rb indie film mural 070416A mural on Monmouth Street near Maple Avenue touts the five-day Indie Street Film Festival, which flickers to life Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

indie street logo 2For the first time since 2007, Red Bank will swarm with screening maniacs this week as independent films, filmmakers and cinephiles invade the downtown — and one or two nearby outposts.

Encompassing nearly 100 feature-length and short films, four screening venues and a handful of bars and restaurants, the five-day Indie Street Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, promising to liven up a post-Independence Day interval when the borough traditionally slips into an early doldrums.

The trailer for “65 percent,” a documentary by Middletown brothers Mike and Jon Altino. Below, comedian Lisa Lampanelli will perform live at the Basie following a screening of “Can’t We Take a Joke?” a documentary in which she appears.

lisa-lampanelli-2016Presented by the Indie Street Institute in partnership with primary sponsor the Count Basie Theatre, the festival is the first by a filmmakers’ cooperative founded by a crew that includes Jay Webb, a 34-year-old film producer and Ocean Township resident.

It’s an ambitious attempt not only to rekindle the spirit of the much-missed Red Bank International Film Festival, which went dark nine years ago, but to supercharge the concept with a day-and-night slate of happenings. They include highly anticipated premieres, discussion panels, competitions, award ceremonies, after-parties, and a film-related live comedy concert that offers up the local debut of insult/roast comedy’s reigning “Queen of Mean,” Lisa Lampanelli.

“We’ve been talking about some sort of festival to distribute content and bring attention to this model,” Webb told redbankgreen when the event was announced in February. “Red Bank has the infrastructure. Really, the town is a beautiful fit for this type of event.”

Describing itself as “world’s first co-op distribution brand… a video-on-demand platform that unites the most talented self-distributing filmmakers to share audiences, resources, and company profits,” Indie Street will host screenings at the Basie, the Two River Theater; at Bow Tie Cinemas on White Street; and, just beyond the fringe of downtown, in the auditorium at Red Bank Middle School on Harding Road.

Borough bars and restaurants, including the Downtown, Jamian’s Food and Drink, 10th Ave. Burrito, Gotham and the Belmonte will get into the act as the sites of various festival-related side events. Even the parking lot at the Molly Pitcher Inn will be put to use.

Among the highlights:

• A hit at the most recent Sundance festival, Chad Hartigan’s “Morris from America” opens the fest at 7 p.m. Wednesday with Craig Robinson (“The Office,” “Hot Tub Time Machine”) as the father of an African-American teen whose coming-of-age plays out in the alien landscape of Germany.

•  “After Sandy,” a documentary directed by Joe Minnella of Tinton Falls on the struggles of Jersey Shore residents attempting to put their lives back together in the wake of the epic superstorm — will show at 4 p.m. Friday, at Two River Theater.

•  On Saturday at 1 p.m., Middletown brothers Mike and Jon Altino will screen “65 Percent,” the documentary they produced and directed about another pair of brothers facing a health crisis.

•  There’s even a world premiere of a big indie: “Chosen,” scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday at Bow Tie, nearly a month prior to its August 2 release by Lions Gate Pictures. Directed by Jasmin Dizdar and starring Harvey Keitel, the film tells “the story of a Hungarian citizen whose courage alters the course of World War II as he unwittingly becomes a leader of the opposition and discovers the hero deep within himself.”

A late addition to the festival schedule, the drama replaces the originally announced screening of the new Kevin Smith feature “Yoga Hosers,” which was withdrawn due to a scheduling conflict.

 More than 50 short films from more than a dozen countries — including entries directed by actor Matthew Modine and New Jersey’s own Danny De Vito — will be screened during the course of the festival.
Also on tap are handfuls of short documentariesnarrative shortsanimated shorts and even an hour’s worth of Saturday morning cartoons, aptly scheduled for Saturday morning at the middle school.

An unusual “Indie Under the Stars” free public screening, presented by Sony Pictures Classics and its co-founder Tom Bernard of Middletown, will take place Thursday night outside the Molly Pitcher Inn. Film fans will select the featured entertainment from a field of five Sony Classics titles (“Welcome To The Dollhouse,” “SLC Punk,” “The Wackness,” “Moon,” “Junebug”) by casting their vote on the event’s Facebook page.

Also planned: a live art show by Rob Prior, hosted by Ming & Mike of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the Broad Street shop that’s the centerpiece of AMC’s “Comic Book Men.” Saturday Morning Cartoons

Take it here for a detailed schedule of events with showtimes, locations and links to festival pass admissions or individual event tickets. Passes range in price from $149-$849 and include opening- and closing-night festivities, allotments of film tickets and access to after-parties and social events, panels and workshops, plus discounts at local Red Bank businesses. For more info on the Indie Street Film Festival, contact

And check in with redbankgreen daily for detailed schedules and boatloads of movie trailers.