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Film: ‘Equal Means Equal’ to screen in Montclair

in Arts/Film/Gender/Women
Sen. Robert Menendez talks with director Kamala Lopez for the documentary “Equal Means Equal.”
Courtesy equalmeansequal.com


It’s perfectly legal to pay a woman less than a man for the same job.

Women don’t have equal protection under the law.

Many people assume that they do but in fact, said Judith Scheuer, co-producer, with her husband, Joseph Melicker, of the documentary “Equal Means Equal,” that isn’t the case at all.

“Lots of people don’t realize the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was never passed. People feel there are laws on the books that protect the rights of women, but the reality is many have been gutted by court decisions,” Scheuer said. “The film goes into a number of aspects of women’s lives that are impacted by inequality, such as employment discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, what women have to experience if they are survivors of domestic assault or abuse.”

“Equal Means Equal,” directed by Kamala Lopez, will have its first Montclair public screening on Thursday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Clairidge Theater, 486 Bloomfield Ave. In addition to Scheuer and event co-organizer Cindy Stagoff, the organizing team included Deborah Zafman, Melissa Koziar, Catherine E. Brown, and Sharon Martin.

There will be a panel presentation afterward featuring Lenora Lapidus, director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, and Brigitte Alexander, an emergency room doctor at North Central Bronx Hospital, where she oversees the hospital’s Sexual Assault Response Team.

The panel will be moderated by Annette Johnson of S.O.F.I.A. [Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates].

Event co-organizer Cindy Stagoff, who also organizes the annual Concert for Haiti in Montclair, said she saw a screening of the film in New York, and wanted to bring it here.

“There’s a robust and healthy debate out there about what women need to further equality,” Stagoff said. “We’re hoping the showing of this film inspires discussion of organizing, and remedies.”

Scheuer explained that the amendment required ratification by 38 states. “The ERA reached 35 states, and had a deadline. Not all constitutional amendments have deadlines.” Having one for the ERA, she said, was neither right nor just.

Sen. Robert Menendez speaks as demonstrators hold replicas of the green-and-white signs for the original ERA campaign, in a scene from “Equal Means Equal.”
Courtesy equalmeansequal.com.

Nevada ratified the amendment two months ago, making it the first ratification in 40 years, she said: “We’re hoping that Congress will lift the deadline.”

Ticket proceeds will benefit S.O.F.I.A., which, according to its website, “provides advocacy, supportive services and referrals for temporary housing to “at risk” women and children of domestic violence.”

The screening is sold out, but there will be a standby line, Stagoff said, adding that there will be other activities organized around women’s rights in the fall: “Given the current administration and what the president is doing to foster inequality, we believe it’s necessary to provide community discussion, and have a conversation about community action.”

The election, she said, actually led to activism.

“The women’s marches were very powerful,” Stagoff said. “People feel a need to participate and do something, create change.”

“It’s not just a women’s film,” said Scheuer. “All people should see this. Inequality does not just impact women, but children, men who are sons of women, and married to women, and who care about women in any way.”

The movie is available for purchase on iTunes. More information about “Equal Means Equal” is at equalmeansequal.com.

For more information about the Montclair screening, email Stagoff at cstagoff@comcast.net, or Scheuer at jescheuer@gmail.com.

Books: in ‘Sisters One, Two Three’ secrets run in families

in Arts/Books


There is a different reality of family for every person in it, says Nancy Star, author of “Sisters One, Two, Three.”

“Who’s to say which memory is right or wrong?” the Montclair author asked. “I have one sister, she had a memory of a certain food my mother served when my father was on a business trip.

“I have no memory of that.

“It struck me, in a million years I would never have that memory. There is a secret code even in a happy family. A family is a living organism.”

The secrets in the novel “Sisters One, Two, Three,” which came out in January, have more weight than what mom made for dinner when: a mother has hidden from her teenage daughter that in addition to her living sister, she had a brother who died, as well as a sister who disappeared from her life.

The mother, Ginger, was a young girl in the 1970s, dealing with her own histrionic mother, Glory, whose relationship with truth was iffy. The book takes place in the ’70s, when Ginger was one of four children, and also 30 years later, when Ginger is an overprotective worrier over her own daughter, Julia.

When Glory dies, the missing sister reappears and all three return to Martha’s Vineyard, where an accident happened when they were children.

