It seems that no sooner had the last of the popcorn been swept after the recent Indie Street Film Festival than another weekend-long celebration of independent cinema prepared to unspool in Red Bank, the town that Nicholas Marchese calls “the arts mecca of Monmouth County.”
A twenty-something resident of Holmdel and a multitasking moviemaker in his own right (his 2015 feature My Brother’s Girlfriend filmed on Red Bank locations that included the Dublin House and Riverside Gardens), Marchese founded the Monmouth Film Festival last year as a “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” gathering with a clear indie mission and strong sense of locale. While the festival that returns to Two River Theater this weekend for its sophomore edition doesn’t necessarily focus upon homegrown projects, it has as its centerpiece a buzzed-about feature with an unassailable amount of Monmouth cred.
Produced by a United Kingdom-based company and directed by Scottish filmmaker Christopher Downie, Shooting Clerks tells a stranger-than-fiction story revolving around how a Bayshore kid named Kevin Smith turned a friends-and-neighbors indie comedy into a mega-cult career as a Philosopher King of Most Media (in the process transforming a slightly seedy convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey into a Lourdes-level site of pilgrimage). The 2016 narrative feature has been screened at numerous festivals (some with Smith acting as live bonus feature), and takes to the Two River screen on Sunday.
While a cast of young unknowns portrays Smith and his Clerks contemporaries, the man himself appears with fellow cast veterans Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Walt Flanagan (Woolen Cap Smoker / Egg Man / Offended Customer / Cat-Admiring Bitter Customer) — as well as comic book men Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen — in some of the film’s more, ahem, mature supporting roles. The black and white biopic — which, if anything, is just as paleo-raw as the original it pays homage to — is close to selling out as we post this, so take it to the festival website or Facebook page for updated info.
There’s plenty more on tap during the filmfest that commandeers the auditorium and atrium of the Two River building, beginning with a 7 p.m. networking event on Friday, August 11. It all happens just eight months after the inaugural Monmouth Film Festival, which set up shop for a mid-December stand in 2016, and the full schedule goes something like this:
FRIDAY, August 11
7 p.m. — Networking event
SATURDAY, August 12
11 a.m. — Shorts Block A
1:15 p.m. — THE BLOOD IS AT THE DOORSTEP A documentary feature that examines how the Milwaukee shooting death of Dontre Hamilton sparked the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how one midwestern urban community pushed back against excessive police force.
3 p.m. — Shorts Block B Includes exclusive showings of Vasily Chuprina’s The Boy by the Sea and Greg Buarcker’s The Archivist.
5:15 p.m. — Industry Film Panel Aspiring filmmakers are welcomed to join panel of “special, esteemed guests” (including John Green, executive producer of special programming at ABC News) in a discussion of indie film — how to finance, produce and complete your project and how to get it on the screen.
7:15 p.m. — LEMON Brett Gelman stars with Nia Long and Michael Cera (who showed up in Person to Person at the recent Indie Street filmfest) in Janiczka Bravo’s comedy about the travails of a struggling actor.
9 p.m. — THE STRANGE ONES Two vacationing brothers are surrounded by a series of mysterious events as they travel across America, in this festival exclusive feature film screening.
SUNDAY, August 13
11 a.m. — Shorts Block C
1:15 p.m. — WINDOW HORSES Subtitled The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming, the animated film from director Ann Marie Fleming is a feature in which “forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding are at the center of this incredible journey.”
3 p.m. — Shorts Block D Includes exclusive showings of Alexa Werrlein’s Tiny Worlds.
5:15 p.m. — SHOOTING CLERKS
7:30 p.m. — Awards ceremony