Red Carpet Evening at Montclair International Film Festival’s Academy Awards-Themed Fundraiser
Oscar fever is all around. And Saturday night at The Clubhouse, supporters of The Montclair International Film Festival’s Academy Awards-themed fundraiser got a taste of Hollywood’s biggest spectacle the minute they set foot on the red carpet that was rolled out in front for the event.
Photographers were busy snapping the guests’ photos as they entered the club, on Glenridge Avenue, with smiling faces, ready to party.
Some well-known Monclair residents strolled down the crimson path including Steve Colbert with his wife Evie, and Channel Thirteen’s anchor/commentator, Steve Adubato.
The Clubhouse, two stories high with raw cinderblock walls, was donated for the fundraiser by Montclair resident Bobbi Brown of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and her husband, Steven Plofker. The airy, open space, with a floating staircase leading to the second floor, gave guests the opportunity to congregate in groups or to roam around and explore the venue. Mellow background music added to the laid back feeling of the gala.
On the second floor, film clips of this year’s Oscar nominated films were continuously shown in a screening room with huge, comfortable black leather chairs and bags of popcorn for munching.
An opportunity to win prizes for filling out an Oscar ballot was available to those who chose to vote. Prizes had movie themed names: first prize is “Ready for Your Close Up,” and is a gift of personal training, a trip to Vamp Hair Studio, and other goodies.
Second prize is called “Dinner and a Movie,” and includes dinner gift certificates and a few bottles of wine. “The Marty,” a gag gift, was named for one of cinemas most memorable losers. Top prize winners will be announced after the Oscars.
A big hit downstairs was the Candy Bar—a table stacked full of any kind of candy that you can buy at the flicks: M&M’s, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, you name it. Tiny cupcakes topped with candy stars were also in abundance. The plentiful supply of sweets was seriously depleted by the end of the night.
And ah, the food! Generous, delicious samplings including such treats as Pacific Salmon Cake, Braised Short Rib Ragu, Chicken Rollatini, and Curried Vegetable Pot Pie, catered by Tia’s Food of Love, were offered. Wine, beer, punch and soda were endlessly on tap. Donations for refreshments were made by many local restaurants. The price for the fete was a modest $65 per head.
Ten days before the event, Patch talked with Bob Feinberg, festival co-founder, in his kitchen while he chopped chicken, red peppers, and sliced fresh ginger to make a stir-fry dinner for his family. He was wearing an apron that had “cook” printed on it in small letters. He moved easily back and forth from the stove so that we could banter about the upcoming gala, the festival’s history, and it’s scope and purpose.
“The original idea of the event was conceived as a low dollar fundraiser that would be affordable to lots of people,” he said. “It was conceived to be a fun event.” The planners thought it should be like a big party with an Oscar theme since it was planned to take place the night before the Oscars,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg works as General Counsel at Channel Thirteen WNET. His colleague, John Servidio, is General Manager of Thirteen’s sister station, WL1W21 and is also a film editor.
Feinberg has lived in the township for 10 years. Servidio moved to Montclair a year ago. When Feinberg was showing Servidio around town, Servidio asked, “When is the film festival?” Although there has been a Montclair Film Festival in the past, there was nothing currently going on. The seeds of the Montclair International Film Festival were planted during their conversation.
“This is not a one day festival. It will go on all year in lots of different venues, with panels and film scholars. There was a Montclair Film Festival a while ago. It was a venue for filmmakers to show their films. It was not a community event, as this is. Frankly, I’m concerned that the economy is taking its toll on the artistic element that drew people here in the first place, especially with the arts council not here now,” said Feinberg.
Film categories he is anticipating having in the festival include documentaries, features, and shorts. “A lot of film festivals won’t show something unless the film is in a ‘fine cut’ which means it is almost finished, not a ‘rough cut’ which is a work in progress,” said Feinberg.
He explained that the festival will be accepting works in “rough cut” form. There will be a contest for the best films. The winner(s) will receive a monetary award to finish “not complete film(s).” Winners will be permitted to show their finished films at other festivals but will be asked to acknowledge the MIFF in the credits.
Students will be encouraged to participate. “One of the things we want to do is showcase new media which is financially inexpensive so that young people can shoot films without expensive equipment,” said Feinberg. With today’s powerful computers, handheld cameras, and video cameras on cell phones, affordable film editing software that can be used on a laptop (the most popular is called “final cut pro”) is available to young people without having to make a significant financial investment.
The festival’s board members are wonderful resources for its growth. Evie Colbert is one of the most active members. She has been supportive in helping plan events and in introducing Feinberg to other current board members. Through Colbert, Feinberg met Warren Ross who has lived in Montclair for 50 years. Ross was chairman of the Olympia Dukakis Theater Company. Other board members include Brian Clarkson, who is also on the board of the Papermill Playhouse, and Daniel Battsek, president of National Geographic films.
To find promising filmmakers, an artistic advisory committee will be established to provide suggestions in addition to those made by the festival’s board.
At this time, films will be screened at the Claridge Movie Theater, the festival’s storefront headquarters at 494 Bloomfield Avenue, and hopefully at Montclair State University.
Guests at the party enthusiastically shared their feelings about supporting the MIFF. Dan Simon, a Montclair resident said, “It’s a great event, an excellent mechanism to (get people) to come out for events and share ideas about something we have in common … film.” Dan, a physician, thinks it will draw people to Montclair who do not live here. Jonathan Schwartz (not the one from the radio, this one is a doctor) said, “It’s a happening town, let’s make it more happening.”
Amy Barnett, from Montclair, came because a couple of her friends are involved in the organization and because Montclair lost a lot of arts programs. “I worked in the music business before I had my kids. I came here because I thought it was the closest thing to being in New York City. I hope the festitval helps to bring the arts back to Montclair,” she said.
Board member Steve Adubato is very optimistic about the impact the festival will have on Montclair: “I think it’s the best thing you can do for the town. It’s the right group of people for this time,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
In May of 2012, there will be a major four- to five-day event with a variety of film experiences going on to be in synch with “Montclair in May.” In the meantime, monthly film events will be held by the festival.