Film festivals are tricky — there is a wealth of art and intrigue and drama and education and investigation and star power, but there is also a schedule to follow. And unless you have the luxury to take a vacation from Life and Family and Work, it’s difficult to see everything you want to see! Happily, the Montclair Film Festival has made it easier to choose by screening many films twice and providing an easy to navigate grid of screening times and locations.
And in case the comprehensive list from Baristanet writers or film suggestions from various celebrities-to-me locals isn’t helpful enough, I’m happy to offer my highly unofficial sway. I mean, I’ve already shared this MUST SEE international but made-in-Montclair film: When Two Worlds Collide. So here are a few more.
FRIDAY: The Opening Night Film LIFE, ANIMATED is a special event that will move and inspire the audience. Wonderfully appropriate as an opening film, its theme centers on the human need for stories as a part of a fulfilled life. Following the film, Stephen Colbert will moderate a Q&A with Director Roger Ross Williams, film subjects Owen, Walt, Cornelia, and Ron Suskind, and special guest Gilbert Gottfried.
Saturday: The wonderful JOE’S VIOLIN (also with a Montclair connection) is great for the whole family. In just 24 minutes, it connects a 91-year old Holocaust survivor with a 12-year old via music. This special screening will feature a musical performance and extended Q&A with the filmmakers and subjects. A true treat for anyone touched by music.
Saturday and Sunday: For those interested in social justice films, the Montclair Film Festival has several on offer. First, DO NOT RESIST investigates the militarization of the police and how it affects the very communities who need protection. THE WRONG LIGHT pursues a story of a supposed refuge for trafficked girls in Thailand, but the documentary team doesn’t find the answers it expects. Both films have two screenings.
Monday: ALIVE & KICKING: THE SOCCER GRANNIES OF SOUTH AFRICA. Do I really need to give you anything more than the title? This is a short film, and is screening as part of the Student Shorts section.
Tuesday: THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE interweaves the stories of four struggling Iraq War veterans as they seek to come to terms with the health implications of their military service and the systemic neglect in the care US Veterans receive.
Wednesday: AUDRIE & DAISY gives voice to two sexual assault victims and their families while examining the toxic relationship between sexual assault and social media. Unfortunately, this topic is all too relevant and current. A must-see for parents and teens.
Thursday: I’m usually drawn to documentaries, but HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is definitely on my MUST SEE list. With heartwarming drama and high tension, this film is appropriate for the whole family.
Friday: This is tough. Friday is basically chock full of good stuff. But if I had to choose just one, it’d have to be TOWER and PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW. (Yes, I know that’s two.) TOWER reveals the tense, untold stories of the witnesses, heroes, and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting. Unfortunately, it’s all too current. PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (available as part of a House Party combo pack as well) reminds us that dreams really can come true, and that talent and kismet still meet!
Saturday: Again, loads of The Good. Also lots of chances to see films you may have missed earlier. But I have to strongly suggest SLASH, because who doesn’t want to relive awkward nerdy teenage years in a dark theater? Also: Cosplay. Second screening on Sunday.
Sunday: Slow down for Mother’s Day with THE SEER. It explores the distance between the reality of modern, corporate farming and family farming as a vanishing way of life.
There you have it! An incomplete, imperfect list of what to see at the 2016 Montclair Film Festival. Which films are YOU intent on seeing?