Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca... Hoboken?

That's right, the Mile-Square City of Hoboken, New Jersey is joining those other famous venues in launching a film festival this year. The first Hoboken International Film Festival, which runs from June 1st to the 7th, hopes to spotlight the city's long and illustrious connections to filmmaking.

Best known as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, Hoboken was itself practically a star of the classic '40s film "On the Waterfront" (alongside a young Marlon Brando), which was filmed largely in the city. More recently, a number of films, commercials, and other works have been shot in Hoboken, taking advantage of the city's old-time urban grit and many examples of classic architecture, many of which have been refurbished since Hoboken's resurgence beginning in the 1980s.

Danny Aiello, who has appeared in a number of films that were partly filmed in Hoboken, was to meet Hoboken's mayor on May 15th to formally announce the Hoboken International Film Festival. (Several of Aiello's films will be screened at the Festival.) I'll have more on Aiello's films and career in a future post.

And Hoboken is home to legendary indie filmmaker John Sayles, whose acclaimed movies range from "Brother from Another Planet" to "Eight Men Out," "The Secret of Roan Inish," "Lone Star," and "Passion Fish."

New Jersey's role in movie history goes back much further than "On the Waterfront," though. Thomas Edison was a motion picture pioneer and created America's first movie production studio, called Black Maria, not far from Hoboken in West Orange, New Jersey. And since 1981 there has been a Black Maria Film and Video Festival--based in New Jersey--that has toured around the U.S.

The Hoboken International Film Festival will include a mix of narrative feature films, documentaries, and shorts. Some of the features to be screened at the Festival include:
"Polycarp," a horror/psychological thriller
"Fingerprints" starring Lou Diamond Phillips
"Animal People," a look at the animal protection movement in the U.S.
"Get Thrashed: The Story of Trash Metal"
"Chasing the Lotus," a documentary that takes a worldwide look at surf culture

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