MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Maplewood Theaters will welcome the inaugural “Northeast Film Festival” to town on Friday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 15, with screenings of 26 films and an awards ceremony on Sunday night.
The festival will include a wide variety of independently produced feature films and shorts, and will include both narrative films and documentaries.
Festival Directors Larry Rosen ad Tamara Thelander are both filmmakers in their own rights and felt that New Jersey could benefit from a new indie festival.
“We are so pleased with the quality of the films,” said Thelander. “We have such a great lineup, especially for a first-time festival.”
The duo received more than 300 applicants for the festival, watched every one of them and chose fewer than 10 percent of them for inclusion.
The awards to be given out at the conclusion of the festival include Best Feature, Best Short, Best Documentary and of course, awards for direction, screenwriting and acting.
At a press event held at the theater on Tuesday, two of the festival’s filmmakers and two acting nominees were on hand to discuss their work.
Sam Borowski, who produced ad directed the short film, “Maniac,” was thrilled with the choice of venue for the Festival.
“I have been coming to the Maplewood Theaters for years,” Borowski said. “It’s a beautiful old-fashioned theater and perfect for an event like this,”
Borowski has two Shorts in the Festival: “Maniac,” the story of a man pushed over the edge by tragedy starring Bill Sorvino, the nephew of Paul Sorvino; and “Pollination,” a seven-minute film starring Federico Castelluccio, best known for playing Furio on The Sopranos.
Sorvino said he has worked with Borowski on a few different films.
“As soon as I read the script for Maniac, I called Sam and told him I absolutely had to play the lead,” Sorvino said.
The Opening Night feature film will be “Surviving Family,” written and produced by Mara Lesemann. It is the story of a woman who returns home to her estranged family after two years, with her fiancé in tow and plans to marry in five days. She comes to learn some unexpected truths about her family. Lesemann credits her whole team for the success of the film, which has won numerous awards at festivals around the country and will soon be distributed by Red Box.
“Sarah Wilson, our lead actress is amazing,” Lesemann said. “And so is Billy Magnussen, who plays her fiancé.”
Actress Samantha Tuffarelli is nominated for Best Actress in a short film for her work in “No, You Ain’t Alright.”
“It’s a lighthearted homage to the film 'Goodfellas',” Tuffarelli said. “I was involved in forming the concept for the film along with the director, so it is really exciting to see the finished product.”
The festival has a distinctly Garden State slant, with the Directors and many of the participants and nominees hailing from New Jersey.
The Maplewood Theater is located at 155 Maplewood Ave. Tickets are on sale for $12 for film screenings and $100 for an All-Access Pass, which includes admission for all the films, the awards ceremony, and after-parties. The full schedule may be found here: http://www.nefilmfestival.com/Schedule.html