The festival, held for the first time this year, featured the efforts of filmmakers who live and work in Hudson County. With grant funding from the state of New Jersey, the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs organized the event. Plans are already taking shape for the second annual festival next winter, according to the agency's administrator William La Rosa.
In the meantime, La Rosa says, his office is arranging a showcase of this year's festival films at the Hudson County Courthouse. Beginning in September, a video monitor located on the ground level of the courthouse will show a continuous loop of films and videos from the festival.
Among the pieces to be shown at the museum this weekend are the following films and videos.
Jersey City filmmaker Pedro Carvajal is winning praise nationwide for POPaganda: The Art & Subversion of Ron English. Carvajal's documentary short film celebrates the "billboard-liberation antics" of English, a Jersey City artist who has emerged as a leader in the "subvertising" movement. Carvajal followed English as he hit the streets to turn corporate advertising messages on their head. For example, English posted a faux McDonald's billboard with the tagline "Phat Food."
In April, POPaganda was shown in tandem with the new documentary Super Size Me - about one man's misadventures with a McDonald's-only diet - at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Carvajal received a standing ovation after one of the sold-out showings.
Last week, Carvajal was honored with the Media That Matters Film Festival Media Literacy Award.
When Werner Bargsten began filming Sparks in 1998, he couldn't have anticipated how its images of the World Trade Center would be received in the world after September 11, 2001. Sparks is a silent love story that unfolds with the Twin Towers in the background. When things heat up, firefighters arrive to save the day.
The producers call Sparks "A Vertical Love Story about Lust and Outdoor Cooking," but this offbeat comedy short is now colored by viewers' memories of 9/11. Bargsten says he didn't watch the film for six months after the disaster.
"It was a very sensitive time," Bargsten says.
The Jersey City filmmaker - whose company, Sheep Noir Films, is located at 111 First St. - captured footage of the World Trade Center from some friends' rooftop in Paulus Hook.
Sparks has been featured in about 20 film festivals across the nation and around the world. It took home honors from the Black Maria Film Festival, the French/American Film Workshop in Avignon, and a German festival in Mannheim-Heidelberg.
If you've spent much time in Hoboken, you'll recognize some urban grit in this student film by Joe Lewis Ortiz. Urban Ruins was Ortiz's first film, made for his film class at New Jersey City University. Ortiz shot the piece in black and white with a 16-millimeter camera.
The short, silent film is a meditation on the nature of urban decay, made while Ortiz lived in Hoboken. (He has since moved to Jersey City.) Ortiz envisioned Urban Ruins as a multi-layered metaphor that also comments on the inevitable decay of work on film. He manipulated the film, artificially aging the later portions to suggest decay in the medium itself, mirroring the images of urban ruin.
Ortiz, now a graduate of NJCU, was honored with the Dr. Joseph Drew award for academic excellence and achievement in film and video production.
Hudson County Film & Video Festival
POPaganda: The Art & Subversion of Ron English by Pedro Carvajal
Sparks by Werner Bargsten
Urban Ruins by Joe Lewis Ortiz
Rumbo a la Rumba by Juan Carlos Rojas
Where: Hoboken Historical Museum
1301 Hudson St.
When: Sunday, May 30, 4-6:30 p.m.
Other info: Suggested donation is $5.
Reservations are recommended. Call (201) 656-2240, option 2.
FILM CLIPS - Top: Firefighters save the day in the offbeat comedy short Sparks, made by Jersey City director Werner Bargsten. Center: To make POPaganda, Jersey City filmmaker Pedro Carvajal followed local artist Ron English as he posted billboards that satirize corporate advertising messages. This sign puts a twist on the Apple Computers slogan "Think Different," pairing it with a disturbing photo of Charles Manson. Bottom: Setting up a shot for the independent film Sparks.