“There are clearly two sets of mothers and daughters,” said Star. “The main character as a daughter and the main character as a mother.


“I have an interest in families. Behind every closed door of a house, there’s something going on that’s a secret. No matter how anybody presents themselves, there’s usually a more complicated past.”

She began thinking about secrets at a dinner party when someone mentioned that she hadn’t told her daughter she’d been married before.
None of the characters are based on her own family, Star said.

“The only character I took from real life is the dog. Echo is based on a Welsh springer who isn’t with us, but is memorialized in Echo.”

Julia, the rebellious teen, was inspired by a YouTube video of a college girl doing performance art on the streets of Wesleyan on weekends.

“I thought, her poor mother,” Star said.

Then she saw more videos of the girl, and realized the girl had grown up to be the performer Amanda Palmer.

Star said she wondered, “What’s that like, to have a child who goes in a direction you don’t expect? You might misinterpret because you don’t understand what it’s going to be.”

Star is a featured author in the BooksNJ Literary Festival in Paramus on June 11. She will also speak at the Chilmark Library in Martha’s Vineyard, where much of the book is set. In August, she will participate in the Bergen County Cooperative Library System “Invite an Author” program. The BCCLS system includes Montclair. That program mostly sets up events for the year, Star explained. (For more information, visit Star’s website, nancystarauthor.com.)

Local bestselling author Christina Baker Kline gave the book a rave blurb, describing it as “a searing portrait of a family haunted by tragedy and fractured by the toxic power of secrets.” Kline, author of “Orphan Train” and “A Piece of the World,” said by email that Star is “one of the most dedicated, thoughtful writers I know. She has been a model for me in terms of staying flexible along the way and redefining her career.”

The two women are in a writers’ group together. Before Star was a novelist, she was an executive in the movie business. As vice president of development of acquisitions for New York and London for the Sam Goldwyn company, it was her job to look for material.

“I couldn’t support myself as a writer, so I got a job in a creative field,” Star said. She was always sympathetic to the writers, though “in the movie business, they’re on the bottom rung.

“I always thought they were right.”

It was when she became a mother herself that she took a leave of absence to write a novel (she’d written a nonfiction book about tipping around the world while still at Sam Goldwyn). She never went back.

Today, Star said, she tries to write every day, “to stay in the world of my book.”

But she did take some time off to help her daughter with her new baby. In the book, and in life, family comes first.


Excerpt: ‘Sisters One, Two, Three’
(pages 94-95)
by Nancy Star

As usual, Ginger got the booby prize, front seat, and as usual, Glory drove like she was an actress sitting in the chopped-off half of a fake car on an old-time movie set, images of the world whizzing by as if on a screen. It was all, look over there, as the car swerved to the right, and look at that, as she overcorrected to the left. Anyone watching would surely assume they were a carload of drunken teenagers, and not a family with a mother who drove, forearms pressed against the wheel, as she inexplicably applied and then reapplied her lipstick every five minutes. Really, it was a mystery, how the same woman who could sit perfectly still, studying a single puzzle piece for minutes at a time, had to fidget constantly while driving. Suddenly a self-proclaimed expert on country roads, her hands fluttered like hummingbirds, to the radio looking for a better station, to her purse searching for a lozenge. Everything was urgent, her need for a tissue, for a nail file, for some Chiclets. And though she checked the rearview mirror frequently, communicating with glares or smiles to whichever child was or wasn’t displeasing her, she seemed oblivious that they were all clutching their seats with white-knuckled grips.

Making matters worse, the drought had turned the unpaved roads bone-dry, so their car traveled in a cloud of its own dust. “Like Pig-Pen,” Callie cheerfully observed, too young to understand the danger held in the equation of lack of visibility plus dreamy driver.

Ramadan: less food, more words

in Community/Holidays
Marina Budhos, left, and Kevin Dawud Amin discuss her book “Watched” at Montclair High School on May 19.


Not eating during the day is not the hardest thing about Ramadan, for Kevi Dawud Amin, of the Masjid Ul Wadud mosque on Bloomfield Avenue.
It’s reading the entire Quran.

Many people know that during Ramadan, which will probably start in the evening of Friday, May 26, and continue through the evening of Saturday, June 24, Muslims do not eat from sunrise to sunset.

Small children, pregnant women, the sick and elderly do not fast.

