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Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

originally published: 08/01/2023

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival takes place September 8th through October 8th with screenings on Fridays and Sundays.  The festival remains a hybrid one with in-person screenings at Rutgers University and films available via video on demand for 24 hours on the screening date. Nineteen films will have their New Jersey or Area Premiere (Middlesex County) screenings during the New Jersey Film Festival and the United States Super 8 Film and Video Festival.

Some highlights include: the world premiere of John Evans and Ani Javian’s Breaking The Surface – an experimental dance film about climate change; Fandango, portrait of an opera workshop – a documentary by Manno Lanssens/Joy Bechtler; Dean Kavanaugh’s Hole in the Head –  is an independent feature film from Ireland where the protagonist re-stages his family’s home movies in order to recall a traumatic event; Bill Basquin’s From Inside of Here which is a non-fiction feature that unfolds slowly to explore vulnerability and interconnection through the lens of an ecosystem and through the body of the filmmaker.

Dawn Mikkelson’s Minnesota Mean – a documentary feature about roller derby and powerful, self-sufficient women; Ken Kwek’s #LookAtMe – a feature from Singapore that focuses on restrictive public expression;  Takashi Hiroe’s ghost film from Japan entitled The Last Passenger; Emily Goodchild’s To Understand An Anemone – a lovely experimental film from England; an array of amazing short and experimental films by Joshua Kauffman (Things That Didn’t Happen), Martin Gerick (Night Ride From LA), Trevor Hemblin (Method), Katherine Myers (San Miguel), Lauren Adams (Animal), Kay Qiao (The Sacred Bees), Gabriel Rodriguez-Fuller (This is the Rill Speaking), Lauren Stevens (June), Evan Bode (Out of Frame), Charles Underwood (Pictures Only) and many others.

All the works being screened during the New Jersey International Film Festival were selected by a panel of judges including media professionals, journalists, students, and academics. These judges selected the 19 finalists which will be publicly screened at our Festival. The finalists were selected from over 402 works submitted by filmmakers from around the world. In addition, the judges will choose the Prize Winners in conjunction with the Festival Director. Prize winners will be announced via social media sites after the screenings on June 12, 2023.

General Admission Tickets are $15 Per Program; Festival All Access Pass is available for $100; In-Person Show Student Tickets are $10 Per Program. Ticket buyers will also have special access to Filmmaker Introductions and Q+A Sessions for many of the films. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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Each General Admission Ticket or Festival Pass purchased is good for both the virtual and the in-person screenings. The in-person screenings will be held in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ beginning at 5:00pm or 7:00pm on their show date.

The film festival is presented by the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center in association with the Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Schedule

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Friday, September 8 - Breaking The Surface, Fandango, To Understand An Anemone.  Online for 24 hours and In-Person at 7:00pm. 

Breaking The Surface – John Evans, Ani Javian (New Brunswick, New Jersey). Breaking the Surface is a dance film about climate change, specifically, about the rise of sea level and the issues that are caused by that rise, currently and projected into the future. The film focuses on communities in New Jersey and the region that are being, and will be, most affected by the changes. 2023; 26 min.

Fandango, portrait of an opera workshop – Manno Lanssens/Joy Bechtler (Antwerp, Belgium/Princeton, New Jersey). The risks are great and the odds are against them. In this workshop in Kinshasa-Congo, talented singers share their passion to sing…opera. With Joy Bechtler, voice coach at Operanauts, Inc., they get a rare opportunity to hone their talents. Together, they work on opera scenes to perform at a local restaurant. If the evening is a success, it could help them organize against the social chaos of their native Kinshasa and develop satisfying careers. The film concludes as the singers learn they have been invited to perform their program again, this time with additional music, as part of the popular local music series Arty Live, hosted at a luxury hotel. For the singers, it’s a golden opportunity. The question is, with just 3 days’ notice, can this small group of workshop participants prepare an entire evening of opera music for the public? In English and French, subtitled. 2023; 30 min.

To Understand An Anemone - Emily Goodchild (Newport/Cheltenham, United Kingdom). Following the journey of four protagonists - a human, a prop, a camera and water, this film explores the relationship between human and anemone. 2023; 14 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

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Sunday, September 10 - Honor Student, Things That Didn't Happen - Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7:00pm.

Honor Student – Tamika Miller (Los Angeles, California). Jeremy Chue is a picture-perfect teenager. He is talented, has the perfect grades, a well-off family, and attends a prestigious Washington, D.C. private school. At least that is how he appears. After losing his twin brother in a mass shooting, Jeremy takes matters into his own hands, holds a teacher hostage and proves America a lesson it’ll never forget. 2023; 82 min.

