MONTCLAIR, NJ - The rousing sound of applause at the end of Director Rachel Dretzin’s adaptation of author Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree” kicked off the opening night film and party for the Montclair Film Festival at the Wellmont Theater on Thursday, April 26th.

The 800-page book was condensed into a documentary that explores the many ways families deal with ‘anomalies’ in their children. The range of emotions depicted ran from love to resilience, compassion to frustration, and at times despair.

Evelyn Colbert said, “It’s such an exciting night and that was such a great film, I think, for this town - [a film] of joy and happiness and love.”

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One of the stories in the documentary starred Jason, born with down syndrome, now in his forties, who lives with two friends. His parents championed him through life and his mother continues to find ways to support, encourage and foster his independence.  All three were walking through the Wellmont and posed for the camera as Jason said joyfully, “We are the Three Musketeers.”

Colbert had not yet met them when she spoke to TAPinto Montclair, but was looking forward to meeting the musketeers and Jason’s mother. She said, “I want to meet the mother, she is amazing! She is so good with him...all the old clips they showed.”

Colbert harkened back to Life Animated who came to a MFF screening a couple of years back, drawing some parallels between the two films.

Guests enjoyed food and open bar from several sponsors such as The Little Daisy Bake Shop, Events by Joni, New Jersey Beer Co., Ironbound Hard Cider, and wine and spirits from Opici Wines, Market Street Spirits, and The Wine Guys.

Groups of people stood discussing the movie and many found it deeply relatable. Case in point, Councilman at large Bob Russo shared that he too had an elderly family member with autism who lives in a group home.

Film enthusiasts are not the only ones coming to Montclair. The festival, which has grown substantially over the years, goes through May 6th and welcomes the likes of Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke and Rachel Weisz.