Del Vecchio moved his New Jersey International Film and Screenplay Festival from Hackensack to Hoboken at the request of local police captain and movie producer Anthony Falco Sr.
According to Del Vecchio, who is also an attorney and author who owns his own production company, the Hoboken International Film Festival will be the biggest film festival in the state of New Jersey.
"I consider Hoboken to be one of the cultural capitals of the United States," said Del Vecchio. "[Hoboken] is nationally known. People in the film industry are excited about it, they talk about it. We'll be in the top one percent [of film festivals] in Hoboken."
Before deciding on Hoboken, Del Vecchio was approached by several other municipalities, including Newark and Atlantic City, to move the festival to their location, but according to Del Vecchio, the choice was easy.
The festival will include a 10-member celebrity jury consisting of Academy and Emmy Award winning performers and production staff.
"To have such an important film event in our wonderful city is just another addition to our cultural offerings," said Mayor David Roberts. "We have so many artistic people living in our city. The prestige of our city is going to be greatly enhanced."
Falco, the city's film liaison and festival commissioner, will also be one of the judges on the panel. "It's the joining of New Jersey's cultural capital with one of the state's greatest artistic events," said Falco. "This is a great opportunity for the city of Hoboken, its residents, and the film festival. [Hoboken is] the birthplace of baseball, the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, and now Hoboken is pregnant again."
Falco has worked with such luminaries as Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Martin Scorsese over the years. In 2004 he performed in and co-produced the major motion picture "Forget About It," starring Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch.
In addition to recognizing international films, the festival will be awarding legendary actor Charles Durning with its 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival's Gala Awards Ceremony.
The festival will be held from June 1 through June 7 and will be housed at several locations within Hoboken, including the DeBaun Theatre and Burchard Auditorium at Stevens Institute of Technology as well as the Pier A Park with Hoboken's Movies Under the Stars.
The Hoboken International Film Festival
The festival's celebrity jury will consist of Emmy Award winning actress Eileen Fulton, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning producer Richard Barclay, critically acclaimed director B.J. Davis, MTV casting director Michael Petolino, daytime television stars Sonia Satra and Ed Fry, boxing attorney Michael Borao, actor Brandon Slagle, Kenneth Del Vecchio, and Anthony Falco Sr.
The films will be judged in 14 separate categories that include Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, and Best Screenplay. A $1,000 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of the Best Feature Film, with all other winners receiving a prize of $500. In addition to the prize, the winner for best feature film will be given the opportunity to have their film distributed by Echelon Studios which Del Vecchio owns.
Although there is no way to predict the amount of entries, Del Vecchio estimates that between 2,000 and 2,500 feature films, shorts, documentaries, and television pilots will enter, of which only 50 will be selected for the festival.
Each of the films selected will be aired on a newly created cable network called Director's Cut, which is set to premiere within the next 60 to 90 days.
In the past, the New Jersey International Film and Screenplay Festival received entries from over 30 nations including Japan, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Brazil, and Mozambique. In addition to the large volume of diverse films, Del Vecchio predicts that over 10,000 people will visit Hoboken during the week to take part in the festival.
In order to be eligible for the film festival, all works must be completed after Jan. 1 2004, and must be on either a VHS tape or DVD. Depending on what the project is and when it is submitted, there are four separate submission deadlines, the latest being March 31 of next year.
The cost of having one's work considered for the film festival ranges between $25 and $70.
Lights, camera, action!
Hoboken's latest film endeavor comes only days after the City Council approved zoning changes that would allow developers to build a five-screen movie theater at 14th Street between Adams and Grand streets. The "urban theater," as it has been described, will not include parking in the hopes of encouraging patrons to either walk or take mass transit to it.
The new theater comes a year after the two-screen Hudson Street Cinemas located near the PATH station closed.
Though there have been many films made in Hoboken, it's most legendary encounter with the big screen came in the early 1950s with the film "On the Waterfront." The film was shot on location in Hoboken in 36 days and won eight Academy Awards in 1954, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, which went to Marlon Brando for his portrayal of Terry Malloy, a struggling boxer turned longshoreman who informed on the mob who were corrupting the docks.
Hoboken has also played host to several other film festivals over the years, such as the Hoboken Film Festival, which debuted in 1988 and was held in Maxwell's before being renamed the Hudson County Film Festival the following year. From 1989 through 1993 the festival was held first at the Shannon Lounge and later at the former Renegade Theatre Company, which was located in the area of 10th and Madison Streets.
In 1994, the festival was renamed for the last time to the New Jersey Independent Film & Video Festival.
A major sponsor for the event was Projected Images, a non-profit organization created 20 years ago by Hoboken Cultural Coordinator Gerri Fallo to bring alternative films to Hoboken residents. Projected Images will also be co-sponsoring the 2007 Hoboken International Film Festival.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.