By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

It’s been a big deal in Montclair for five years.

Now, for its sixth year, the Montclair Film Festival looks like a big deal, period.

The catalog is bigger: MFF 2017 is thick enough to have printing on the side, for the first time. The spine says “2017,” “Montclair Film Festival Guide,” and “#MFF17.”

MFF organizers say they expect up to 26,000 attendees. The Arts & Economic Prosperity Calculator on the website of Americans for the Arts estimates an impact of $2 million on the town, MFF said.

And this year MFF even changed its name: the organization is now Montclair Film, reflecting its commitment to programming events year-round.

The 10-day festival which starts on Friday, April 28, includes 72 features and 57 shorts. And Montclair Film is in its new home at 505 Bloomfield Ave., the Investors Bank Film and Media Center. A 65-seat screening room, Cinema505, is one of the festival venues.

Founder and chairman of the board Bob Feinberg said that the festival itself probably won’t get bigger, but the organization is bigger in that it can program educational events and screenings year-round.

“Some of the young actors who have taken part in some of our events in the past, who were born or spent some time growing up here in Montclair, can now do an event when they’re in town. It doesn’t have to be during the first two weeks in May,” Feinberg said.

He and the MF staff are already busy programming films for the summer, he said.

At a party to announce the line-up earlier this month, Executive Director Tom Hall pointed out some highlights of the festival: the opening night film “STEP,” which was a “huge hit at Sundance.” “Band-Aid,” the closing night film, is “about a couple who works out problems by starting a rock band with their neighbor.”

Hall thought it would resonate in Montclair.

John Turturro, who recently appeared in HBO’s “The Night Of,” will appear in MFF’s conversation series, with Stephen Colbert, on Sunday, April 30. “He’s bringing his feet,” Hall said, alluding to the bad skin condition on the feet of Turturro’s character in the HBO series.

Scientist Bill Nye brings his film “Bill Nye: Science Guy” to the Wellmont Theater on Saturday, May 6, and will appear in conversation with Stephen Colbert afterward.

Montclair’s Jonathan Alter will participate in the panel conversation “True or False? The Challenge of Reporting in the ‘Fake News’ Era.”

Hall also pointed out the sensory-friendly screenings, with modified lights and sound, included in this year’s lineup. Some of Hall’s picks include:
• “The Hero,” starring Sam Elliott;
• “The Dinner,” starring Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall, based on the novel by Herman Koch;
• “Night of the Living Dead,” in a 4K, or 4000 pixels per inch, restoration done by MoMA;
• “Casting JonBenet,” a fiction-nonfiction hybrid;
• “Dolores,” a documentary about Dolores Huerta;
• “Lady Macbeth,” an English film based on a 19th-century novel.

In our MFF special issue, we’ve highlighted a few other films and events for you, and included the weekend schedule.
See you in the dark!