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Spectacular Shorts

By Gary Wien

originally published: 02/26/2018

Spectacular Shorts

The first two weeks of the New Jersey Film Festival feature amazing short films that cover virtually every genre.  The works were selected by a panel of judges which include media professionals, journalists, students, and academics.  Four shorts stood out for us.

While doctors try to save Marion Ross (of Happy Days fame) from dying in The Final Show by Dana Nachman, we see her character in a house that includes her long-time hairdresser, her two husbands, and her first ever boyfriend.  Her mission in this comedy short is to choose one of them to spend eternity with. Two Balloons by Mark Smith is a sweet animated film about friendship, adventure, and travel between animals traveling in a pair of blimp like crafts. Lockdown by Max Sokoloff  is a terrifying look at a high school shooter roaming the halls who gets the school placed in lockdown mode on picture day.

And then there’s The Inescapable Arrival of Lazlo Petushki by Sven Werner, a film that is beautifully shot with a surrealistic quality as if it is part of a dream.  In the short, a young man is about to arrive in a mysterious city by boat, when he finds himself lost in the labyrinthine hull of the ship. Embarking on a surreal journey through the boat, he is chased by the inescapable, by himself, and by the very luggage he was hoping to leave behind. The short is sort of like a piece of poetry that can easily be interpreted many ways.

“I welcome various interpretations and listen carefully when people tell me of their experience of the film,” said Werner.  “I have a relatively clear idea of the narrative and what it means to me when making the film, but it’s the kind of film that will resonate differently with different people.  I do believe that leaving dark corners and not spelling everything out allows the viewer’s imagination to fill those gaps and make the journey more personal.”

Werner adds, “My intention was indeed to allow the audience to get a little lost in Lazlo’s inner experience of the situation, fueled and warped by his imagination.”



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All four shorts showcase beautiful filmmaking and feature good acting. They also all tell a distinct story; none of the films feel as anything more was needed to get their point across.

Spectacular Shorts

“Shorts are in some ways more difficult to create than features as you have to do more with less,” explained Albert Nigrin, Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.  “You have a time limitation and most likely financial limitations as well.  I’m not sure if shorts allow filmmakers more leeway with their work, but I can tell you that I see a lot of feature films that would be great short films.  Many filmmakers don’t know how to let go of some of their images.  They fall in love with too many of them and don’t realize they are bogging down their work.”

Nigrin says he believes narrative short films should make a distinct point, but experimental films do not have to be understood.  Sometimes the two worlds appear to collide as in The Inescapable Arrival of Lazlo Petushki.  Werner, from Glasgow, Scotland, took one and half years to create his short, and says many people have been enthusiastic about the film — a project that will hopefully be a stepping stone in his career.

“The truth is that I find the short film format rather challenging,” Werner admits.  “I really like arriving in a scene and its atmospheric intensity and look forward to making feature films.  The ultimate goal with this film and all of my work is to hopefully create a worthwhile experience that leaves people inspired.  I’m also hoping to establish my filmic handwriting with this short with the view to creating a feature next.”

The New Jersey Film Festival takes place on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick from January 26 through March 2nd.  The festival generally screens both shorts and feature films and every screening is a New Jersey or an area premiere. For more on the festival visit www.njfilmfest.com

