By ERIN ROLL
The Montclair Film Festival had its closing night with a housewarming party of sorts.
At the end-of-festival filmmakers’ party at Cinema 505, it was a packed house: “cheek by jowl,” as Executive Director Bob Feinberg termed it on Tuesday, with filmmakers, donors and patrons mingling in high spirits.
The May 6 Filmmakers’ Party was held in Montclair Film’s new home, Cinema 505, on Bloomfield Avenue.
“I think it’s been great. We’ve had very enthusiastic audiences,” said Evelyn Colbert, board president of Montclair Film. She noted that the previous day’s rain had not impacted any of the scheduled events. “And it’s so fabulous to have everyone in our new space,” she said of Cinema 505.
“I mean, everyone who works on the festival is extremely passionate about it,” said Garrett Sergeant, whose firm, Simple DCP, has worked with the Montclair Film Festival for three years. He said that the festival had the right mix of up-and-coming filmmakers and seasoned veterans. “I always support festivals that support that mix of talent,” he said. “Plus, they take really good care of their filmmakers,” he added.
Filmmaker Allison McGourty was presenting a film at the festival for the first time. Her film, “American Epic,” is to be aired on PBS later in the month. And the audiences at the festival had given “American Epic” a very warm reception, she said: “The audience clapped after every song and gave us a standing ovation,” she said.
And Brendan O’Brien, director of “Fry Day,” had just arrived in Montclair that day and was looking forward to his film being screened on the last day of the festival.
Wesley Jones and his family had a total of two films in the festival. One was Jones’s own film, “Cat Killer.” The other was “The Indubitable Molly Davis,” directed by Jones’s 15-year-old daughter Lily, a student at Montclair Kimberley Academy. The film won a special jury prize in the festival’s Emerging Filmmakers competition for middle and high school students. And both films, Jones said, got a warm reception from the crowds.
The ground floor of Cinema 505 was packed with filmmakers, donors, support staff and the general public, as hors d’oeuvres were handed around – including hot dogs, White Castle sliders and crab cakes.
So what was the mood among the film festival organizers on Tuesday, after the festival was all over?
“Everyone is really, very excited,” Feinberg said.
The festival volunteers met for an end-of-festival party at the Pig and Prince on Sunday evening, after the last film had been screened. “And it was a combination of excitement and exhaustion, and a little of both,” Feinberg remembered.
The general consensus at the party was that the festival had been a massive success. “Our only frustration was, we’ve already outgrown our new space,” Feinberg said on Tuesday, referring to the massive turnout at the Filmmakers’ Party.
When asked for his own favorite moments from the festival, Feinberg immediately pointed to Bill Nye. “We sold out the Wellmont, there was a line around the block,” Feinberg said. Another favorite was the screening of “Megan Leavey,” the story of a Marine and her military service dog. Feinberg had admitted via email that he had tears in his eyes during the screening.
So what’s next?
The crew had been working virtually non-stop for the past 10 days. “People will take a couple of days to regroup,” Feinberg said. As of Tuesday, however, Montclair Film was in the planning phases for the rest of the year’s events, including the summer film series.