It’s only “probably” that the event starts Friday because the Muslim calendar is based on a lunar month. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, and Muslims wait for the new moon to appear before announcing the holiday.

Non-Muslims may also know that during this period, Muslims refrain from physical relationships with their spouses from sunrise to sunset.
The positive aspects and requirements of the month are less well known.

Before the month starts, “I try to read more,” Amin says. He also prepares his body for the month-long fast by fasting a bit.

During the month, he says he “try to give more charity, pray more, and do more acts of faith.

“The intention is that by you doing this every day for 29-30 days, you will carry habits over to the rest of the year.”

Ramadan is the month that Muslims believe the Quran was revealed.

By fasting, “mentally, it allows you to focus more on faith and incentives,” Amin said. “It sounds a lot harder and more difficult than it is.”

He doesn’t become hungry or weak, unless early in the day he finds himself yelling or arguing. Anger has a draining effect on the body.

“Really, I’m just trying to get that Quran read,” he said. The Holy Book is divided into 30 parts, and for the past 15 years he’s made it through 27 or 28.

It’s not about time: “I have time to watch boxing, basketball, comedy, the latest Bourne movie,” Amin said with a laugh. “It’s really about discipline.”

For a future article, we’d like to find out about Ramadan in the school system. If you are a Muslim who fasts in the school system, a teacher or a parent of a Montclair student, we want to hear from you! Write to us at culture@montclairlocal.news


Studio Players: All aboard for the Twentieth Century

in Arts/Theater
Angela Grippo, as Ida Webb, left, and Nicholas Hudson, as Oscar Jaffe, emote in a scene from “The Twentieth Century” at the Studio Playhouse. Christopher Shannon/For Montclair Local

Adapted by Ken Ludwig from on the play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, based on the unproduced play “Napoleon of Broadway” by Charles B. Millholland

Studio Playhouse, 14 Alvin Place
June 2-17

Studioplayhouse.org, 973-744-9752


Before he played Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin played another colorful New Yorker, the egotistical Broadway producer Oscar Jaffe, one of the main characters in “The Twentieth Century.”

Baldwin performed in a Ken Ludwig adaptation of the play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (authors of “The Front Page”) on Broadway in 2004. (A musical version, titled “On the Twentieth Century,” ran on Broadway in 1978 and in 2015).

Studio Playhouse presents the comedy as its season closer, beginning on Thursday, June 1, continuing through Wednesday, June 17.

The title of the play is the name of the train that various theater people travel aboard from Chicago to Grand Central Station. Aboard the 20th Century Limited, larger-than-life producer Oscar Jaffe tries to woo former flame, the star Lily Garland (née Mildred Plotka) into signing a contract with him.

According to Wikipedia, the unproduced play by Charles B. Millholland on which Hecht and MacArthur based their comedy was titled “Napoleon on Broadway.” The character of Jaffe was based in part on the Broadway producer David Belasco.

With a cast of 12, and a set that demands several train cars with working doors, it’s a complicated show. The Hecht/MacArthur play, before the Ludwig adaptation, bowed in 1932, and includes period language, style, jokes and the fast pace of a farce.


Director Amy Fox, of Verona, said she was drawn to the piece after she saw the musical. Once she read the play, she found it “as much fun without the music.”

And, she added, “it’s a show about theater people. That’s always a fun piece of the puzzle.”

The set reminds Fox of the kind of puzzle that has sliding tiles in a frame with one tile missing.

Designer Ken Budris, of West Caldwell, who played Algernon in a 2014 production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” at Studio Playhouse, came up with a way to put three full-sized train car interiors on a less-than-Broadway-sized stage: casters. One of the cars moves left to right, and two move up and down stage.

Nicholas Hudson, of Brooklyn, plays Studio’s Jaffe, throwing around a scarf with abandon at a dress rehearsal Monday night. Hudson, as Jaffe, bemoans his sorry fate in a booming voice, and giggles with Garland about the ridiculousness of it all. It is Hudson’s first role with Studio Players, and one of few that he’s performed: despite his onstage confidence and happy mugging, Hudson is a newcomer to acting: he began only last year.

He began acting after accompanying his wife, and a good friend, on auditions. Both times, Fox got a role and the person he went with did not.

“I’m something of an audition vampire,” the actor said with a laugh.