Spectacular Shorts





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2018 Westfield International Film Festival To Take Place September 20-23
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Anybody can go to a movie theater to watch a film, but the Westfield International Film Festival is bringing movies to the mansion with its sixth season at the James Ward Mansion in downtown Westfield from September 20 - 23, 2018!  The festival will span a four day weekend and will include Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, networking opportunities, and red carpet parties.
JCTC FILM Premiers DEKA-LOG, New Series Depicting Contemporary Urban Life
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- A new anthology web-series by an up and coming, Jersey City-based filmmaker, premiers at Merseles Studios on August 23rd when Jersey City Theater Center presents DEKA-LOG: a Finding Me story.  Doors are at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00pm.  Admission is $10.
​​​​​​​The Newton Theatre Presents a Silent Film Halloween With A Live Orchestra
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Newton Theatre presents a trio of ghostly silent films paired with the original historic orchestral scores on Saturday, October 27 at 3:00pm. Travel back to the early 1900s to cheer and hiss with Buster Keaton in The Haunted House (1921), Laurel and Hardy in Habeus Corpus (1928), and Charlie Chaplin in One A.M. (1916). Between the films, enjoy the rollicking rhythms of the early 20th century as played by The Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra, featuring favorites by Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, and more! Fun for the whole family!
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival's Fall 2018 Lineup
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The 36th Bi-annual New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will take place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick from September 14 - October 26.  The festival showcases new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries through over 30 film screenings. The Festival will run on select Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The festival is presented by Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies.
​​​​​​​Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center To Hold Free Screening of "MILK"
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center will present a free screening of MILK (2015) on Wednesday, August 29th at 10:30am at Montclair Film’s Cinema505. The screening, presented in celebration of World Breastfeeding Month, seeks to educate and promote breastfeeding among nursing and expecting mothers.


Newark Black Film Festival
​​​​​​​Richard Wesley is a playwright, screenwriter, and professor of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has been involved with the Newark Black Film Festival for well over three decades. A Newark native, he’s currently the Chairperson of the festival’s Selection Committee. The NBFF is currently in full swing, with a screening of Cadillac Records tomorrow, and the biennial Paul Robeson Awards for young filmmakers taking place on Wednesday, August 8. This season’s program also features the films Selma, I Called Him Morgan, The Art of the Journey, Coco, and Hidden Figures. We recently spoke with Wesley about the history and mission of the Newark Black Film Festival, the role it plays in the lives of young filmmakers, and a chance encounter with Sidney Poitier that launched him into the film industry.
REVIEW: "Skyscraper"
Over the last half century, the concept of blockbuster spectacle has flipped on its head. In the 1960s, big budget spectacle meant Steve McQueen jumping over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle without the aid of a stunt double, or Julie Andrews screaming her lungs out on a Swiss mountainside. Science fiction was relegated to Saturday morning screenings of b-movies, which parents would use to relieve themselves of their tykes while they went shopping. George Lucas  changed all that a decade later, and now sci-fi and fantasy dominates the multiplex, while the only movies featuring practical stunts are those low budget straight to VOD action movies designed to showcase the athleticism of former MMA fighters.
REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman isn’t a remake of Ted V. Mikels’ infamous 1966 grindhouse staple. Rather it’s based on true events (“Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit,” reads the title card, because Lee is apparently a 12-year-old boy), the story of how rookie cop Ron Stallworth (played here in a star-making turn from John David Washington, son of Denzel) became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, despite being an African-American.
REVIEW: "When I Sing"
Most of the world learned of Linda Chorney in 2012 when her name was listed as one of the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album. Her film, When I Sing, not only follows her rise from obscurity to the Grammy Awards, it goes much further.  It’s a love story between a die hard Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan; a spotlight on how indie artists survive on the road; and a deeply, revealing portrait of how the media and the music industry turned what could have been a wonderful Cinderella story into a very hurtful experience.
REVIEW: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
I recall hearing an anecdote concerning a society of pranksters in 1970s London who would take trips en masse to the cinema, only to walk out when or if the title of the movie in question was spoken by a character. That lot would get their money’s worth with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as it’s not until the closing minutes that a returning original cast member (in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo) informs us that we’re now living in a “Jurassic World.” It’s the sort of cringeworthy moment that would normally cause me to groan, but I was so broken down by the laziness and ineptitude of this fifth installment in the franchise that I couldn’t even muster a sigh by that late point.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018


MUSIC

MEG BERRY / ROB CONNOLLY @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Quiksilver & Sea.Hear.Now present: Fishbone @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

The Pierce Sessions @ Pierce Memorial Presbyterian Church, Farmingdale - 7:30pm

Agent Orange @ The Stanhope House, Stanhope - 6:00pm


THEATRE

Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm






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