Arts & Entertainment

SOMA Film Festival Returns for Second Successful Year

L to R: Thomas Rondinella, Associate Dean and Professor at Seton Hall University, Alex Markman and Jake Fuller Co-Directors "Colby," and Matt Smollon, Director and Founder of the SOMA Film Festival Credits: Fred Smith
Filmmaker Q & A following "Colby" Credits: Fred Smith
Matt Smollon and Mary E Ciccarelli, SOMA Film Festival intern Credits: Fred Smith

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The second annual SOMA Film Festival was held at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) from Thursday, March 9, through Sunday, March 12.

The SOMA Film Festival, which was first created in 2016, continued in its second year to “showcase new, entertaining and innovative films from local, student, domestic and international filmmakers” and to provide “independent short, and feature documentary and narrative films,” according to the festival’s official website.

Matt Smollon, the founder and director of the SOMA Film Festival and veteran film and television writer, said that his purpose when creating the film festival was to bring more independent films to the South Orange and Maplewood area.

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As a long time cinema lover and a fan of directors Scorsese and Fellini, Smollon said that such independent filmmaking is hard to see in this region.  "There is an eagerness and demand for quality independent film in our community and beyond," stated Smollon.

In comparison to the first annual SOMA Film Festival, Smollon commented that this year was bigger with more attendees and more programming. He shared that his personal favorite films shown at the festival included: “Fire at Sea,” a Sicilian documentary that focused on the migrants’ Mediterranean crossing during the European migrant crisis; “Fraud,” a narrative short feature centered on a modern American family running from their past; “Limbo,” a Greek narrative short about a young boy who is an outsider; and “Head Space” a short by a USC graduate that is about a single mother concerned with her son’s inability to cope. A few of his favorites from the 2016 festival included “Broke” and “Video.”

Films are chosen to be featured in the SOMA film festival based on feedback from a panel of judges, who view each film and then use a rating scale from one to five. The higher the number, the greater the chances are that the film will be selected for the film festival, said Smollon.

This year’s film festival, in addition to showing several films and shorts, featured an opening night party on Thursday, March 9, director Q & A’s, a local filmmakers program, a kids & family program at the Maplewood movie theater, and behind-the-scene filmmaker events, such as a private industry “meet & greet.”

Smollon said that although they had to overcome a few obstacles, “ the film festival was still an overall success.”

TAPinto SOMA is a media sponsor of the SOMA Film Festival.

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