But though he is new to treading the boards, he said his friends and family wouldn’t say the role of a big ham is a stretch. When he tells stories, Hudson said, “I do the voices.”

Working with Judy Wilson of Fort Lee, who plays Garland, is especially fun for Hudson, because when alone together the two thespians show that they understand each other’s schtick. “We don’t have much opportunity to be authentic people,” the actor said.

For Fox, Hudson owned the role from the moment he showed up.

In a scene with Garland, when Jaffe describes a play, and chants “olives, olives, olives,” Garland laughs — and so does the director, every time.

Audiences may laugh, and also feel good about going; with this show, Studio begins a tradition of community outreach. Box office for the first Thursday evening performance, on June 8, will be split with the Montclair Ambulance Unit.

In the future, one Thursday performance for every main-stage show will split the proceeds with a local charity or service organization.

From Left to right, Bill O’Brien, as Owen O’Malley, Matt Hayes, as the porter, Angela Grippo, as Ida Webb, Lonzel Wilson, as the conductor, and Mark Liebert, as Matthew Clark, act out a scene in On the 20th Century and the Studio Playhouse.
Christopher Shannon/For Montclair Local.

Montclair film: fun, funny, fundraising on Red Nose Day

in Arts/Montclair Film/Nonprofit
Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall, left, and MF board officer Luke Parker-Bowles are hosting a bake sale and film marathon to raise money for Red Nose Day. Courtesy Neil Grabowsky.


Abbot and Costello.

Laurel and Hardy.

The Blues Brothers.

French and Saunders.

Parker Bowles and Hall.

Luke Parker Bowles, board officer of Montclair Film, and Tom Hall, executive director of Montclair Film, banter and bounce jokes off one another without letting up.

They are joining together in comedy to raise money for Red Nose Day USA, a charity that provides protection for children throughout the world, including America.

Inspired by the U.K’s Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, Red Nose Day debuted in America in 2015. NBC will hold Red Nose Day programming, and people across the U.S. will wear red noses and raise money to honor it. For more information on the organization, visit rednoseday.org.

Fundraising activities by the duo in Montclair include a bake sale, to be held today, May 25, from 10 a.m. to noon, outside of Local Coffee, 107 Watchung Plaza, and then a 24-hour movie marathon. Each man will watch 12 movies, with money raised per movie, similar to the way people raise funds for each mile in a marathon.

Posters for the Red Nose bake sale on Thursday, May 25, are all over Montclair. Courtesy Neil Grabowsky.

Red-nose-themed baked goods will be provided by the Little Daisy Bake Shop, the Pie Store, and Local Coffee, and sold by Parker Bowles and Hall at the stand. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to their Facebook campaign, because all Facebook donations are eligible for matching contributions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The movie marathon is not for a Montclair audience, though: Parker-Bowles and Hall are raising money by watching 24 hours’ worth of films and live-streaming their reactions.

And they can’t stop trying to top one another.

“To be frank, the reason for a second year, is that I won big time last year and Tom’s never got over it. He’s a bitter man,” said Parker Bowles.

Parker Bowles, who heads BAFTA New York (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), said that Hall accused him of raising more money because he knows more celebrities.

“Renée Zellweger and Emma Thompson both donated to my campaign,” Parker Bowles said.

Hall said that while he didn’t have famous people he had more people in total “than those fancy pants movie stars.”

Last year, the duo chose films for one another. This year, they chose their own: Hall focused on films about children, and Parker Bowles chose comedies, “because I’m hilarious,” he said. “It made sense that I should learn more funny over 24 hours.”

Hall, who will screen his 24 hours’ worth of films at Cinema505, has raised $5,672 so far. Parker Bowles, who will screen movies “in my poky little office above the hardware store on Park Street,” has raised $4,387. They will both live-stream their experience, answering questions and topping each other’s jokes.

Their film-watching is described as a “battle” in Montclair Film materials.

One man will get the glory, but the children will take the prize.

Hall’s page is bit.ly/DonateToTeamTom, Parker Bowles’ page is bit.ly/DonateToTeamLuke, and their battle is waged here: bit.ly/LukeVsTom .

Matisse provides a respite at the Montclair Art Museum

in Arts/Montclair Art Museum/Visual art

“Matisse and American Art”
through June 18

“Inspired by Matisse”
through July 29

“Janet Taylor Pickett:
The Matisse Series”
through July 2

Montclair Art Museum,
3 South Mountain Ave.

