There will also be celebrities, parties, and a cultural celebration the city hopes will rival festivals held across the Hudson River.
"This is a great feather in the Hoboken cap [that] I know will be a major success," said Mayor David Roberts last week. "Hoboken is the most culturally rich and artistically influenced cosmopolitan city in the state of New Jersey. I'm very happy [the festival] is here."
The event will be held at locations in Stevens Institute of Technology as well as Pier A Park and Sheraton Suites at the Hudson hotel in Weehawken. It will screen nearly 70 films before culminating in a Gala Awards Ceremony on Thursday June 7 at Stevens Institute's DeBaun Auditorium.
The festival was brought to Hoboken by filmmaker and attorney Kenneth Del Veccio, a former resident who had previously hosted a film festival in Hackensack before deciding to move his operation to the mile-square city. "Hoboken is nationally recognized as the artistic capital of New Jersey. Our goal is to make [The Hoboken International Film Festival] one of the most important cultural events in the world," said Del Vecchio. "This festival will include some of the edgiest films around, films that people aren't going to see anywhere else. [The festival] will be the first of many in Hoboken, becoming an annual tradition that attracts people from across the country for many years to come."
Typically, independent filmmakers send their projects to festivals in order to compete for awards, thus granting them bigger exposure and the chance to reach Hollywood.
In addition to hosting an array of films, the festival will include a question and answer session with actor/singer Danny Aiello and panel discussions with the filmmakers after most of the presentations.
The festival also will be awarding legendary actor Charles Durning with its 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award during the festival's Gala Award Ceremony.
Sponsors of the event include The Hudson Reporter, New York Waterway and W-CBS amongst others.
Participants in the contest will compete in 14 categories, including Best Feature, Best Actor/Actress, and Best Screenplay. The competition will be judged by a celebrity jury consisting of Academy and Emmy Award winning performers and production staff.
A $1,000 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of the Best Feature Film, with the majority of the other winners receiving prizes of $500.
Of the nearly 2,000 films that were submitted in this year's competition, approximately only 55 were accepted for the competition, according to Del Vecchio, who viewed about 500 films himself.
Del Vecchio added that every film entered was viewed by at least three individuals on the 20-member screening committee.
Thirteen of the films that are being shown at the festival were not entered into the contest. An example is Del Veccio's own Polycarp, a psychological thriller that includes in the cast Durning and Hoboken Police Captain Anthony Falco Sr.
Tickets to attend the showings cost $9 and can be purchased at several locations around town, all of which are included on the film festival's Web site at www.hobokeninternationalfilmfestival.com.
How it came about
After producing the New Jersey International Film and Screenplay Festival in Hackensack in May of 2006, Del Vecchio decided to relocate the event. He had received offers from municipalities throughout the state, including Newark and Atlantic City, before deciding on Hoboken, which he said was an easy choice.
Having lived in Hoboken from 1997 to 1998 and being a native of Hudson County, Del Vecchio recalled the energy, culture, and tradition that defined the town.
This, along with the courting of Falco, who is a film producer, led to the creation of the festival. "[The festival] will bring a multitude of benefits to the city," said Falco. "[It's] bringing people in the [independent film] industry to Hoboken that have never been here before, and over time, when word gets around, you'll see more established people in the industry coming to Hoboken."
Falco is the city's film liaison and a festival commissioner, and will be one of the judges on the panel. Falco is joined on the panel by Emmy Award winning actress Eileen Fulton, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning producer Richard Barclay, critically acclaimed director B.J. Davis, MTV Casting Director Michael Petolino, daytime television stars Sonia Satra and Ed Fry, boxing attorney Michael Borao, actor Brandon Slagle, Hoboken Director of Cultural Affairs Geri Fallo, Del Vecchio, and his wife Francine, who is a screenwriter and professor at Columbia University.
Film festivals and Hoboken
Over the years, Hoboken has played host to several film festivals.
One was the Hoboken Film Festival that debuted in 1988 and was held in Maxwell's before being renamed the Hudson County Film Festival the following year. From 1989 through 1993, the festival was held first at the Shannon Lounge and later at the former Renegade Theatre Company, which was located in the area of 10th and Madison streets.
In 1994, the festival was renamed, for the last time, the New Jersey Independent Film & Video Festival. A major sponsor for the event was Projected Images, a non-profit organization created 20 years ago by Fallo to bring alternative films to Hoboken residents.
Another film festival that featured international films and used Hoboken as a backdrop was the Back East Picture Show, which was held in 2002 and 2003 at the former Hudson Street Cinemas, which closed two years ago.
For more information, check out www.hobokeninternationalfilmfestival.com. Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com.