Audiences and artists traveled from all regions of the globe to attend the 2nd Annual Monmouth Film Festival (MFF) in August, at Red Bank’s Two River Theater. The weekend was packed filled with excited and passionate film lovers and filmmakers nearly tripling last year’s attendance to the inaugural festival.
The 2nd Annual Festival began with an energetic weekend kick off – the 2017 Filmmaker Networking Event. The gourmet catered event consisted of local favorites and regional delights, while the eclectic atmosphere filled with a steady stream of artists, press, and filmmakers indulged in the evening. The annual Red Carpet walk began, honoring this year’s featured filmmakers, transforming Red Bank into a Hollywood Premiere! The buzz of excitement spread as cameras flashed and previews of the weekend’s quality films screened in the backdrop. Industry members mingled, answering questions and talking shop – whether the topic was talent management, directing, writing, acting, producing, etc. – all left with a renewed sense of confidence and optimism. Featured Industry giants present at the event included the New York Film Academy, Backstage, The NJ Motion Picture Commission, JMR Rentals, and FACES.
The festival hosted screenings of 39 short films, five feature films, and four film trailers. The films were selected from local, national, and global communities – including Poland, South Korea, Italy, and more! Award-winning feature films included the soon to be wide released “Lemon” – directed by Janicza Bravo starring Brett Gelman, Michael Cera, Judy Greer and Nia Long; “Window Horses” directed by Ann Marie Fleming featuring Sandra Oh and Ellen Page; and “The Blood is at the Doorstep” directed by Erik Ljung, a documentary detailing the chronological events surrounding the shooting of Dontre Hamilton by a Milwaukee Police Officer. Also featured was the New Jersey Festival Premiere of “Shooting Clerks”, the biographical drama detailing how Kevin Smith bankrolled his $27,000 first film with maxed-out credit cards and garnered career-making critical attention at the Sundance Film Festival when Clerks debuted there in 1994. The screening was accompanied by an exclusive Q&A featuring special guests, including Robert Hawk and Brian O’Halloran.
Monmouth Film Festival’s mission as a non-profit organization is to promote and connect independent filmmakers of all levels and industry professionals involved in all areas of the film industry, as well as give the filmmakers and their work the respect and high-quality screening atmosphere they rightly deserve. Filmmakers traveled from Seattle, California, Florida, and Europe, and were not disappointed as the festival ensured a first class event – a stand out amongst most festivals and equal to the major events, local and abroad.
The success and excitement was a cumulative overview of the Festival’s schedule – taking into account the Networking Event, Exclusive MFF Filmmaker-VIP Lounge, and screening in one state-of-the-art venue – filmmakers had taken advantage of the multitude of opportunities to interact with, not only each other but the esteemed guests and professionals who made up the Industry Panel.
The 90-minute Industry Film Panel, took place on August 12th on the Two River main-stage, was comprised of moderator Bryan DeNovellis (nine time Emmy nominated Anchorman), David Schoner (NJ Film Commission), Taimak (The Last Dragon), John R. Green (Executive Producer, ABC), Thomas Crowell (Entertainment Lawyer/Author), Jenna Ricker (Producer/Director, The American Side), Jeremy Profe (Director/Writer, The Lennon Report), and Jen Fineran (Film Editor/Documentarian). The discussion featured questions – from a near capacity audience of not only eager and passionate artists but moviegoers seeking industry insight. The questions ranged from how to break into the industry and entertainment laws, to editing and how to distribute your film or series.
The 2nd Annual Monmouth Film Festival concluded with the 2017 Awards Ceremony, honoring the best films in multiple categories. Special speakers and award presenters included Two River Times esteemed writer and film critic, Joan Ellis, as well as the honorable Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna – who gave an inspiring speech supporting the festival and the arts in Red Bank. Awarded filmmakers won not only trophies, but prizes from iPitchTV, InkTip, JMR Rentals, and Studio Binder – which all help get their projects off the ground and onto the next stage of production.
“Lemon” – Best Feature Narrative, Directed by Janicza Bravo
“The Blood Is At The Doorstep” – Best Documentary, Directed by Erik Ljung
“The Tramcar Girl” – Best New Jersey film, Directed by Gerard Zarra, Alex Tymchak, Daniel Lewinstein
“Pickup” – Best Short Narrative, Directed by Jeremiah Kipp
“Before Christmas” – Best Student Film, Directed by Chuyao He
“Best Trailer” – Best Trailer, Directed by Derek McNeill
“Window Horses” – Best Foreign Feature, Directed by Ann Marie Fleming
“Mother” – Best Foreign Short, Directed by Piotrek Golebiowski
“The Bunny Hole” – Best Web Series, Ken Davenport
“Greenlit” – Best TV Pilot, Directed by Anthony Bradford
“The Silent Gate” – Best Screenplay, Directed by Shirley King
“Shooting Clerks” – Audience Choice Feature, Directed by Christopher Downie; “Addle Strife” – Audience Choice Short, Directed by Karl Ryan Erikson
“Tiny Words” – Audience Choice Student Film, Directed by Alexa Werrlein.
*Photo Credit: Daniel Buckley