(RED BANK, NJ) -- Count Basie Center for the Arts kicks off its recognition of Black History Month on Saturday, February 4 with its free film series at Basie Center Cinemas, 36 White Street in downtown Red Bank. A Journal For Jordan, the 2021 film starring Michael B. Jordan, will be shown at 4:30pm with a post-screening talkback with Pulitzer Prize-winning Dana Canedy, whose memoir provides the story behind the Denzel Washington-directed film. Canedy’s fiancé, First Sgt. Charles Monroe King, was killed in Iraq in 2006, but not before penning a series of letters to their unborn son, which are included throughout the memoir.
Voiceless, a featured short from director Cindy Di Xin, tells the story of an international high school girl who finds herself trapped in a nightmare that she has never experienced before involving inappropriate attention from one of her teachers. Cindy made this short in Pasadena, California, but it is presented in Chinese and English with subtitles. Despite being a short, this is a measured, layered, and complex piece of art.
First Girl, written and directed by Ellie Konn, yields an unexpected shocking twist on a first time romance flick. The film follows the character of Nadia, a shy teenager exploring her sexuality, as she develops a crush on a girl in her class, Abby. Viewers originally witness her glancing at Abby, frozen with admiration, a state that many can resonate with. Though at first Nadia seems afraid to express her feelings, fate works in her favor as the two are paired together for a school project on female authors. As the girls exchange phone numbers in an awkwardly adorable short conversation, viewers can relate to Nadia’s nervous attitude which mirrors the nerve-wracking emotions associated with having a crush.
If you knew you were going to die and had the choice between a gradual but painful death or a death which you get to plan out to a tee--- deciding the exact date/time of your death, the place, and who you’ll be surrounded with in your final moments--- which would you choose? Jack Tuller chose the latter.
Bean and the Babysitter directed by Jason Michael Roberts examines what occurs as opposing ways of life are forced to come together in grave situations. The film begins with babysitter Pat arriving at the farm to take care of Bean. As the parents quickly take off, the isolating and quiet nature of the farmhouse becomes evident to Pat, who is accustomed to city-life as a student. Bean, a young boy obsessed with everything western, longs to have a partner to play sheriff with but Pat denies his wishes given that she is too busy studying anatomy for her upcoming final. As night passes, Pat awakes to the realization that Bean’s parents have not yet returned - and will not return. This revelation procures different results from Bean and Pat, as they must now figure out how to survive on their own.
The Button Game is a psychological drama that shows a brutal display of life in isolation. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down for an interview session with the director of The Button Game, Drake Woodall, to ask him questions about his new film.
What, at first glance, may seem like a senior citizen’s decorative hat collection try-on haul video, is actually so much more. Pratt in the Hat (2021), directed by Susan Hillary, is a beautiful, 14-minute documentary about the inspiring, service-oriented life of Dr. Frances Pratt (otherwise known as Dr. Hat, Hat Frat, and the Pratt in the Hat), who is as poised and charming as her 100+ flowered, feathered, lacy, sequin-covered, rhinestone-covered hats that come in every color. Dr. Pratt is the President of Nyack’s chapter of the NAACP and she is the first black, head nurse of the Nyack Hospital Emergency Room. In this documentary, Dr. Pratt tells us about the importance of solidarity, education, voting rights, and, subliminally, fashion as we admire lovely, still photographs (taken by Susan Hillary, Dorice Arden, and Joe Zakko) of Dr. Pratt in her hats and matching outfits.
Marjorie Eliot's Parlor Entertainment Harlem, directed and produced by John Decker, perfectly contextualizes, and captures the magic of Marjorie Eliot and the free theatre and jazz shows she has been putting on in the small, white living room of her Harlem apartment every Sunday for the last 30 years.
Here below is the Opening Weekend Schedule for the 2023 New Jersey Film Festival. The Festival will be presented online as well as have in-person screenings at Rutgers University. All the films will be available virtually via Video on Demand for 24 hours on their show date. 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 5PM or 7PM on their show date. General Admission Ticket=$15 Per Program; Festival All Access Pass=$100; In-Person Only Student Ticket=$10 Per Program.
Ocean City Monster Building directed by Chris Lane examines the question: How much can a position of power control what remains hidden behind the scenes - even after one dies?