriving music scene in Jersey City, and the musicians who strive to hold onto a local sound and culture, even as their city rapidly gentrifies. How did you come decide to make this film? How long did it take you to make it?

Parian:  The idea for Chilltown, USA came around at a tumultuous time in which I was undergoing a lot of stresses and anxieties about myself and the sort of dark, political world I knew I would have to face entering adulthood. I was in my third year at college, facing a combination of homesickness and a fear for my future - I'm pursuing art, what is there to not fear? I've lived in New York City to attend school so I became increasingly detached to what was going in Jersey City, my hometown. I would return to my parents' home every so often only to discover that something always seemed to change per visit. Seeing fancy new shops and food joints open up in your mall is no surprise and can honestly be quite exciting, but when local spots and bodegas you used to frequent are replaced with empty high-rises blocking the skies - it can get pretty alarming. It might be unfair for someone barely in her 20s to begin spilling her woes about the grievances of getting old, but the culmination of these observances forced me to acknowledge that my childhood was beginning to elapse.

When I say that, I can longer be an idle bystander and accept innocence as my shield. Every child has a specific point in their life when they lose their innocence: whether through their first experiences of pain, pleasure, or rather simply learning that cruelty exists in the world and not everything can be what it seems. I was beginning to understand the politics and consequences when your community begins to change in a way you wouldn't have fathomed before. A topic like gentrification is something that even adults can stumble their words over.

I was attending the School of Visual Arts and was lucky to have been in an environment that allows me to be constantly inspired by my other filmmaking peers. I decided documentary would then be an appropriate medium to explore this topic. I'm actually an animator and illustrator, but to deal with live-action video is an art form that I still embrace on the side. Music compartmentalizes discussion when it comes to the arts, culture, and community all in one, and to discuss the issue of gentrification is appropriate to the history of a community like Jersey City.



 
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Nigrin:  What kind of music is included in your film? What made you choose these? 

Parian:  The music featured and heard throughout the film is solely by the artists that were interviewed in support and further patroniziation of their work. I wanted to show that Jersey City has a diverse music scene comprised of different genres, age groups, ethnicities, and audiences. I was able to reach out to these artists based on who I knew back in high school and who I was able to reach out to through my research. New Jersey state as a whole is characterized as having this strong history with alternative rock and punk. However, places like Jersey City and Newark have grounded roots and still ongoing scenes in helping to define trends for hip-hop and club. Jersey City alone is not a monolith of one culture, so it would be unfair Initially, in the film's conception, my crew then wanted to focus and follow one band; I'm pretty glad that things did not turn out as initially planned.

Nigrin:  Were there any memorable stories in getting the film finished or any other info about your film you can pass on to us?


Parian:  The film initially had a lot more people on board until it essentially became a one-woman project. Besides my cameraman, Bryant Magdael - who managed to stick through despite being busy juggling other projects at that point in time - I practically have made this film all by myself. Besides the typical rockiness that most small film projects undergo through, I can say that the most interesting thing behind this production is not our hardships but rather, the accomplishments. I have never made a feature-length film before, and the fact that Chilltown has been successfully completed encourages me to explore a venture like this again in the future. The people I have met and have had their hearts open up to me were truly inspirational, and I continue to commend them through their art and struggle.

People should be encouraged to explore themselves through art, whether through expressing something freely or exploring a social issue. Regardless of that path you take, you will surely make something beautiful.

Chilltown, USA Trailer 

 

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Here is more info on this screening:

Chilltown, USA Elvie Mae Parian  (Jersey City, New Jersey) This illuminating feature-length documentary highlights the thriving music scene in Jersey City, and the musicians who strive to hold onto a local sound and culture, even as their city rapidly gentrifies. 2015; 63 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Elvie Mae Parian!



 
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Nathan East: For The Record Chris Gero (Nashville, Tennessee) This great music documentary takes viewers behind-the-scenes as Nathan East, one of the most influential bass players working today, recorded his long-awaited solo album (released in March) that spent four weeks at #1 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Album chart.
 East’s three-decade-plus career began when he hit the road at age 16 with Barry White, and soared when he joined the legendary jazz quartet Fourplay.  Featuring interviews with many of the musicians that he has jammed with, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, Don Was and many more. 2015; 95 min.

Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick and Capitol Corn & Confections will be providing free food prior to all New Jersey International Film Festival  Screenings!




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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