Things That Didn’t Happen – Joshua Kaufman (New York, New York). Years after a fateful car accident, a recluse remains uncomfortable in his skin and unable to shake off the feeling that a familiar stranger is watching him from just beyond the trees. 2022; 13 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Friday, September 15 - Minnesota Mean - Online for 24 Hours. Minnesota Mean – Dawn Mikkelson (Duluth, Minnesota). A year in the lives of six members of the Minnesota RollerGirls, one of the most competitive roller derby teams in the world, as they strive to win the Hydra, the top prize in Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby. When the star of the team gets injured, will her teammates find their own power? Minnesota Mean is a human drama about the pounding heart of roller derby: powerful, self-sufficient women. It’s a vital and relevant story of triumph, loss, strength, determination, and a search for balance between individuality and community. How do women who pride themselves on their hard-won independence thrive in a sport that requires them to rely on a team? How do they meet the full-time demands of the sport without sacrificing their own dreams for life outside the rink? 2022; 81 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Friday, September 15 - Solo Musical Performance by Tim Motzer - In Person at 7:00pm. After two decades of world touring, 12 solo guitar soundscape albums, and a multitude of stunning collaborations including over 100 albums of credits, Tim Motzer continues to “traverse manifold territories in music” (Guitar Player magazine). Tim is a sonic pioneer and widely known for his distinct textural acoustic-electro guitar voice utilizing looping, bowing, electronics, and prepared techniques. He has collaborated with numerous musical luminaries including David Sylvian, Burnt Friedman, Jaki Liebezeit, poet Ursula Rucker, Vernon Reid, David Torn, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto, and Percy Jones, among others. Since 2016, Tim has toured the world playing prestigious venues and jazz festivals with Bandit65, an improvising trio he co-leads with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and drummer Gintas Janusonis; their most recent release, Searching the Continuum (Heartcore Records), received a rare five-star review from J.D. Considine in Downbeat Magazine.  His film/TV credits include the hit HBO series True Blood as well as Miami Vice, a major motion picture directed by Michael Mann, and recently, the motion picture, Hustle, by Adam Sandler. As an in-demand, solo live composer/improviser in the world of modern dance,  Tim co-creates alongside master choreographers at Princeton University and the University of the Arts. He has composed  and performed with a diverse array of extraordinary choreographers worldwide including Peggy Baker, Olivier Tarpaga, Limon Dance Company, Sean Feldman, Won Kim, Raphael Xavier, Manfred Fischbeck and Curt Haworth among others. For the past 23 years, Tim has brought his dynamic, eclectic array of musical projects together under his own 1k Recordings imprint, which has over 60 releases and counting. He composes, records, and produces his own solo and collaborative work, along with projects for other artists.  For more info about 1k, please visit

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Sunday, September 17 - Shorts Program: Night Ride From LA, Method, Animal, San Miguel, The Sacred Bees, This is the Rill Speaking - Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5:00pm. 

Night Ride From LA – Martin Gerick (Krefeld, Germany). Night Ride from LA is based on a real car ride at night from downtown LA to the desert near Palm Springs a few years ago. The footage was taken from the car by continually shooting single long exposure photos to document the ride of about two hours without any break. This technique condensed the whole trip to a flickering twirl of time-stretched movements and night light graffiti causing a kind of psychedelic trance. A love letter to the energy and vibe of the Californian way of life. 2023; 5 min.

Animal – Lauren Adams (Los Angeles, California). Bitty and Minnie pilot their Post Haste Shipping Company vessel, delivering supplies for the ongoing and ambiguous rebuild of a collapsed America. For these pilots, their world is almost entirely contained to the inside of their ship - a self-driving behemoth with no windows onto the landscape that corporate assures them is haunted by dangerous Animals. Minnie has a vicious scar that seems to back up this warning. 2023; 15 min.

The Sacred Bees – Kay Qiao (Los Angeles, California). A caring man is finally forced to go out of his way to hunt down his love of life after her unbearable attitude switch and silent treatment. 2023; 16 min.

This is the Rill Speaking – Gabriel Rodriguez-Fuller. A lonely warehouse worker is besieged by visions. 2023; 23 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

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Friday, September 22 - Hole in the Head, Out of Frame, June - Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7:00pm.

