The series, curated by HExTC co-founder Arian Blanco, will screen four film-shorts by Hudson County filmmakers who have garnered acclaim in film festivals across the nation.
"I have wanted to do this for a while," said Blanco. "In addition to our live performances, we have wanted to showcase [films,] and do something outside the mainstream."
HExTC has called the 32nd Street Playhouse home for several years, and has put on dozens of performances there per year.
The screenings will be held on Friday, Oct. 12, and on Saturday, Oct. 13, and will include a "talk back" session with representatives of each film.
From the stage to the screen
The Union City-based theater group has been producing live theater productions for years. They are getting ready to celebrate their fifth year as an official non-profit organization.
The HExTC screening room series is dedicated to creating a space and forum where filmmakers and Hudson County audiences can gather locally and view films that are not ordinarily shown at major movie houses.
Especially films by up-and-coming local talent.
"This is a pilot program," said Blanco. "If it generates interest in the community, we are hoping to have it three or four times a year, and have featured guest curators."
The four film-shorts to be screened are Perros Sin Amor (Loveless Dogs), written and directed by Christina Soto of West New York; Flavor of the Month, written and directed by Rob Santana of Jersey City; Wigged Out, written by Stephanie Angelil, Nirene DiNardo, and written and directed by Adam Meyers; and Roma Sub Rosa written by Jim Thalman (formerly of Union City) and directed by Michael Fischa.
Thalman was also one of the original founding members of HExTC.
The series draws from HExTC's past, bringing back writers, directors, and actors from previous stage performances.
"All the films feature some kind of element of a past HExTC production or participation in our live plays," said Blanco.
Soto, who wrote and directed Perros Sin Amor, debuted the live stage production of her recently-released film Muñeca with HExTC.
And Liche Ariza, one of the lead actors of Flavor of the Month, has also performed in several HExTC productions including Jane Ho, which co-starred Hobokenite Stephanie Angelil, co-writer of Wigged Out.
"These are all completed works and a number of them have already been in film festivals around the country, and have done well," said Blanco.
About the films
Perros Sin Amor is a five-minute-long silent experimental film. It is described as a visual exploration of an artist's inner struggle.
"What inspired me to make it was that Muñeca was such a dialogue [heavy] film, so I decided to make a film that had no dialogue," said Soto. "I wanted to incorporate more visuals in my work, and [embrace] the challenge to make a film without words."
The film was selected for the Boston Latino Film Festival this month, and also for the Cine Sin Fin (Cinema without end festival) in Los Angeles next month. It also already screened at two other film festivals in Los Angeles at the beginning of this year.
For more information on Soto's film visit www.perrossinamor.com.
Flavor of the Month is an 18-minute absurdist black comedy about an upcoming fashion designer's dinner date. An interruption by her loser ex-boyfriend brings about comic and terrifying results.
"It's a dark comedy all in the space of 20 minutes, meant to be absurdist and not at all realistic," said Santana. "It's about what happens when someone with low self-esteem can be easily manipulated into believing that she is not a success, and lets this person cut her down."
Flavor of the Month was also screened and had a tremendous response at the Millennium Screening in New York City last March.
"People dug it, and the women related to it more than the guys," said Santana. "I am looking forward to screening it for my fellow Jerseyites."
Wigged Out is a 28-minute retro-slasher musical Cinderella story with a twist and a whole lot of hair. "It started off as a black-and-white five-minute short, and turned into this technicolor extravaganza," said co-writer Angelil.
The story, set in Big Momma's Salon, focuses on a girl named Cindy as the whole town gets ready for the Roller Hair Ball.
"Cindy is pathetic and has a disease where she pulls her hair out; she's a mousy little girl," said Angelil.
Cindy craves the beautiful hair of Ella, who acts like a little princess.
"Cindy wants to be her, so she slashes her hair off," said Angelil. "There is definitely some gore, and she steals [Ella's] man. [The story] underlines how far you go to get what you want."
Two years ago, the film was the Hudson County winner for Best Film at Lunafest, which is a national film festival sponsored by Luna nutrition bars.
Roma Sub Rosa, which originally aired on HBO, is a 28-minute historical fictional narrative set in Italia 212 B.C., and depicts the birth of the mafia through the story of a surviving commander and what's left of the Roman army.
Roma Sub Rosa is our final offering of the evening and was written by Jim Thalman, who was one of the founding members of HExTC," said Blanco.
Roma Sub Rosa held its screening in New York City, and was later broadcast on HBO to wide acclaim. Some of the actors in the film have also participated in HExTC productions.
Expanding their efforts
Despite their annual jam-packed schedules, members of HExTC took sometime away from their own productions this year to partner with other local theater companies.
They recently co-presented the Vagina Monologues with the Hoboken-based theater company Gaia. HExTC provided Gaia with their space at the 32nd Street Playhouse.
Gaia was able to raise over $4,000, part of which went towards a number of women's charities they support. They also recently participated in the second annual Hudson County One-Act Festival, held at Steven's Institute of Technology.
"[Over the past year] we have worked in collaboration with other companies, providing venue and technical support," said Blanco. "We are really happy that we have been good neighbors."
The screening is at the 32nd Street Playhouse, 560 32nd St., Union City. Admission for the show is $5, and reservations are strongly encouraged. To make reservations call (877) 571-3797. For more information, visit www.hextc.org. To comment on this story, e-mail Jessica Rosero at email@example.com