Independent filmmakers, directors, actors, actresses and fans will converge on Maplewood Theater in September for the Northeast Film Festival featuring “some of the best films on the circuit,” according to Festival Director Larry Rosen.
The Festival will take place at the theater, located at 155 Maplewood Ave., from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15, culminating with the awards that night.
“It's a beautiful theater, I loved the look and the feel of the town,” said Rosen. “When we were scouting possible locations I drove up and looked at the building and I just knew this was it.”
There were more than 300 submissions for the festival, said Rosen, who viewed every single submission with Festival Co-director Tamara Thelander. The pair, along with screeners, painstakingly whittled the list down to just 26 films.
“Our exact rules was to be as critical and harsh as possible,” said Rosen. “We rejected everything unless it was too good to be rejected and we still ended up with 50 really quality films and had to narrow it down from there.”
“In our book everyone is already a winner because the quality is so great,” said Thelander.
The Opening-Night Feature will be “Surviving Family,” which was written and produced by Mara Lesemann of Jersey City. The film, which is up for Best Feature, has won 16 awards and received 30 nominations. This will be the film's last festival and will be available on DVD and Redbox this fall, said Lesemann.
In the running for Best Short is a film called “Maniac,” directed and produced by Sam Borowski, starring Bill Sorvino. Sorvino is the nephew of actor Paul Sorvino and cousin of Academy-Award Winner Mira Sorvino.
“Maniac was my most emotionally draining role,” said Sorvino, who plays a disgruntled, disturbed citizen who takes the law into his own hands after a tragedy pushes him over the edge, according to imdb.com.
“I've been coming here for a few years,” said Borowski. “To have a short run in this theater is a dream come true.”
Director Brett Molé has a film, “AliveAndKickn: The Documentary,” which is up for Best Documentary. It follows David Dubin, colon cancer survivor who starts a soccer charity. It started as a short video and turned into a much larger project, he said.
“It's great and kind of unexpected,” said Molé of his nomination.
Samantha Tuffarelli has been acting since she was just two years old and is up for her first nomination under Best Actress in a short film. Tuffarelli plays a waitress in the light-hearted film “No, You Ain't Alright.”
“It is very exciting and something I have always hoped for,” she said. “It's cool to see the finished film because it shows all your hard work.”
Maplewood Theaters General Manager Susan Rinaldi has always wanted to hold a film festival at the theater, she said.
“The theater is the perfect venue for the festival because it is recently renovated and we are now completely digital,” she said, adding that she is a big fan of independent films. “We're excited to be able to show so many films in such a short amount of time.”
Being completely digital means no more film reels or projector noise, things that Rinaldi will miss, “but the picture and sound quality are amazing,” she added.
Tickets are on sale for $12 for each film screening or $100 for an All Access Pass, which includes admission for all films screening, awards ceremony, and after parties.