Hole in the Head – Dean Kavanaugh (Wicklow, Ireland). Part-time projectionist and amateur filmmaker, John Kline Jnr, is mute and suffers from missing time. He hires local actors to play his parents in a series of recreated home movies in order to investigate their unsolved disappearance 25 years earlier. Hole in the Head is an independent feature film in which the protagonist re-stages his family’s home movies in order to recall a traumatic event. Melding new with old technologies and a film-within-a-film structure, this feature film proposes a hauntological discourse on autofiction, trauma and private ritual. 2023; 90 min.

Out of Frame – Evan Bode (Colorado). Trapped in their frames and monitored by a menacing curator, two paintings long to escape from the art gallery's white walls. As the paintings lock eyes across the room, an unspoken connection forms between them that sets the stage for revolution. With a distinctive blend of live-action and animation, this short film by Evan Bode employs surreal metaphor to explore ideas about power, resistance, queer identity, visibility, and liberation from constructed borders. 2023; 9 min.

June – Lauren Stevens (Los Angeles, California). June is a gas-station attendant, withered by the mundaneness of her central-valley life. She has recently come out as bisexual, much to the confusion of her manager Claudia who wants the best for her favorite (and only) employee. When June’s childhood best friend, Nia, wanders into the gas station unexpectedly, they recall a memory of a moment that changed the course of their lives – for better and for worse. Through reconnecting with Nia, June realizes that her actions, words, and emotions do have an impact. This discovery hurdles June into a long awaited late-bloomed coming of age. In Spanish, subtitled. 2023; 13 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Sunday, September 24 - From Inside of Here – Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5:00pm. From Inside of Here – Bill Basquin (San Francisco, California). From Inside of Here is a non-fiction, feature-length film that unfolds slowly and is trusting of its audience. The film uses multiple media (16mm film, HD video, infrared stills, inter-titles, and sound recordings) to explore vulnerability and interconnection through the lens of an ecosystem and through the body of the filmmaker. 2023; 85 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Friday, September 29 - The Last Passenger, Pictures Only – Online for 24 Hours.

The Last Passenger – Takashi Horie (Queens, New York). It is in a small coastal town of Tohoku, Northeastern Japan, where a disastrous Tsunami wiped out the entire town and took thousands of people’s lives ten years ago. Years later, a rumor started circulating among Taxi drivers. The rumor is about a ghost that appears in the affected area. When a taxi driver picks up a young girl late at night near the affected area, she asks to take her to the Beach Town. But when they come to the beach town, she vanishes. One night, Endo, a taxi driver, picks up a girl who asks to go to the Beach Town. And when they come to the beach town….it is the beginning of his journey to discover his darkest past and his time to confront it. In Japanese, subtitled. 2023; 55 min.

Pictures Only – Charles Honeywell (Chicago, Illinois). Set in 1950s Bronzeville, Louise Parker is facing eviction from her home. Desperate to keep her independence and status, she is introduced to a lucrative performing opportunity. While attempting to keep this new venture a secret, she simultaneously gains popularity, risking being exposed to and disowned by her mother. After being offered a promotion, she is left with two choices, become the headliner, or allow her family to lose everything. 2023; 21 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Sunday, October 1 - #LookAtMe – Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5:00pm. #LookAtMe – Ken Kwek (Singapore). When teenagers Sean and Ricky are invited to attend church with Sean’s girlfriend, they are treated to an Evangelical rock concert capped by a searing anti-LGBTQ sermon. Sean, a Youtuber, soon gets into trouble for dropping an outrageous video lampooning the megachurch’s pastor. He is widely condemned and prosecuted for flouting Singapore’s strict laws on public expression. As Sean descends into near-madness in prison, his gay twin brother, Ricky, gains prominence as a LGBTQ activist. Both find themselves at the heart of a culture war that spills out from social media into the real world. In English and Malay, subtitled. 2022; 108 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Sunday, October 1 - Best of the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival - Herd, A Spot for Frog & Balaena - Online For 24 Hours.

Herd – Michel Negroponte (Livingston Manor, New York). A herd of shaggy Belted Galloway cattle is delivered to a neighboring pasture in the Catskills and instantly inspires a new film. The filmmaker's growing fascination with the complex forces that propel the animals through one season to the next leads him to reflect on the modern idea of animal personhood. The cows graze and chew their cud, new calves are born, the mothers diligently safeguard their offspring while the bull dominates the herd. Like humans, cows have distinct characteristics: some are giddy, some private, others wise and placid. What are the mysterious forces that drive the cattle? Is their curiosity hardwired into their brains? Are cows sentient? Why do humans believe they have dominion over animals? These questions have been asked for centuries: Aristotle believed that animals are purely instinctual whereas Pythagoras believed that reincarnation moved souls from humans to cows. Equal part rumination, observation and meditation, the film reveals the cow's essence and challenges us to think differently about our fellow living animal beings. 2023; 66 min.

