There are a lot of big firsts in this year’s Montclair Film Festival program — the first ever Super Secret Special Screening, the first ever Family Centerpiece film, and the first ever live Q&A broadcast to theaters all over the country at the same time, hosted by Stephen Colbert with Tolkien stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins, and director Dome Karukosk.

You’ll want to get tickets ASAP – and to do that, you need to become a member now, to get early access to all 2019 Montclair Film Festival events and screenings. One of the perks of being a member? You can drop by the Members’ Open House on Wednesday, April 10 from 12 – 3pm, where Montclair Film Program Staff will be on hand to answer questions. You could even ask Montclair Film’s executive director Tom Hall to help you make some great picks.

Hall shared some of his picks for making the most of #MFF19 at a Sponsor/Donor preview party Sunday (Baristanet is a proud media sponsor of the Montclair Film Festival).

Hall described Wild Rose, MFF19’s Opening Night film as a “A Star Is Born set in Scotland.”

Check out the trailer of this don’t-miss film that sets the stage for the 2019 Montclair Film Festival.

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Another film you won’t want to miss is this year’s Fiction Centerpiece film, Late Night.

Emma Thompson appears in Late Night by Nisha Ganatra, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Emily Aragones.

Mindy Kaling wrote and stars in Late Night, which also features Emma Thompson. Kaling spent time at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to research the inner workings of the world of late night talk shows. So it’s only fitting that Stephen Colbert will meet up with Kaling for a special conversation

Then there’s the Fox Searchlight world premiere of Tolkien at the Wellmont Theater.

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Hall describes Tolkien as a “powerful movie that’s a throwback to those period dramas of the 90s.”

“Think of it as a Dead Poets Society meets Word War I type of film,” says Hall, who adds that Colbert is a Tolkien expert and it was his idea to do the livefeed that will stream in theaters around the country.

“It’s gonna happen, there have been meetings, and planning, and we’re going to make history,” says Hall, who adds that you “better be in your seats at 7:30” because there’s about a nine-minute window for Montclair Film to stream to a whole country of Tolkien fans.

Other special screenings Hall recommended include The Apollo, which explores the incredible history of Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater and Miles Davis: Birth of The Cool, the documentary centerpiece film that will feature a live performance of Miles Davis music performed by Jazz House Kids prior to the screening and a Q&A following.

Friday night also features House Party 2019, with DJ Easy Mo Bee spinning Hip Hop and R&B, especially apropos since DJ Easy Mo Bee produced Miles Davis’ final record.

“I would listen to her read the phone book for two hours,” said Hall, while speaking of MFF19’s closing film, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. The film offers an incredible portrait of the Nobel Laureate and author, followed by a director Q&A.

The Elephant Queen, is the first ever family centerpiece film, and it’s Montclair Film Festival’s first film presented in 4K. A dollar from every ticket sold will go to The Nature Conservancy and families can arrive early to the Wellmont for The Elephant Experience including giveaways and more.

Fresh from directing the amazing “Escape at Dannemora,” Ben Stiller will sit down with Stephen Colbert for a conversation about his TV and film work and career as an actor/director/writer.

Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr will participate in a panel & conversation discussing her book “All That You Leave Behind,” a memoir about her life with father David Carr, celebrated journalist, best-selling author and Montclair resident who died in 2015 after suffering a fatal collapse in the newsroom of The New York Times. Erin Lee Carr’s own film, “I Love You, Now Die” will also be screened at the festival.

Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis returns to Montclair for a Q & A following “Olympia”, a documentary that takes an intimate look at her life.

Another documentary “mopping up audience awards,” says Hall, is Biggest Little Farm, which explores what happens when two dreamers and a dog swap city life for 200 acres of farm.

Another trick when reading the schedule and trying to choose what to see, is to look for films in bigger venues, since these are expected to draw the most audiences, and appeal to the most people.

Hall says the biggest theater is the Wellmont, followed by the auditorium at Montclair Kimberley Academy and then followed by Clairidge Theaters 2, 1, 5, 4 and 3 — in size order.

Hall couldn’t share any secrets about the first ever Super Secret Special Screening, but Hall did let slip that the director of the film has won an Oscar and the screenwriter has been at Montclair Film Festival previously, but there are certainly clues(!) in the description on the event page here (we figured it out – did you?).

Got tickets yet? Tell us what you are most excited to see in comments.