By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
for Montclair Local
“Cut!” When a film director yells the word, it signals the end of a take. But for Montclair Film Festival lately, it has meant the start of the action. Last week, the nonprofit cut “festival” from its name, to signify its identity as a year-round organization, and cut the ribbon on its new home at 505 Bloomfield Ave.
“Wow! This is a terrific hit for Montclair,” said Township Councilman Bob Russo at the ribbon-cutting Thursday, March 30. “The whole town loves the festival and they are going to love this beautiful facility.”
Almost exactly two years ago, in May 2015, Investors Bank donated an empty old bank building across from the Clairidge Theater to support the festival, which had originally come into existence after a meeting of local arts people in the kitchen of Stephen and Evelyn Colbert.
The sixth annual Montclair Film Festival, now a sprawling and prestigious event, will open on Friday, April 28, and run through Sunday, May 6. The festival will continue to operate in a variety of venues around town, including movie theaters, the Wellmont Theater, and school theaters. The first screening at Cinema505, a cozy multi-purpose space inside the new building called the Investors Bank Film and Media Center, will be on Saturday, April 29, with a restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 “Stalker.”
“The opening of our new building comes just in time for the launch of this year’s festival,” said Bob Feinberg, the founder of Montclair Film and chairman of its board of directors, at the ribbon-cutting. He said he and others had always envisioned a permanent home for the nonprofit.
The gift of the bank building offered the opportunity for a redesign of a structure that had fallen into disrepair. The new center incorporates the bank’s original high ceilings, massive vault and industrial elements in unique ways, said Design Architect Rachael Grochowski. “From a ‘magical’ ticket booth to focused classrooms, I couldn’t be more excited to see how this space acts as a place to bring community together.”
Bob Silver of Montclair’s The Bravitas Group said the new space is the product of creative collaboration among Montclair Film staff and volunteers, the architects, designers and “many talented tradespeople.”
As fundraising continues to pay off the construction loan for the new building, Montclair Film will begin moving in equipment for its new filmmaking studio, classrooms and sound room, said Montclair Film’s capital fundraiser, Warren Ross: “We hope and — well, we know — the community and its establishments will continue to support this gem of a project and our beloved festival.”