New Jersey Stage menu
New Jersey Stage home
New Jersey Stage search button

Search website



NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

By Gary Wien, JerseyArts.com

originally published: 09/11/2020

NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

Film lovers will not be able to enjoy the Fall 2020 New Jersey Film Festival (NJFF) in the theatre, but they will be able to see the films at home. Since Rutgers University will not have any events take place on the New Brunswick campus this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will be presented virtually.  Running from September 13 to October 25, more than 40 films will be screening, with many receiving their New Jersey or area premieres (Middlesex County).

Albert Nigrin is the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc. and a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University. He says the festival chose Eventive to be the festival provider because they have been streaming films online for many years and have an excellent reputation.

“The Oxford Film Festival, run by my friend Melanie Lynn Addington, was one of the first Festivals to go virtual earlier this year and she has raved about them,” explained Nigrin. “After I met with Eventive's CEO Iddo Patt, I knew we were in good hands. All the films will be available on VOD (Video on Demand) for 24 hours on their show date. There will also be special Filmmaker Introductions and Q+A Sessions available for many of the films.”

NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

This is the 39th anniversary of the New Jersey Film Festival.  According to Nigrin, the films were all selected before the move to virtual screenings was made.  Essentially, the fall festival includes the films that were selected for the summer 2020 festival, which was postponed, as well as selections for the fall, creating twice as many screenings as usual.

And the festival had plenty of films to choose from. Even with the pandemic, there was an increase in the number of submissions to the fall 2020 festival.  Submissions for the spring 2021 festival are going strong as well.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

Some highlights throughout the festival include:

Shaun Katz’s “Underground Inc: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock” documentary on September 13 –This tells the story of the rise and fall of the alternative rock scene, in the wake of Nirvana’s success. Starting with its roots in the ‘80s underground punk scene, viewers will witness the meteoric rise to mainstream dominance and how it all came crashing down against a world of excess and greed. The film features interviews with a range of musicians and insiders from White Zombie, Queens of the Stone Age, Helmet, Clutch, Fishbone, Red Fang, Steve Albini, and more.

*   Stephen Mill’s feature filmLove is not Love” on September 26 – With biting dialogue and a quirky take on romance, the film explores the myth and the reality of fantasy, fate, and love. In the film, Frank has been married to Paula for 30 years, and fears that he has missed out on something that always seems just out of reach. His search leads him to a much younger woman who works as an escort, and who initially makes him feel whole again. Blinded by the fantasy that she could be his true love, he gradually recognizes that this is merely a fable produced by his yearning.

David Scott Kessler’s documentary “The Pine Barrens” on October 9 – One of a few films with a distinctive Garden State angle, this documentary captures a six-year period of time in which politics threatened to undermine the Pineland's protections. Kessler filmed the forest and its inhabitants in order to create a growing and evolving portrait of nature and identity. The project, which evolved as a series of live performance scored by The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra, aims to capture the surreal wonder of the Pinelands in the hope of rekindling the sense of importance and imagination that helped to preserve it over 40 years ago.

Carolyn Jones’s documentary “In Case of Emergency” on October 10 – This film follows emergency nurses and their patients in seven unique settings across the U.S, from urban to rural, shedding light on some of the biggest health care crises facing Americans today, and the opportunity that emergency nurses have to help break a sometimes-vicious cycle for patients under their care.

Julia Kots’ drama “Inez & Doug & Kira” on October 16 When Inez took her own life after a long struggle with bipolar disorder and drug addiction, no note was left, just a pile of old photos strewn about her bed. The two people closest to Inez – her sister, Kira, and fiancé, Doug – are left with many questions. Doug embarks on a self-destructive quest to decipher the significance of the photographs and understand what pushed Inez to the point of no return.

NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

Two nights of short feature films on September 20 and October 3, one night featuring experimental short films on September 25, and one night featuring short documentaries on October 4.

NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

“The pandemic has certainly been terrible for brick and mortar cinemas and film festivals like ours,” said Nigrin. “It looked like we would lose thousands of dollars by not holding our annual Summer International Film Festival. Nonetheless, I was not despondent. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try something different.

