It's That Time Again: The 2017 Montclair Film Festival is Back!

With over 150 films and events this year, the Montclair Film Festival is the place to be. This year the festival takes place from April 29-May 7. Below, I have created a list of a few films I think you should see but keep in mind, I am just scratching the surface.

As a second year intern at the festival, I can speak from firsthand experience that the jovial vibe and warmth of the festival, festival volunteers, and passionate filmmakers is contagious. Here are some films I hope you make time to see before you get overwhelmed with studying for finals. (Or at least some films that will spark your curiosity and make you wonder what other films the festival has screening for your viewing pleasure!)

For The Hopeless Romantics

Band Aid

When: Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Wellmont Theater

Synopsis: A married couple that cannot stop bickering over the little things, create a band and write lyrics that explore their marital problems.

Familiar Face/Appearances: Fred Armisen from Portlandia and Saturday Night Live. Director Zoe Lister-Jones will be present for a Q&A.

 

The Transfiguration

When: Thursday, May 4 at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 5:45 p.m.

Where: Cinema505 (505 Bloomfield Ave.)

Synopsis: This thriller takes place in NYC and follows a young teen obsessed with vampire lore. He falls for a girl who is equally awkward and she tests his obsession as he begins to “blur the line between reality and fantasy” while living with the violence of public housing.

 

For Animal Lovers

Do Donkeys Act?

When: Thursday, May 4 at 8:45 p.m. and Friday, May 5 at 7:15 p.m.

Where: Clairidge Cinema and Cinema505

Synopsis: The content of this documentary is completely made up of footage shot on farms that save animals from overwork and abuse. This “film is a conversation between human curiosity and the experience of the animals.”

 

Trophy

When: Saturday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Bellevue Cinema

Synopsis: This documentary examines illegal poaching, ivory trade, wildlife hunting, and breeding in Africa and the United States while revealing a delicate ecosystem that depends on how humans interact with their environment.

 

For Journalists/Storytellers

Letters From Baghdad

When: Tuesday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Cinema505

Synopsis: This documentary chronicles the life of Gertrude Bell, a British spy and explorer who voyaged into the Arabian Desert on behalf of the British Empire and was almost erased from history. She was more influential than her colleague Laurence of Arabia and helped created the modern state of Iran after WWI.

Familiar Faces/Appearances: Directors Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl will be present for a Q&A.

 

City of Ghosts

When: Friday, May 5 at 6:45 p.m. and Saturday, May 6 at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Bellevue Cinema

Synopsis: This documentary chronicles a group of anonymous journalists who came together before the Syrian Civil War but fled when ISIS took over their town in 2014.

Familiar Face/Appearances: Director will be present for a Matthew Heineman Q&A.

 

For Social Justice Activists

The Montclair Film Festival is teaming up with the American Black Film Festival to bring social justice films and filmmakers to the limelight this season. Here are some documentaries that explore activists that fought for gay rights, farm workers’ rights, and trans rights.

 

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

When: Friday, May 5 at 9:15 p.m. and Saturday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m.

Where: Bellevue and Clairidge Cinemas

Synopsis: This documentary chronicles the life of journalist and novelist Armistead Maupin who came from the conservative South and became a gay-rights pioneer while convincing others through his novels to “find their own truth.”

 

Dolores

When: Saturday, April 29 at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m.

Where: Bellevue and Clairidge Cinemas

Synopsis: This documentary chronicles the life of Dolores Huerta, cofounder of the United Farmers Union. She faced gender discrimination and paved the way for female activists. Featuring interviews with Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton and Luis Valdez.

Familiar Face/Appearances: Dolores Huerta will attend on April 29.

 

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

When: Thursday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 6:45 p.m.

Where: Cinema505 and Clairidge Cinemas

Synopsis: This film documents the beginning of the transgender movement. Sylvia, “the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement,” and Marsha, “the Bodhisattva of Christopher Street” formed the first transgender rights organization and marched in the civil rights march on behalf of “gender non-conforming” people.

 

For Sci-Fi Lovers

Infinity Baby

When: Sunday, April 30 at 5:15 p.m.

Where: Bellevue Cinema

Synopsis: A comedy in a world where anyone can buy a newborn baby that can never grow beyond the early stages of childhood. A door-to-door company that sells babies is “racing to make a profit.” This film also shows how relationships are affected by the baby selling market.

Familiar Faces: Kieran Culkin from Season 2 of Fargo, Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation, Martin Starr from Freaks and Geeks and Superbad, Kevin Corrigan from Pineapple Express and The Get Down, Megan Mullally from Will and Grace and Parks and Recreation, Noel Wells from Master of None, Stephen Root from Get Out and Gravity Falls

 

Asian American Films

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

When: Saturday, May 6 at 11:45 a.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 4:15 p.m.

Where: Bellevue Cinemas and Clairidge Cinemas

Synopsis: “This documentary chronicles the Sung family, Chinese immigrant family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”

Familiar Face/Appearances: Director Steve James will be there for a Q&A.

 

Gook

When: Wednesday, May 3 at 8:45 p.m. and Friday, May 5 at 9:00 p.m.

Where: Clairidge Cinema

Synopsis: A dramedy about the unlikely friendship between two Korean-American brothers and an 11-year-old African-American girl during the hours that followed the Rodney King verdict.

Familiar Face/Appearances: Director and star Justin Chon, from Just Jordan and 21 and Over, will be present for a Q&A.

 

For Something Light

The Cinema Travelers

When: Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. and Monday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Cinema505 and Clairidge Cinema

Synopsis: In India, a circuit of traveling cinephiles bring films to villages without movie theaters. As the reels of film disintegrate, the traveling cinemas must fight harder and upgrade to digital film while finding the importance and delightfulness their efforts bring to audiences.

 

For Grace

When: Monday, May 1 at 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 2 at 9:15 p.m., and Thursday, May 4 at 11:30 a.m.

Where: Bellevue and Clairidge Cinemas

Synopsis: A man has never desired to search for his biological parents until he becomes a father himself.

Familiar Face/Appearances: Director Sebastian Armesto and producer Andrew Keatley will be present for a Q&A.

 

For an Event

Bill Nye: Science Guy

When: Saturday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m.

Where: The Wellmont Theater

Synopsis: A portrait of a beloved childhood icon featuring what’s next for the scientist in the Trump era.

Familiar Face: There will be a post-screening conversation with Stephen Colbert and Bill Nye

 

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