Local Film Festival Features Allen Barra, Boris Gavrilovic, Classic Movies

The West Orange Film Festival kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. with Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic film noir "Chinatown"

The 8th Annual Classic West Orange Film Festival kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. with Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic film noir "Chinatown," starring Jack Nicholson. The Star Ledger’s Stephen Whitty will host the post-screening film chat.

The eight-week Sunday film series runs through Feb. 24. All shows are at the AMC Theatre at the Essex Green Shopping Center on Prospect Avenue in West Orange.

“They will be played on a big screen, the way these films were meant to be seen,” said Ken Mandel, the festival’s organizer and a West Orange filmmaker.

Mandel said films are chosen with input from audiences and film experts.

“The line-up is very eclectic, with some old favorites and some relative unknowns,” he said.

Here's the rest of the roster: 1/13: "Children of Paradise" (1945) directed by Marcel Carne; 1/20: "Batman" (1989) Tim Burton, with Executive producer of all seven Batman films, Michael Uslan; 1/27: “Singing in the Rain” (1952) Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen; 2/3: “Amarcord” (1973) Federico Fellini; 2/17: “The African Queen” (1951) John Huston; 2/24: “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975) Sidney Lumet.

Feb. 10 will be devoted to the Black Maria Film Festival, a screening of award-winning short films. For more information, visit www.blackmariafilmfestival.org.

Each film is introduced by a film scholar or critic who leads a post screening discussion. In addition to Whitty, they include Allen Barra (a South Orange writer on cultural issues), Gerard Amsellem (who teaches a film course at Livingston High School) and Boris Gavrilovic (who teaches animation at Columbia High School)

There will be a special guest: Batman Executive Producer Michael Uslan, who lives in Essex County.

The festival began under the umbrella of the West Orange Film Society, which is part of the West Orange Arts Council.

“It has become a cultural destination,” said Mandel. “We have lots of regulars who come back every year and see every film.”

For more details about the films, e-mail: wofilmsociety@aol.com.

All movies start at 2 p.m. and the price of a ticket for each film is $10; $7.50 for members of West Orange Arts Council. Get tickets from www.fandango.com, and make sure to order ahead.


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