“The Circus,” from the Portfolio “Jazz,” 1947, by Henri Matisse (1869-1954). All images courtesy Monclair Art Museum.


People love Matisse.

People love Matisse and don’t even know it’s Matisse that they love.

His iconic dancing figures appear on tote bags, mugs, posters. On a recent afternoon at Raymond’s on Church Street, Matisse-inspired cutouts adorned the walls.

The Montclair Art Museum has three Matisse-flavored exhibits on display: “Matisse and American Art,” which runs through June 18; “Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series,” which runs through July 2, and “Inspired by Matisse: Selected Works from the Collection,” which runs through July 29.

So why is Henri Matisse (1869-1954) so popular?

MAM Curator Gail Stavitsky said that people respond to the harmony, beauty, purity and serenity of the artist’s work. “People want to feel good about themselves,” Stavitsky said. “They’re a respite, to restore people’s spirits.”

“Matisse and American Art” is a loan show, and includes 19 works by Matisse and 34 by American artists, from 1907 to the present day. None are from the museum’s collection.

Because all of the works had to be borrowed from other museums and private collections, the show took more than five years to put together, Stavitsky said. “It’s a long process of begging,” she said.

The other two shows are related: “I basically see this as one big show with a few consistent themes,” Stavitsky said. “How artists adapted Matisse’s subject matter: paintings of nudes, bathers, still lives, landscapes, studio interiors … Very early on artists had a sophisticated understanding of how he uses these subjects, his vibrant colors, fluid lines, simplifying forms. Very early on they were doing their own spins and interpretations. None of these American artists are actually copying Matisse. They were able to use him as a springboard to find their own means of expression.”

Some of the artists included in “Matisse and American Art” are Max Weber, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Faith Ringgold, and Robert De Niro Sr.

“Bellagio Hotel Mural: Still Life with Reclining Nude (Study),” 1997, by Roy Lichtenstein.

The exhibit shows the progression of Matisse’s style, from his 1906 “Nude in a Wood,” an example of the “fauve” style, to his later abstracted works (the ones that adorn the tote bags). “Fauve,” Stavitsky explained, means “wild beast,” and was a term used by a critic about the bold style of Matisse and other artists’ work.

“Nude in a Wood (Nu dans la forêt; Nu assis dans le bois),” 1906, by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

“Matisse and American Art” shows that Matisse had a reciprocal relationship with America: early collectors such as Leo and Gertrude Stein, as well as artists, appreciated him as early as 1905. Matisse also had major shows in America, and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1930. Catalogues of Matisse exhibits are on loan from the personal library of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, who also owns some of Matisse’s work.

“Inspired by Matisse” includes 53 works from the museum’s collection.

“Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series” includes more than 76 collages and four handmade books by Taylor Pickett, who lived in Montclair until 2011 (she now lives in California). Included in the exhibition is the installation of “Sixty-Six Dresses: An Odyssey, 2014-2015.” The title refers to Taylor Pickett’s age when she created the works. For this show, she includes two additional collaged dresses to match her current age. Kathy Imlay, the show’s co-curator with Gail Stavitsky, had been following Taylor Pickett’s work for more than 10 years, the artist said by telephone. Stavitsky saw one of her pieces and “one thing led to another,” Taylor Pickett said.
Taylor Pickett’s work is in all three of the Matisse shows at MAM.

Formerly an art teacher at Essex County College, Taylor Pickett said, “Over the years I have had this conversation with a white European male artist, who has been an influence on generations of artists. I was always drawn to his color, use of line and shape. He became part of my visual vocabulary.”

The dress shape has been a vessel for her work for many years, Taylor Pickett said. “It goes back to the first time I had to buy a black dress,when my father died. I began to think about the symbol, metaphor of what a dress was. Then it became a vessel of memory that I could fill.”

Her work, she said, shows her “voice as a woman and an African-American and an artist.”

“Vessel Dress Still Life After Matisse,” 2013, by Janet Taylor Pickett (b. 1948)

One of the most rewarding things that has come out of the exhibition, which Taylor Pickett described as “pretty spectacular,” is to receive messages on Facebook from strangers telling her how her work has affected them. Now, people even follow her new work on her instagram account, jpickett813.

