New Jersey Film Festival celebrates 35th anniversary


filmfestivalviktoriamarich
Photo by Viktoria Marich |

The New Jersey Film Festival will celebrate its 35th anniversary this year. 


It’s the time of year when the air is crisp, students make their return to campus and preparations for the New Jersey Film Festival are well underway.

The Rutgers Cinema on Livingston campus allows students to watch new mainstream releases, but for those interested in an alternative viewing selection, this fall’s Film Festival will also be shown.

Similar to previous years, the festival will showcase a variety of genres and media styles from local as well as international budding directors. This year will also mark the festival’s 35th anniversary and will feature more guest panelists.

“Each season, there is a certain theme that you see more than others,” said Albert Nigrin, a professor of Cinema Studies at Rutgers and founder of the film festival.

Nigrin said he noticed that many of the movies that were selected had a unifying theme of powerful women and female roles.

“I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or if maybe it’s very much tied to the way that people see the future, where maybe we will have a female leader after December,” he said.

“Racing the Sunrise,” a short film by a New Jersey native, is about a young woman who has to take care of her family and her dysfunctional mother. Another film, “C.I.T,” also has a female lead, focusing on a young girl dealing with a family tragedy and her friendships along the way.

Morgan Sanguedolce, the house director for the festival, said she looks forward to another set of opportunities to meet and network with filmmakers.

“A house manager is in charge of running the festival, playing the screenings and hosting the audience,” the School of Arts and Sciences junior said. “(They are) kind of ... the face of the show.”

This will be her third year interning for the festival. She has already sat in office hours with the other interns, watching the festival nominees and critiquing which movies will make it to screening.

“It’s really cool to be able to move up in responsibility to really get the fulfillment of it,” she said.

An aspiring filmmaker herself, working the festival has given Sanguedolce access to other directors and members of the film community. Last summer, she had the opportunity to meet with directors from all over the country.

“I learned from their experiences about what it took to make a feature length film, something I’d love to do someday. It’s a really great way to get a perspective on other people’s experiences,” she said.

Sanguedolce said she is looking forward to the premiere of “Tenderness,” a short drama about a young couple set in Poland.

“It has to be one of the best short films I’ve ever seen come through the festival. It was absolutely mind blowing," she said. "It was fantastic, and I really can’t wait to see it again."

The opening night feature will be “Gandhiji My Mentor,” a film shot in India by a local director that focuses on a troubled man who confronts Mahatma Gandhi.

Nigrin sought to expand the availability of revival films and to create a film culture at Rutgers in the 1980s. Though the festival has grown and changed since then, it is still an important source of locally set and produced films that may be overlooked in the mainstream.

Nigrin’s goal is to expose Rutgers to “films made by people like you and me who have a vision and want to share it with an audience.”


Gabriela Amaral is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @sentientfog.


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