RED BANK: FESTIVAL SERVES FILMS & EVENTS

A portion of the colorful mural painted earlier this month on the Catherine Street wall of Kitch Organic heralds the second annual coming of the Indie Street Film Festival, co-founded by Jay Webb, below.

To Wanamassa resident Jay Webb, losing oneself in the flickering lights of a hushed, darkened room is only part of the joy of a film festival for cinephiles. Another is getting together and gabbing about what they’ve seen, and who’s doing what in an art form wholly dependent on collaboration.

Which is one reason the schedule for the second edition of the Indie Street Film Festival, which returns to Red Bank next week, is studded with community events in between screenings of some 60 films.

Red Bank artist Gerda Liebmann’s documentary “You Will Be Prosecuted,” shot in Thailand, is among the festival offerings. 

For example, there’s “Barbecue,” which the 35-year-old co-founder of the Indie Street filmmakers’ cooperative describes as “a documentary about how people from cultures all over the world gather around fire and cook meat, and what that means to them traditionwise.” The screening, scheduled for Thursday at Bow Tie Cinemas, will be held in conjunction with a cookout for festivalgoers in front of the White Street venue, with food supplied by JBJ Soul Kitchen.

As previously reported, the ISFF for the second year in a row also coordinated the creation of a community-made mural, this one at Kitch Organic on Leighton Avenue. (Last year’s was on Monmouth Street.)

“Last year, we found that community gatherings are our core,” Webb told redbankgreen. “That’s what the film screenings are meant to be: places where people can watch and then discuss voices they would never had heard before.”

Presented in conjunction with Red Bank RiverCenter, the 2017 ISFF kicks off at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the patio of the Count Basie Theatre with a cocktail reception highlighted by a display of original works by painter/ sculptor and surfboard carver Ronnie Jackson.

The screening schedule itself flickers to life at White Street’s Bow Tie Cinemas with the New Jersey premiere of festival-circuit standout Dave Made a Maze, a “hand crafted” future cult classic co-written and directed by Bill Watterson (not the creator of “Calvin and Hobbes”). A deftly hipsterized take on 1980’s-era adventure flicks, the feature stars Nick Thune as an under-achieving artist who literally gets lost in his work: an all-consuming cardboard fort/ maze/ fantasy realm into which his friends must enter on a peril-packed and wisecrack-wracked rescue mission.

The 7 p.m. screening is followed at 9 p.m. with an after-party for festival passholders, hosted at Gotham and featuring DJ Atom Worth.

While it serves as anchor venue for the festival, the Basie is one of a handful of local sites called into action for the July 26-through-30 affair. Also hosting various screenings, panels, workshops and happy hours are the Two River Theater on Bridge Avenue and the 400-seat auditorium of the Red Bank Middle School.

Passholders will have access to parties and other special events at Gotham, Jamians Food and Drink, and Buona Sera (including Sunday evening’s closing award ceremony) — while the local landmark Molly Pitcher Inn will host a filmmakers’ brunch event on the morning of July 30.

The roster of films was trimmed to 62, from last year’s 75, to reduce simultaneous screenings and competition for audiences, Webb said. Screenings will also be more centralized, with five films on Saturday running at the Two River Theater, where a “liquid lights” show will also be mounted. [Update: the original version of this post said that the band Dead Bank would be playing at that event, but the scheduling didn’t work out, we’re told.]

“This way, the whole community can kind of be there together,” Webb said. “You don’t have to pick and choose.”

At the heart of the ISFF are the films — a panorama of comedies, dramas and documentaries; feature-length and short-shorts, hailing from as far off as Oz and as close to home as our Jersey Shore back-beach. Of particular local interest are the Jersey Shorts programs of mini-masterworks by Garden State auteurs, with two separate noontime bills running on Saturday and Sunday at Bow Tie — followed at that same location by a Sunday world premiere screening of Brothers and a talkback with its director Jack Ballo, the “shoestring budget” documentarian best known for his acclaimed study of Lakewood’s Tent City homeless encampment, Destiny’s Bridge.

There’s much more to discover about the 2017 Indie Street Film Festival — and more to come here on redbankgreen as the week progresses. Meantime, take it here for complete details on the films, the parties and the ancillary events in ready-for-its-closeup Red Bank. Take it there as well to reserve tickets or purchase festival passes (note that many of the events are accessible only to passholders).

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