“To be alive and to hear and know that your work has affected folks that have seen it in such a positive manner is really rewarding. Not every artist gets that. Most of the time people just walk away.”


It’s an artsy week in Montclair: the Art Walk is on Friday

in Arts/Montclair Art Museum/Montclair BID
“Blue Dog,” by Miranda, a student at Glenfield School, will be on display during the Art Walk. Courtesy Peter Wert.

Montclair is known as an artsy town.

This week Montclair shows its bona fides with the town turning itself into art: Matisse Week started on Saturday, May 13, and continues through Saturday, May 20.

One highlight of this artsy week is the biannual Art Walk. On Friday, May 19, from 6 to 9 p.m., more than 40 merchants are participating in the Art Walk, showing art in their venues. For information, visit montclaircenter.com.

This year, for the first time, a Montclair school is participating in the Art Walk: Glenfield Middle School, Montclair’s arts magnet middle school, is showing student artwork created especially for Matisse Week. One such image, “Blue Dog,” was created by Miranda, a sixth-grader at the school.

Glenfield Middle School is also holding its annual art festival during the art walk, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the school, 25 Maple Ave.
Peter Wert, a parent of twins in eighth grade at Glenfield, began talking with Montclair BID Director Israel Cronk about including student-created work in the Art Walk, to present student work to the community.

“It’s sort of a no-brainer,” Wert said. “Why not include student work, since our town is so fortunate to have art magnet schools?” Glenfield’s participation is sort of a test case for other schools, Wert said, a trial run. In the future, he hopes other schools will participate in the twice yearly Art Walks. About 20 student-created works will be exhibited in different spots around town, he said. Eventually, “maybe some of the artists in town will get involved with the schools, too.”

In addition to the Art Walk on Friday, Montclair will show its artsiness throughout Matisse Week. French and Matisse-related items will be available around town to coordinate with the week, which itself is inspired by the Montclair Art Museums three Matisse-related exhibits. Matisse Week will conclude with “Chalk Walk” on Saturday, May 20. Church Street will be closed to traffic so families can safely create chalk paintings on the street.

Montclair Film Festival: Truth is difficult- awards presented

in Arts/Montclair Film Festival
Yance Ford, director of “Strong Island,” holds the Bruce Sinofsky Prize for Documentary Feature Competition at the Montclair Film Festival Jury Awards presentation, held Saturday, May 6. Courtesy Tony Turner / Montclair Film Festival.


There was a theme at the Jury Award presentation Saturday night: truth-telling is more important than ever.

The awards ceremony was held at MFF’s new home, Cinema505, The Investors Bank Film & Media Center.

Audience awards were announced on Monday.

MFF’s Artistic Director Tom Hall introduced the junior jury, made up of 15 high school students from 12 area schools, and said that they debated for hours. The Junior Jury awarded their top prize to “Elián,” directed by Tim Golden.

Raphaela Neihausen, one of the jurors for the New Jersey Films Award, said of “ACORN and the Firestorm,” which won “The American Truth Seeker Award,” the film’s prescience is necessary “in an age of fake news and truthiness.”

Erin Carr, the late David Carr’s daughter, presented the David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking. Carr said, “It’s a really hard year for truth.” Pancho Velez and Sierra Pettingill accepted the David Carr Award for their documentary “The Reagan Show.”

The Bruce Sinofsky Award for Truth in Storytelling was presented by Claire Sinofsky, the late documentary filmmaker’s daughter.

“Documentaries highlight the need for honest storytelling in this unstable climate,” Sinofsky said.

Director Yance Ford received the award for his documentary “Strong Island.” Ford said his film is a “reflection of the fact that truth is complicated.”

This year’s festival featured four competitive categories with five films in each: Fiction, Documentary, Future/ Now, and New Jersey Filmmaking. The 2017 festival featured over 150 feature and short films screened over 10 days.

The full list of jury winners:

Fiction Feature Award: “Lady Macbeth,” directed by William Oldroyd. Special Jury Prize: Florence Pugh, for her performance in “Lady Macbeth.”

Bruce Sinofsky Award for Documentary Feature: “Strong Island,” directed by Yance Ford. Special Jury Prize for Direction: Matthew Heineman, for “City of Ghosts.”

