Sheila Cole
Sheila Cole, right, joins two others to help serve beverages at the festival last year. COURTESY MONTCLAIR FILM FESTIVAL


Sheila Cole, 64, of Montclair, volunteers for the Montclair Film Festival, and during the year, for Montclair Film. She began six years ago as a MFF volunteer, and two years ago decided to help with Montclair Film the rest of the year. She was in the field of education for 34 years and retired as an elementary school principal.

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Sheila Cole
Sheila Cole

How did you get involved with Montclair Film?
I attended the festival as a moviegoer. I liked the festival a lot, I haven’t been to others though to compare. Montclair is a unique town; lots of diversity. Steven Colbert, musicians and actors live in Montclair. [The town] has a unique flavor. Everyone is very friendly, directors are open to have discussions. It’s an intimate festival.

How much time do you spend volunteering?
I spend about an hour or two for each film for marketing. For this year’s films, I did eight, but it varies during the year. I also will help out with three to four shows this year. Last year, I helped with about five shows. I’m busier now than when I was working, but I enjoy what I do.

What are some of your volunteering duties?
I do online marketing for the Montclair Film to promote the films. I research articles on the film and develop a paragraph to catch people into wanting to go see it. I solicit advertising for the Montclair Film Festival catalog. During the festival and during the year I take tickets at films. I’m usually at the Clairidge [486 Bloomfield Ave.] or 505 [Cinema505, Montclair Film’s home-base at 505 Bloomfield Ave.] I also serve on the diversity committee and the community relations committee. The community relations committee makes partnerships with other organization in Montclair and the area community to sponsor films. Montclair Film makes a commitment to work with the diverse community of Montclair, making sure the films shown reflect the diversity of the people in Montclair.

What’s the most difficult part of your work?
Some [films] are harder to research — those that have not been released yet take longer; there are no articles or trailers or reviews to go by from other film festivals. It’s only the first or second time that a film did not have a trailer or a review to go by. I like to put something online that is not the description in the catalog, to get people interested in the movies.

What have you discovered while volunteering?
Last year’s film “Far from the Tree,” I probably would not have read the book or watched the film. It was a phenomenal film. As an educator I was able to appreciate it. Also there was a documentary on an autistic child last year that was amazing. There are so many thought-provoking films that make it special.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering?
My favorite part is being at the theater when the movies are shown. Directors, producers and actors are sometimes viewing the film. I’m able to meet them and have discussions with them. Also after the films, or after the Q&A, people have discussions and they are interesting.

Last year and this year, I won tickets for selling the most ads. [I will] go see “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.” [The featured film is showing Friday, May 10 at the Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St.]

How does your family/friends feel about your volunteering service?
My friends and cousins think that it is great that I have an inside scoop for the film festival. I make them aware of the films, highlight films [I think] they like to see. They say that I blow up their email, but they love it.

Do you do other volunteer work?
I serve on the board of directors for New City Kids in Paterson and their national board. Its an organization that provides an afterschool program for city kids. I also volunteer at Christ Church [68 Church St.], I’m a chaplain.

What do you do on your free time outside of volunteering?
I like to go to restaurants and eat, especially Italian food, but nothing unusual. I go to New York City a lot. I’m in a CSA [Council of Supervisors and Administrators] Union in New York and I’m going to a jazz concert in Harlem with them in a couple of weeks. I’m a retired CSA member.

I also exercise at the Montclair YMCA every day; five days a week.


Read: Volunteer Spotlight: Allison Sargent finds blessings in helping the needy


For information on the MFF, visit Montclair Film at