A Spot for Frog – Evan Bode (Syracuse, New York). Locked out of the school art room, a creative nonbinary teen named Frog grapples with anxiety as they seek a new place to eat lunch. Imagination blurs with reality in this hybrid work of live action and animation about an artist's search for identity, belonging, and expression on the margins. 2022; 16 min.

Balaena - Alessia Cecchet (Santa Cruz, California). A whale lies stranded on the beach, and a woman seeks closure through a simulacrum while human interlopers observe, collect, dissect and take selfies. 2022; 8 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Friday, October 6 - Best of the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival - Gutter & Bibi - Online for 24 Hours.

Bibi – Christopher William Beatty (Summit, New Jersey). In this psychological thriller a mother and daughter live in a secluded mansion that is hiding a terrible secret. After a tragic loss, Vivian Ashwood is failing to cope. Struggling to raise her daughter Bibi, she turns to prescription medication and alcohol to soothe her anxieties and depression. Soon, the lines begin to blur between Vivian's routine nightmare and her reality. A strange man begins stalking and tormenting Vivian, causing her to unravel even further. She turns to Bibi, her only confidant, to confirm what is real and what is delusion. Bibi, also devastated by the loss of her sister and upset at Vivian for not protecting them both, only makes Vivian more unsure of the truth. After continuous torment, Vivian searches to find a way to protect herself and Bibi from the stalker by whatever means necessary. 2023; 92 min.

Gutter – Theodore Drusba (Montreal, Canada). Mist. Dust. A bowling alley in the crosshair of a thunderstorm. A pregnant woman, a businessman and a widower find shelter in its midst. Pins are knocked down until gloomy moths kindle an outage. 2022; 22 min.

Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival Preview

Sunday, October 8 - Best of the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival - Black Moon & The Sprayer - Online for 24 Hours.

Black Moon - Tonatiuh García (Mexico City, Mexico). The story of three siblings and the rebellion of a town to defend a river. An unexpected piece of news will make them make decisions that will change their destinies forever because what flows can be as appeasing as it is implacable. In Spanish, subtitled. 2022; 100 min.

The Sprayer – Farnoosh Abedi (Tehran, Iran). In the land occupied with the sprayers army, no one has the right to grow any kind of plants either in public or private. So many of the people and soldiers do not even know how a plant grows or what it looks like, until one day one of the soldiers finds a seed buried deep down in the dust and his curiosity is just the beginning of something extraordinary, something big, something revolutionary. 2022; 9 min.

The New Jersey Film Festival is funded and/or sponsored in part by The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center; The Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies/School of Arts and Sciences; Middlesex County, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts - Funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund; The Rutgers University Office of Summer and Winter Sessions; OVID/Icarus Films,  The Rutgers University American Studies Department; Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program; The Rutgers University Zimmerli Art Museum; The Rutgers University Writer’s House; Pro 8mm; The Rutgers University Office of Disability Services, WRSU; New Jersey Stage; The Home News, The Asbury Park Press; New Brunswick City Center; The Rutgers University Office of Community Affairs; Design Ideas; Advanced Printing; Steven C. Schechter, Esq.; Share and Harris.

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Beyond Their Years: The Incredible Legacies of Herb Carnegie and Buck O’Neil

Thursday, February 29, 2024 @ 11:00am
Grunin Center
1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754
category: film

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Beyond Their Years: The Incredible Legacies of Herb Carnegie and Buck O’Neil

Thursday, February 29, 2024 @ 6:00pm
Grunin Center
1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754
category: film

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World Cinema Series - "Youth Unstoppable"

Wednesday, March 06, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Monmouth University - Pollak Theatre
400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, NJ 07764
category: film

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Garden State Film Festival Returns March 21-24

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) returns for its 22nd year March 21-24, 2024 with screenings in Asbury Park and Cranford, showcasing over 200 films from 14 countries in eight venues. GSFF rolls out the red carpet for a fusion of world premieres, Hollywood luminaries, and interactive industry panels.

Black Box PAC presents An Evening with Paul Schrader

Kean Stage presents ReelAbilities New Jersey

Rider University to host annual film symposium

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