Teaneck Cinemas is a small, local theater that that serves and an excellent venue. It truly is a movie going experience, with all the movie snacks you might enjoy, and it's great to see independent films being shown on a big, true "movie theater" screen, which is not often the case at local film festivals. Several of the filmmakers and actors/actresses in attendance mentioned to me how cool it was to see their work up on an actual big screen, and I shared their enthusiasm for this touch. Again, well done on Larry's part for finding the location.
After each block of films, any filmmakers, actors or crew members who were involved in any of the films are invited down to the front of the theater to take questions from the audience. This is always a highligh of any film festival for me. I love hearing people talk about their work, and I always try to come up with a good question or two, as I am genuinely fascinated with the filmmaking process, and I always want to learn more.
There is also a great red carpet room, where festival attendees, filmmakers and guests can have their photos taken, either by the professional event photographer or with their own camera. Red carpet hostess, the lovely Bethany Nicole Taylor, was conducting interviews with the filmmakers and guests. All of this is a very nice touch, and it definitely added a level of glamour and excitement to the evening. Who doesn't like to have their picture taken on a red carpet? I mean, I realize I am a photo whore......but still.....
In any case, it was a lot of fun to take pictures and to mix and mingle with the filmmakers, actors and actresses who were there.
On the first night, I saw a great short film called "Gemma", which is the story of one young girl telling a bedtime story to her twin sister, with a very clever sci-fi type twist, that turned out to be very touching. I had a chance to meet the filmmakers and the girls that starred in the movie, and the were a pleasure.
Also on the first night I saw a great feature film called "Bad Frank", directed by Tony Germinario (a NJ native) and starring Tom Sizemore as a sleazy crime boss, and another NJ native, Kevin Interdonato. Kevin turns in an excellent performance as Frank, a guy with a sketchy past who is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, but people and events from his past keep trying to pull him back into a world of violence and trouble. Kevin won a well deserved Best Actor award at the festival for his performance and I can honestly say he definitely earned it. I plan to write up a comprehensive review of the film separately. Again, people who skip these festivals really are missing out. Not only was the film excellent, but I had a chance to meet with and speak to both Kevin and Tony after the film, which was a treat. I look forward to following the film, as I am sure it's going to be a hit everywhere. The film also featured yet another New Jersey guy, Brian O'Halloran, whom I am sure everyone will remember from Kevin Smiths "Clerks". The remainder of the cast, including Amanda Clayton as Franks wife and Lynn Mancinelli as the daugher of Sizemore's character is excellent as well.
Click on the image below to go to the Bad Frank IMDB page
"Wraith", written and directed by Daniel James, produced by Sam Borowski and starring Gregg Prosser and Melissa Archer is an excellent little ghost story, and I am a sucker for a good ghost story. Gregg and Melissa turn in great performances, and Daniels directing is top notch. The camera work in this film is particularly well done, which I made sure to mention BOTH times I've seen this film. I've also been lucky enough to meet Daniel, Gregg and Sam on more than one occasion to speak to them about the film, and about filmmaking in general.
"The Catalyst", from filmmaker Alan Fine, is another cool ghost/possession story which I really liked. Again, I have to mention how indie filmmakers are really stepping up their game, and this is a prime example. Well shot, well acted, and well directed, with some very cool special effects. According to Alan, this short is a "proof of concept" film, and the goal is to secure funding to develop a feature. I am looking forward to the day I can see that!
"Let's Play Dead Girl" was an interesting short film, directed by Christian A Moran, and based on the "Slenderman" events that occurred in Wisconsin. In this film, two girls create a fictional, on-line character called "Alto", who they hope to bring to life through an act of terrible violence. Another example of the great work that's happening in the indie horror world.
"The Cabinet in the Woods" is definitely one of the most "different" indie horror films I've seen in a long time, and I mean that in the best possible way! It concerns a witch, and some of her victims, and what she does to them..........well, I am not going to say, but you just need to see it to believe it. Andrew Schwarz won Best Director at the festival for this film, and it was easy to see why! A very clever film with a great story, great cinematography and great performances. I had the good fortune to be able to discuss the film, and filmmaking in general, at length with Andrew and I am definitely a fan!
My last two mentions are "Evil Rising" and "Megrim". "Evil Rising" is another "possession" type short film written by and starring Brandi Alyssa Young and directed by Savion Smith. Brandi's reaction and exuberance when she won Best Actress at the festival was one of the highlights of the entire event. She is adorable! "Megrim" (directed by Stuart Valberg) concerns an artist and a subject, only the artist does not have the best of intentions when it comes to his subject! The dialogue between the two, and the gleefully malevolent performance by Pascal Yen-Pfister as the artist made this short film one my absolute favorites.
The two day event ended with a great after party at a local restaurant. The festival attendees had a chance to mix and mingle with many of the filmmakers and performers and it was great opportunity to network. I made a lot of great new friends and a lot of new contacts in the indie filmmaking world. I am looking forward to working with many of them in the future. I also won't hold it against Sam Borowski for taking candy from a little kid....after all, he actually did ask!
Overall, it was a great two nights. Events like this are why I love being involved in the indie film world. So many great movies and so many great people. Cheers to Larry Rosen for putting on a great evnt and cheers to everone who was there. I look forward to doing it again next year! For more information on the Northest Film Festival Horror Fest, just click on the link!!