“I [was] telling my wife Irene the other day that over the last 39 years of running the NJFF, that when things take a turn for the worse or we need help, a genie comes to our rescue. Well, that genie showed up in the nick of time this summer. Rutgers was going to have a summer session with all of its classes being held remotely and they would need to have some extracurricular activities and programming for their students. So I reached out to Krystal Ann Ladao, the Senior Program Coordinator of the Rutgers Summer Session office, to see if they would be interested in sponsoring a Best of the Spring 2020 New Jersey Film Festival series, and she was very interested and enthusiastic about it. I proposed to do 4 screenings, which would feature the films that won prizes at the Spring Festival. 

“Rika Rana the Senior Project Manager from Rutgers Game Research & Immersive Design (GRID) was instrumental in figuring out all of the technical logistics and we pulled it off. We averaged about 80 people for each of these screenings in June. The June screenings were free and open to the public via our Facebook pages, as well as shared via Webex for the summer session students.

“It was so popular that we did three more screenings for just the summer session students in July. We still lost money this summer, but the Best of NJFF series made it not as terrible, as we were able to generate some income thanks to Rutgers Summer Session.”

NJ Film Fest Goes Virtual for Fall 2020

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

The virtual screenings in June could also be seen as a test run for the Fall Festival.  Judging by the response they received, Nigrin says short films and features were both chosen equally online.  He learned that there are positives and negatives about virtual screenings.  But, for him, nothing beats seeing films in a theatre setting and he looks forward to the day that returns.

“Seeing a film with a lot of people in a movie theatre with a large screen and nice sound system truly is a different and, in my view, mostly better experience,” said Nigrin. “I look forward to going back to doing that; but, to be honest, there is a positive side to screening films virtually, as now someone in Texas or someone in France can now be a part of our festival. It opens us up to a new audience.”

Tickets for the festival can be purchased online. The complete schedule and information about each film can be found there as well.


About the author: Gary Wien is a music journalist from Belmar, NJ. A three-time winner of Asbury Music’s Music Journalist of The Year, his writing and photographs have been seen in publications like Upstage Magazine, Backstreets Magazine, Gannett Newspapers, and Princeton Magazine. He is the also the author of two books: Beyond The Palace (about the history of rock music in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? (his picks for the Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists) and is the publisher of New Jersey Stage magazine.

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.




Tuesday, August 09, 2022 @ 10:30am & 7:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: film

Click here for 10:30am | Click here for 7:00pm

The Art of Living Well: Five Summer Stories

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 @ 7:00pm
Hopewell Theater
5 S. Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, NJ 08525
category: film

Click here for full description

Glen Burtnik’s The Summer of Love Concert — Woodstock Edition

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 @ 8:00pm
Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC)
100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
category: music

Click here for full description


Thursday, August 11, 2022 @ 6:00pm
Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) - Vail Mansion Plaza
110 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
category: music

Click here for full description


Thursday, August 11, 2022 @ 10:00am & 12:00pm
Grunin Center
1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754
category: kids

Click here for 10:00am | Click here for 12:00pm

Summer Family Thursdays & Fridays

Thursday, August 11, 2022 @ 10:00am
Newark Museum of Art - Main Building
49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102
category: kids

Click here for full description

NMOA Summer Series | A Night of Jazz and Soul with Patience Higgins and the Sugar Hill Quartet

Friday, August 12, 2022 @ 7:00pm
Newark Museum of Art - The Garden
49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102
category: music

Click here for full description

The Who's Tommy

Friday, August 12, 2022 @ 8:00pm
Algonquin Arts Theatre
60 Abe Voorhees, Manasquan, NJ 08736
category: theatre

Click here for full description

Summer Family Thursdays & Fridays

Saturday, August 13, 2022 @ 10:00am
Newark Museum of Art - Main Building
49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102
category: kids

Click here for full description

For more event listings, click here



more in film



New Jersey Stage © 2022 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on our RSS feed

Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows