New Jersey International Film Festival

garden state film festival
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Stream more than two dozen films through the Eventive platform. Filmmaker Q&A sessions will be available for many of the films.


Friday, June 4

First Light – Amy Lee Ketchum (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Rising from the sea monster of death, a young woman’s ghost leads her grieving sister through the heart of darkness in search of light. The story of First Light is revealed through a synthesis of music and art; a hybrid of traditional hand-cut puppet and hand-drawn 2d character animation with digital effects, and an original classical score. Its poetry is sung by Maren Montalbano and Jessica Beebe, vocalists in Grammy® Award-winning ensembles. 2020; 9 min.

Bone Cage – Taylor Olson (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

In this gorgeous feature film from Nova Scotia, Jamie works operating a wood processor, clear-cutting for pulp. At the end of each shift, he walks through the destruction he has created looking for injured animals, and rescues those he can. Jamie’s desire to break free from this world is thwarted by the very environment and circumstance he’s trying to escape. Bone Cage is a sensitive examination of the parallels between the toxic ideals of masculinity that children are taught who become men, and how this goes hand in hand with the destruction of our earth. 2020; 79 min.


Saturday, June 5 – Program 1 (Short Documentary Films)

The Heartland – Marquise Mays (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Highlighting both the joys and trials of growing up Black in the Midwest, three Black Milwaukee residents confront & reconcile the unrequited love between them and their city. Separated into three chapters, we explore the childhood experience for Black kids. From the moments when they lost their innocence to the outwardly expression that defined their voices, Black kids in this city proclaim that Milwaukee will forever be theirs. 2020; 24 min.

Just Being Here – Matteo Moretti (Middlebury, Vermont)

Walter has lived alone for most of his life and doesn’t venture far from his house, but his life is far from ordinary. Just Being Here shares the story of a man who finds solace and wonder in the nature of his backyard and comfort in the company of special friends. 2021; 14 min.

Emily, ilaw ng tahahan – Anna Prokou (Doha, Qatar)
Emily, ilaw ng tahahan is an experimental documentary film about a young Filipina singer in Doha. “The set is built in a way you can understand better what she has to explain about her life. The format of the image is very well chosen, because this square is like a box where the girl is captured. Little by little we understand why life is hard for her, thanks to the lights and shadows that tears her in parts more surely than words. And the sound is precisely constructed to help us feel what is important for Emily. Music and noises are like giving us clues to understand her more. The entire film is at the same time the real life of a young singer and a work of art like the ones by Annette Messager, Marina Abramovic or Apichatpong Weerasethakul.” Professor Martin Barnier, Université Lumière Lyon. 2020; 19 min.

Stolen Fish – Gosia Juszczak (Madrid, Spain)

In the smallest country of mainland Africa, Gambia, fish is now being turned into fishmeal by Chinese corporations and exported to Europe and China to feed animals in industrial farming. As a result, Gambians are being deprived of their primary source of protein and overfishing is depleting marine ecosystems. The film follows Abou, Mariama and Paul, three Gambians who share intimate stories of daily struggle, anger, hope and longing for their loved ones in the midst of difficult migration routes. The first film on Gambia’s fishmeal factories, offering a unique insight into untold drivers of migration and the role played by women in new economic systems. In English and Wolof, subtitled. 2021; 30 min.

Saturday, June 5 – Program 2

Patent Nr. 314805 – Mika Taanila (Helsinki, Finland)

Finnish engineer Eric Tigerstedt solved the dilemma of sound-on-film already before the First World War. All images and sounds in this short film are produced from the surviving test materials originally created in 1914. 2021; 2 min.

Who the f… is Roger Rossmeisl – Luc Quelin (Paris, France)

An in-depth documentary on Roger Raymond Rossmeisl (1927-1979), one of the most overlooked great guitar makers of all time. Rossmeisl was the only guitar maker who worked with the three legendary companies, Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker. Roger’s voice is spoken by the famed actor Bruno Ganz. Also features interviews with many guitar legends including Bill Frisell, Guy Picciotto, and many others. 2021; 90 min.


Sunday, June 6 – Program 1

Safe – Josema Roig (Los Angeles, Caliornia)

A family faces the childish fiction and the stark reality of hearing a bump in the night. 2020; 10 min.

The House on Carter Road – Shawn Gerrard (Toronto, Canada)

At the height of redlining in 1968, a black couple and a white couple try to buy the same suburban house in New Jersey. 2020; 10 min.

Leave Nothing Behind – Stephanie Schwiederek (Somerville, New Jersey)

An intimate and visceral portrait of the filmmaker’s immigrant mother, her journey to America from Czechoslovakia, and their shared experiences of precariousness living in a motel for thirteen years. Leave Nothing Behind is a documentary film that is deeper than a narrative of my mother’s life, the motel, and our relationship. The film exhibits the schisms and failures of the American dream, a hopeful vision that evidently turns into disappointment. It expresses the condemnation of women in systems, and patriarchal constructs that leave no room for us to progress and thrive. It illustrates the intimate and visceral relationship of mother and daughter within the family structure, while considering the notions of resignation and conflict.

2021; 56 min 

Sunday, June 6 – Program 2

In The Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand – Dimitris Bavellas (Athens, Greece)
Antonis and Christos are two friends who live in a small apartment in Athens. In distress and secluded from society, they survive mostly with Christos unemployment benefit. The two friends are also united by their common, platonic love interest for Laura Durand, a porn star of the ’90s who disappeared mysteriously several years ago. They also perform 8-bit music with their offbeat band named Speed_28. When things go from bad to worse, the friends decide that time has come to start the quest for Laura Durand. In Greek, subtitled. 2020; 98 min.


Friday, June 11 (Experimental Shorts)

Sometimes a little Sin is good for the Soul – Alex Beriault (Bremen, Germany)

Sometimes a little Sin is good for the Soul is an experimental short film that takes place within an architectural, almost painterly world. Interior structures, shapes and colours form together the unusual spaces within which three women are suspended. Somehow their actions and mobility remain bound to their surroundings, and time moves slower than the speed of life to underscore the strange conditions of these subjects. All the while, a glowing red “Exit” sign periodically reappears to tease and perturb its cold, taciturn surroundings, but no matter how often the sign reveals itself, it never points towards any clear way out. Digitized 16mm, 2020; 8 min.

My Strange Loop – Shaquille Galvan (Denver, Colorado)

In this exploration of the feeling of being overwhelmed, Sara, a Sisyphean figure, attempts to reach the end of a nightmarish hallway, but finds herself stuck in a strange loop. 2020; 12 min.

Amphibians – Drake Howard, Devin Finn (Austin, Texas)

Amphibians confronts two universal issues, race and gender. Myster must face the reality of his own dreams or be subjected to a never ending cycle of inauthentic truth. 2020; 12 min.

S T O P – Marieli Froehlich (Vienna, Austria)

We are all almost uninterruptedly exposed to countless unfiltered events, both near and far. Reflecting this kind of overwhelming situations the idea for STOP came up.  The project can be understood as an action of deceleration, a call for slowdown from a state of sensory overload, a flood of stimuli, that consequently leads to a restriction of our original perception.  Contemplation or meditation, an exercise that has had its place in all cultures, offers people the opportunity to experience oneness within themselves and further leads to a feeling of unity with their fellow men.  Referring to this project, people from all walks of life, of all ages, religions and race from around the world were and are invited, to take on a sort of meditative sleep state without preparation or artificial setting in their personal environment and stand still for a few minutes, allowing me to record them. During their brief pause the world keeps turning and the grass still grows. The participants are turning towards silence experiencing a gentle stillness spreading throughout themselves. The goal of that continuing project is to collect as many people as possible to participate in the experiment.  Experiencing the projection of an “entire world” of people in contemplation also creates a feeling of oneness and inclusion for the viewers. Division and prejudice, whether racial, religious, gender, class or political believes, are thus consequently eliminated in this moment. 2020; 16 min.

Frankston – Patrick Tarrant (London, England)

Frankston is a study of the place I grew up, a satellite of Melbourne, Australia with affordable housing, nature-strips and beach views. The downright ordinary nature of the opportunities and festivities afforded by Frankston, and the ambivalence one can feel going back there, nonetheless give rise to a new aesthetic: the suburban symphony. In this case the symphony is rendered in strange hues and luminescences as though affirming Robin Boyd’s depiction of ‘the Australian ugliness’ in 1960, where he claims that “taste has become so dulled and calloused that anything which can startle a response on jaded retinas is deemed successful.” 2020; 21 min.

Saturday, June 12 – Program 1

The Dark Odyssey – Michael Lavine (Germantown, New York)

In this clever stop motion animation, a brave captain and his faithful mate transport a captive warrior, who holds The Inventory of The Mind, across the interstellar line. When their ship is forced to navigate an asteroid field, their mission is jeopardized. 2021; 8 min.

Space Case – Zachary T Scott (Austin, Texas)

Space Case follows Bobbie Almond, a social outcast who has dreams to escape her small town life. She has a ticket to Mars! But when Bobbie’s ticket to a new life gets stolen by her super Preppy sister, she’s forced down a road of conformity, to be a part of the towns Beauty pageant! Will she conform? Or will she bail and follow her dreams! 2020; 18 min.

Paradise – Immanuel Esser (Cologne, Germany)

For the three workers of the company “Styx“ it is everyday business: living in the company van and driving overland to get from one place and time of death to the next – terminating people, packaging them and sending them off. They live a monotone life doing their daily chores for a society that developed a pain-free system for people’s passings. Suddenly, the three find themselves confronted with their own termination and start to question and bend the rules of their world. In German, subtitled. 2021; 80 min. 

Saturday, June 12 – Program 2

Supermalo – Matthew Seger (Brooklyn, New York)

To be jailed on a regular basis for the content of your art. To lack materials and colors for your vision. To be barred from art studios and venues because your art is not government sanctioned. These are some things that are unimaginable to a lot of artists, but something Fabian Hernandez has to go through everyday to continue making his art.  Cuban street artists are having their moment. Their own fight against the countries harsh censorship laws have recently made international headlines. Fabian is one of the movement’s fearless and prolific leaders. You cannot walk for more than a few blocks without seeing his character, the Supermalo or his signature 2+2=5? painted on the crumbling walls of Havana. Supermalo follows Fabian’s development as an artist over the course of two years. The film explores the struggles of creating work in his home country of Cuba and documents his first time ever leaving the island to exhibit his artwork internationally in Paris. In Spanish, subtitled. 2020; 15 min.

Into the Light – Benjamin Schwartz (New York, New York)
In the 1980’s Chuck Connelly was recognized as a key figure among the New York-based Neo-expressionist painters. This film captures Chuck at his essence: manically painting, smoking in a deteriorating claustrophobic home packed with over 5000 original works, and trying to overcome a lifetime of failures, regret, and missed opportunities. 2020; 74 min.

Sunday, June 13 – Program 1


Two Little People – Xin Li (Melbourne, Australia)

A beautiful animation focusing on two little people living together in a wheat field. 2021; 3 min.

Full Circle – Anne Via McCollough (Norfolk, Virgina)

Full Circle is a film that celebrates one woman’s triumph in conservation: the Great Gull Island Project, Helen Hays’ 50-year quest to save two species of threatened seabirds. During her long term study, she vastly increased the numbers of nesting Roseate and Common Terns on a small, uninhabited island in Long Island Sound.  The film reveals the nesting season of the terns up close – arrival, courtship, hatching, feeding, fledging – and highlights the myriad of volunteers fostered & inspired by Hays over the decades; her extensive collaboration with scientists in Argentina, Brazil and the Azores; and also her remarkable & heartwarming connection with a small fishing village on the north coast of Brazil.  Hays’ dedication has helped complete an important circle, not only in conservation efforts, but also in connecting people from all over the globe… people who were once strangers, are now friends & colleagues working together for a common cause. 2021; 76 min.

Sunday, June 13 – Program 2

The Process of Recovering – Nora Mandray, Jonathan Bulette (Santa Monica, California)

The Process of Recovering aims to answer a universal question: How do we cope with the bad things that happen to us? Marcia Wickham is an expert in this subject. This important film tells her story. It is the account of a woman’s journey from trauma to recovery. Over forty years, she overcomes childhood incest and escapes fundamentalist Christianity to achieve self- discovery and fulfillment. 2020; 79 min.

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