Live, interactive versions of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will return to Montclair Oct. 30. (20th Century Fox ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ trailer)

By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

Montclair Film has announced its initial screening lineup for the 10th Annual Montclair Film Festival — and the return of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” to Montclair.

The in-person festival will take place from Oct. 21 through 30, despite damage Montclair Film’s offices sustained when Ida swept through the northeast and flooded many Montclair streets earlier this month.

The “Rocky Horror” performance will be at Clairidge Cinemas, which Montclair Film is reopening after the theater shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic under then-manager Bow Tie Cinemas. The Clairidge wasn’t seriously damaged, Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall has told Montclair Local. 

All audience members must be fully vaccinated and masked to attend the festival’s in-person screenings.

  • The festival will open on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” at the Wellmont Theater. The film stars Benicio Del Toro, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Timothée Chalamet, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright and Owen Wilson. It tells the story of a group working to publish “The French Dispatch,” a fictional magazine. The screening is co-presented by Investors Bank. 
  • On Friday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. the Wellmont Theater will screen Jeymes Samuel’s “The Harder They Fall,” the festival’s fiction centerpiece. The Netflix release is described as a “new school western,” and stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield.
  • On Friday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. will be an outdoor screening of the animated film “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” at Lackawanna Plaza, as the festival’s family centerpiece. The film follows the Mitchell family driving their daughter to college when electronic devices try to take over the world.
  • On Saturday, Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. at the Wellmont, in partnership with Out Montclair, will be “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” a documentary about the life of New Jersey native artist Warwick. The documentary, the festival’s nonfiction centerpiece, follows Warwick’s life and career, and her work as an advocate for AIDS research. Warwick and director Dave Wooley will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. 
  • On Saturday, Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School will be Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dogs,” the festival’s closing film. It follows two brothers, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons, as they run their family ranch together in 1925 Montana. The film is also presented in partnership with Out Montclair. 
  • And that night, at 9 p.m. at the Clairidge, will be “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with the live debut of The Ordinary Kids Floor Show, formed in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. The Ordinary Kids and Montclair Film will be launching The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a monthly film event at The Claridge, according to Montclair Film. Montclair Film signed a long-term agreement with Clairidge building owner Dick Grabowsky to operate the six-screen art house cinema earlier this year.
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Live performances of Rocky Horror had a longtime presence in Montclair. From 2003 through 2017, Home of Happiness presented its interactive version at the Bellevue Theatre on Saturday nights (and had been at the now-closed The Screening Zone prior to that), but the Montclair performances ended when Bow Tie Cinemas closed the Bellevue (it, too, is slated to reopen under new management). Home of Happiness currently performs at Bergenfield Cinemas in Bergenfield on the first and third Saturday of every month, and held its first performance at the venue Sept. 18.

The full 2021 Montclair Film Festival line-up, along with its full COVID-19 protocols for the festival, will be announced on Sept. 24. Tickets will go on sale on Sept. 27 for Montclair Film members, and for the public on Oct. 1. More information will be posted at montclairfilm.org.

A previous version of this post incorrectly said the Home of Happiness version of Rocky Horror is currently performed in Ridgewood; that production was previously in Ridgewood, but has since moved to Bergenfield Cinemas.