Jersey City International TV and Film Festival offers something for everyone

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As the inaugural Jersey City International Television and Film Festival (JCITFF) comes to a close, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, as well as indie directors, actors, and the founding board members helped launch the red carpet event on Friday, October 17th at Parley Studios from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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By Katherine Guest/Hudson County View

“This is the Jersey City International and TV Film Festival. We wanted to make this an Indie Film Festival more than anything else because we think that Jersey City has what it takes to become the hottest place for film making. This year we have 55 movie submissions, and we picked 35 in the end. We have movies from all around the world from Greece, Sweden, Ukraine,” said Founding JCITFF Board Member, Jarl Haugedal.

On Saturday and Sunday, there were a continuous flow of movies at the Guarani Theater at JCMC, located at 430 Montgomery St., from 12 p.m. through 10 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The JCFITT overlapped the 24th annual Jersey City Art Studio Tour, which branched out from Downtown Jersey City to Greenville and Lafayette – which had over 600 artists involved with the event.

Since Jersey City is the second-most populous city in New Jersey after Newark, the level of diversity in the region embodies a sense of communion and its vast culture — the Lesbian, Gay,  Bi-sexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community being one of those facets.

Co-founding Board Member, Michael Billy, plans to challenge the JC community by tackling and celebrating prominent issues faced daily with a welcoming hand from the indie film industry.

“What inspired us this year and years to come are the community. We have an LGBT genre; we also have the largest LGBT population in New Jersey,” Billy said.

“We also have a vibrant indie community so we have an indie film genre, as well as Bollywood. We wanted the film festival to represent the community we live in, and for our partnership with NJCU, our student films are bringing light to the community problems that people might not understand.”

Mala Mala, a new documentary about the LGBT and drag community in Puerto Rico, shares insight with performers and filmmakers, Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini.

The film festival presented an array of directors and actors—one being Jack Mulcahy  who recently played Lucifer in The Jersey Devil (2014), which premiered at the Landmark Loews Jersey Theater.

This time around, Mulcahy played Steven Seagal in the indie film Alleged — directed and written by Heather Fink, NYU School of Film alumna, during the Saturday movie screening at WFMU – Monty Hall, located at 43 Montgomery St.

The film which is based off of a real life court case involving Seagal.

“It involves comedy; it involves three beautiful women, and Steven who was accused of sexual entrapment and sexual harassment. I’ve played people, who were dead, but I’ve never played people who are alive and since it was a comedy we just broadened it out being as wacky as we could and I believe we achieved that,” Mulcahy explained.

Anthony Trombetta, director of the four-minute psychological thriller Headlight, gave a sneak preview of how the genre relates to Edgar Allan Poe’s A Tell Tale Heart (1843) where a female goes crazy because she is convinced she murdered someone.

“It deals with the question of what would happen if you were to drink & drive and forgot everything the next morning—what if you did something bad and you don’t remember what you did. There was a death that was reported on the news and she was convinced that she did it so we have to find out; we have to see what happens,” said Trombetta.

Up -and-coming film director of “The Heartbreaker,” Emily Bailey, from Syracuse University, as well as  John J. University alumna – Samantha Nixon – who directed and wrote a short film called “A Day in the Park,” gave a different perspective for the JCITFF.

Both films were aired Saturday, October 18th during the screenings at WFMU-Monty Hal from 12 p.m. through 7 p.m.

“It started out as a small project since I always wanted to dabble in film at John J. University since they had a film productions course so I decided to take a stab at it,” Nixon recalled.

“The professor taught students how to pitch an idea, edit, so when I came to my pitch, I just wanted to do something unique and I got really inspired by Board Walk Empire and Charlie Chapman. I decided to create a silent film based off of a cartoon character, Snidley Whiplash who is always capturing the damsel in distress and tying her to a train track.”

Bailey on the other hand, directed a fourteen-minute film that involved children from the community and their collective dislike of the “Hallmark Holiday” known as Valentine’s Day.

Later in the event, opera singer Giselle Bellas performed three songs, with acoustics from Keenan McRae, in an attempt to reach the younger members of the audience, she explained. She also played a documentary of her journey as an opera singer.

The festival partnered with New Jersey City University, as well as Green Light Films, Royal Scandinavian, JB Talent Management, Humanity Pride Productions, Batello Restaurant, BCB Community Bank, Cocoa Bakery, SILVERMAN, and the Jersey City Medical Center-Barnabas Health.