Future/Now prize: “Beach Rats,” directed by Eliza Hitman

New Jersey Films Award: “Swim Team,” directed by Lara Stolman

American Truth Seeker Award: “ACORN & the Firestorm,” directed by Reuben Atlas and Samuel D. Pollard

David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking: “The Reagan Show”

Audience Awards: Fiction:
“Maudie,” directed by Aisling Walsh.
Documentary: “Dolores,” directed by Peter Brett.
World Cinema: “Clash,” directed by Mohamed Diab.
Short Film: “Edith + Eddie,” directed by Laura Checkoway.
Junior Jury: Special Prize for Innovative Filmmaking, “Casting JonBenet,” directed by Kitty Green.
Jury Prize: “Elián,” directed by Tim Golden.

Creativity is everywhere: Montclair’s Creativity Caravan hosts ‘The Museum of Goodbye’

in Arts/Visual art
Amy Tingle reaches for a stamp at the work station in the Creativity Caravan studio.

‘The Museum of Goodbye’

May 19-June 23
The Creativity Caravan
28 South Fullerton Ave.

Opening reception Friday,
May 19, 6-9 p.m.


Art Walk: Friday, May 19, 6-9 p.m.


An old cigarette machine dispenses tiny how-to books.

The owners of Creativity Caravan bought it off Craigslist.

The whimsy and the self-investigation implicit in the little books are hallmarks of the studio-workshop-gallery.

Before they bought it and moved it to Montclair, the machine dispensed poetry, Amy Tingle and Maya Stein explained.

Their workshop-studio-gallery space also holds a pushcart labeled with the business name,“Creativity Caravan,” with three small typewriters on top of it. Propped against one of the typewriters is a card that reads:
“I love you because you know the difference.”

Tingle and Stein were busy painting the walls a marmalade color when they spoke, getting the shop ready for its first participation in the Montclair Art Walk on Friday, May 19, from 6 to 9.

The bi-annual event includes more than 30 venues, only some of which are art galleries, displaying art in Montclair Center, encouraging patrons to stroll, shop, and enjoy.

“The Museum of Goodbye: An Exhibition of Surrender, Release, Desertion, and Letting Go” has its opening reception in the art walk, from 6 to 9 p.m., and will remain up through Sunday, June 23.

The Museum of Goodbye invited artists to explore Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler Ross’s Five Stages of Grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and to create a piece in response, using personal objects. The exhibit was designed in partnership with Nicole Okumu, and includes work from 25 artists in seven states.

Stein said that grief was especially relevant for many after the election of 2016. “For a lot of people, hope has been swept away. It’s important to keep talking about it, not just lingering in anger.”

Artists were excited to participate, Tingle said, sometimes adding that they already had a piece on the theme: “It’s a topic not done often.”

“The Museum of Goodbye,” said Stein, will encourage people to have conversations, and deepen their compassion: “Someone grieving a pet can have the same force as someone grieving a parent.”

Amy Tingle observes as Maya Stein paints the wall of the their Creativity Caravan studio.

During the month “The Museum of Goodbye” is up, Creativity Caravan will hold related events, including a reading series, a music performance, and an art therapist workshop on making altered books.

Before opening doors on South Fullerton Avenue in January, Creativity Caravan existed as a pop-up and roving business. “There is a real caravan parked in our driveway,” said Tingle. She and Stein live in Nutley.

The women wanted to have a brick-and-mortar store to have a deeper interaction with the community, they said.

Having a store allows them to do explore different kinds of teaching: to kids, adults, individuals and the community, said Stein.

Tingle agreed: “It’s igniting creativity in a broad and narrow sense.” They call their space an “imaginarium.”

Creativity Caravan holds drop-in workshops and classes, such as the monthly “social sketch,” a collaborative program where one person starts a work and others join in. Stein said, “It’s letting go of what you started with.” “There could be a doodle, with a bit of collage, then paint,” Tingle said.

Creativity Caravan also holds a “letter lounge” once a month, and provides all the tools of letter-writing. At At Creativity Caravan, Tingle said, they try to “give people a taste of how they can be creative.” Stein said, “People lose their creative confidence as they get older.” The ingenuity people bring to their daily lives is creative, she said. Reminding people of their own creativity is Creativity Caravan’s goal.

Unreal TV? Montclair’s Fresco da Franco to be on ‘Help My Yelp’

in Arts/Dining/Television

Chef Franco Porporino Jr. sits at Fresco da Franco while the Food Network crew waits to film. Courtesy Franco Porporino, Jr.

