Any self-respecting all-access pass carrying film buff knows that the next Sundance Film Festival isn’t until January. Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival is in April. Cannes doesn’t roll around until May. And it’s nine months until the 2012 Human Rights Watch Film Fest.
So the best city to see great independent film all in one place this fall may be Jersey City. That’s right – Jersey City.
Next month, from Oct. 13 through 16, JC will host the inaugural Golden Door International Film Festival, four days packed with 40 independent films from veteran and emerging filmmakers. Like most film festivals, Golden Door will showcase feature-length movies and film shorts that lack major distribution and thus aren’t likely to be shown at the Cineplex in the local mall. But what these film lack in major distribution and exposure they typically make up for in their ability to explore themes rarely touched by Hollywood blockbusters.
The Sorvino family is at the helm.
The festival borrows its name from the poem etched into the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and was inspired by Sorvino’s immigrant grandfather.
“My grandfather came to this country from Sicily and he was sort of that classic, hard-working immigrant who came here for a better life,” Sorvino explained. “The Statue of Liberty – which has that line, ‘I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door,’ – was the gateway to the United States, it’s also the gateway to Jersey City…To me, film has this great capacity to shed light on other cultures and other people’s experiences. Film is also a kind of gateway in that regard.”
The Hudson Reporter is a cosponsor of the Golden Door International Film Festival, along with Provident Bank and Panepinto Properties.
Using Sorvino’s metaphor, through the festival’s 40 films audiences will have the opportunity to enter a world of characters who fall in love, face economic hurdles, and start illegal business ventures.
In the movie “Fatakra” directed by Soham Mehta, Naveen, the protagonist, comes to the United States for a better life only to be met with a recession and historic economic downturn. His financial pressures are exacerbated when his wife and son emigrate from India and join him.
Nyle Cavazos Garcia’s film “The Long Road” centers on the life of Trent Davis, a recently released ex-offender with a child to support and raise. The movie follows his struggle to find an honest job after being incarcerated.
“Let the Block Know,” a film by Lai-San Ho and Lynne Koester, follows the story of two brothers who are disinherited by their wealthy father and who must devise clever ways to earn money to stave off the foreclosure of their mother’s home.
The festival offers lighter fare, too, including “Beatboxing – The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop” by Klaus Schneyder and “Sixty in 60,” a collection of 60 one-minute short films from a range of different film genres.
“I wanted the festival to showcase elite films without being elitist,” said Sorvino, himself an actor and director and the nephew of acclaimed actor Paul Sorvino. “I wanted this to be a filmmaker’s film festival. But I don’t want that to imply that people who aren’t in film are going to be treated like they’re second class.”
In keeping with that proletarian perspective, Sorvino said audience members will have access to the opening and closing night parties, and other star-studded social gatherings connected to the festival.
Seminars, celebs, and Sorvino
But that doesn’t mean the festival will lack the usual staples found at other film fests.
There will be special appearances by Jersey City native and Academy Award winner Leon Gast (“When We Were Kings”), Mira Sorvino, and members of “The Sopranos” cast.
Paul Sorvino – star of the 1972 Broadway production of “That Championship Season” and the movies “Goodfellas,” “Reds,” and “Nixon” – will receive a lifetime achievement award. A trained opera singer who attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Sorvino has appeared in more than 150 films.
Independent filmmaker and Jersey City resident John Trigonis (“Cerise,” “Cog”) and Slava Rubin, founder of IndieGoGo, will present the Crowdfunding seminar. Together, Trigonis and Rubin will offer useful information and advice on how independent filmmakers can raise money for their projects.
Mary Pat Kelly, author of “Martin Scorsese: The First Decade” and “Martin Scorsese: A Journey,” will give a talk on the seminal director’s life and work. Kelly, who has interviewed Scorsese and the actors and tech crewmembers who have worked with him, will recount Scorsese’s directorial style and key decisions that made such films as “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” the classics that they are.
A panel of judges will also award various honors to the festival’s top films.
The full festival program will be available online beginning this week at http://goldendoorfilmfestival.org.
Films will be shown at a variety of Jersey City venues, including LITM, Art House Productions, Bar Majestic, and the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre. The seminars will be held in the rotunda at City Hall.
Tickets for the festival can be purchased online beginning this week through www.BrownPaperTickets.com. Tickets for individual programs are $11.34, which includes the BrownPaperTickets.com fee. There’s also an all-access festival pass available for $156.24, including the service fee.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.