Help My Yelp’
Season one, episode six: “Italian Intervention”
Host Monti Carlo vists Fresco
da Franco and owner Franco
Porporino Jr.

May 15, 10 p.m., the Food Network

Fresco da Franco is at 15 Church St.
frescoonchurch.com, 973-337-5100

Franco Porporino Jr. has a piece of advice for restaurateurs fielding calls from reality shows:

His experience with “Help My Yelp” was a little rocky.

Maybe it’s no wonder the producers hedged on what the title of the show was when they called him.

Ultimately, Porporino Jr. said, he learned a few things, and made a friend of the show’s host, Monti Carlo.

The exposure and air time were enticing, said the chef.

But if a restaurant were really in trouble the show could be very helpful, he said.

It’s just that his restaurant, Fresco da Franco, at 15 Church St., was never in trouble. On the Yelp site, Consumers share views. Or are they truly consumer views? In one response, Porporino Jr. suggested the reviewers were shills from the competition. OpenTable, which also hosts reviews but is tied to reservations, is a better site, he said. There, his site receives a rating 4.2 out of 5, he said.

In “Help My Yelp,” a coproduction from Yelp and the Food Network, undercover Yelpers (that is, diners who don’t identify themselves as Yelpers), give feedback about a restaurant’s food and service. Later on, another group of Yelp Elite Squad members give their reports, to show how the restaurant has or has not taken advice.

And while Yelp reviews note a loud noise level at Fresco da Franco, that is only on Saturday nights after 9 p.m. Then, the restaurant might raise the music level. Fresco da Franco won the International Five Star Diamond Award award in 2015, and Porporino has just been told he’s won it again for 2017.

The award, given by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, recognizes food, atmosphere and service, and is endorsed by Michelin chefs Alain Ducasse, Jean George Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.

Porporino and his brother opened the restaurant in 2013, at a time when Church Street was less upscale than it is now. Now, the chef said, “you’re on Rodeo Drive.”

Food is in his DNA, Porporino says. When he was growing up in West Paterson, now Woodland Park, “there was no such thing as buying bread off the shelf, or cured meats.” His Italian immigrant parents grew their own vegetables out back.

After working in a pizzeria in Little Falls, and opening his own restaurant Porporino went to work as a broker on Wall Street and also hosted the upstairs exclusive celebrity club at Cipriani’s Soho in New York City. Celebrities often appear on Porporino’s weekly radio show, “Brunching with Franco,” on AM970 “The Answer,” which airs Sundays at noon. Once a month, he broadcasts live from the restaurant.
Within the past six months, Porporino has been signed as a producer to a large Hollywood production company, he said.

When he spoke to Montclair Local on Saturday, some of the personalities from “Real Housewives of New Jersey” were finishing lunch before heading off to see a film at Montclair Film Festival. And, Porporino said, it’s not only reality stars: United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson ate at the restaurant and sent the chef a thank you note.

Porporino’s concept for the restaurant was to have a little bit of the New York glamor of a place like Cipriani’s here in New Jersey.
So there’s some glitz — the palm trees outside come from Miami, he said. It’s the only restaurant on Church Street that offers valet parking.

And there’s serious cuisine.

His mother makes the pasta for Fresco da Franco. And she doesn’t use machines.

The “Help My Yelp” episode was scripted, with storylines, the chef said. He had some input into it. “Enters. Exits. Makes gnocchi.”
He thinks the show picked him because “they wanted a hot-tempered guy. I told one person [on Yelp], ‘You should go back to the Olive Garden.’”

He chuckled as he recalled challenging some of the Yelp reviewers when they filmed. “Monti was kicking me under the table,” he said. But he wouldn’t stop, telling them, “Either turn the camera off, or I’m going to keep going.”

Monti, he said, told him she’d never seen a kitchen like his. Nothing is precooked. The name of the restaurant means “Fresh by Franco,” and Porporino wants to keep it that way. He works behind the line on Friday and Saturday nights.

Filming the show did help him out with some things, especially dealing with his staff: He makes doubly sure servers know and understand all the ingredients in every dish.

The restaurant is relaunching a new menu the day the show goes live.

And he’s learned not to answer back if someone posts an unpleasant experience on Yelp.

Now, he said, “we’ll send out a gift card.”

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