Interview with Festival Director Albert G. Nigrin (New Jersey International Film Festival)

The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center proudly announces the 35th Bi-Annual New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2017. The Festival will be held on select evenings between September 15 and October 15, 2017 and will showcase the best in independent film by featuring premiere screenings and special guest appearances by film directors, screenwriters, cast and crew. For more information go to, call (848) 932-8482 or e-mail us at or!


 Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Albert G. Nigrin: Our Festival does a terrific job getting independent filmmakers the media/press attention and audience they deserve. Most filmmakers who are screened go out of their way to praise the great work that we do. And they love seeing their films on our huge screen and on our hi-def projection system.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

You would see enlightening and inspiring films that you couldn’t see any place else in the state of New Jersey as they are all premieres. You would also get to interact with over 20 visiting filmmakers who come from all over the world to present their films and do Q+As with the audience. 17 films will have their New Jersey or Area Premiere screenings as part of the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2017. Some of these include: Jeremy Bryant’s very edgy short film Hitchhiking with a .357 Magnum; Minwoo Song’s brilliant experimental film Greeting In The Afternoon; Fred Riedel and Jerry Friends documentary film about the making of Lee Ranaldo’s upcoming release — Hello Hello Hello : Lee Ranaldo : Electric Trim; Leslie Ann Coles’ Melody Makers — a rock-doc that traces the birth of rock n’ roll journalism in the 1960s; Goran Trenchovski’s The Golden Five — an intimate feature film from Macedonia about the bonds of friendship, tested by unacknowledged acts of betrayal; Sara Leavitt’s short documentary Riverkeeper about Captain Bill Sheehan who has dedicated his life to preserving and protecting the New Jersey Meadowlands; Scott Morris’s Saving The Great Swamp: Battle to Defeat the Jetport ­– a documentary about a successful grassroots effort to defeat a plan to build the world’s largest jetport on wetlands in the heart of New Jersey; Chiara Bellini’s Life by the Landfill — an inspiring documentary about a determined group of activists who took on the notoriously mismanaged system of trash collection in Rome, Italy; Jimmy Dinh’s hysterically funny and timely feature You Have A Nice Flight, Nurith Cohn’s amusing short film The Little Dictator; Jordna Horowitz’s surreal feature Painless; Sharon’s Chetrit’s surreal short from Israel Soup; and many others. This fall we will also be re-screening the films that were the Best of our Summer 2017 New Jersey International Film Festival. These include: First Bloom (Best Animation) , Kedi (Honorable Mention), The Ravens (Best Short), Emma (Best Feature), Passaic (Honorable Mention), and Levinsky Park (Best Documentary). There will be Free Food served at the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2017 except the shows on Thursdays prior to all the screenings courtesy of Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick! Visit our website for more info:

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

All works selected are screened by a panel of judges which included media professionals, journalists, students, and academics. Films are prescreened by 1st round judges and they basically weed the good films from the bad ones. We received over 370s for the current Fall 2017 New Jersey Film Festival and these judges selected about 100 films from these to be viewed by a final jury and they pick the finalists which are being publicly screened at our Festival. 17 finalists were selected for our Festival this Fall. All films viewed by the judges are scored from 1-10 with 10 being the highest. Films that receive 7s and higher for the most part were selected as finalists. Each piece is also scored with respect to the following categories: Originality, Creativity, Production Values, and Performances w/ the grades being Superior/Very Good/Good/Fair/Poor/NA. It is really very professionally run.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

All films are judged equally. Even the ones screened at 8AM get revisited by the jury to make sure they were given a fair shake. Also the fact that we have a two tiered judging process ensures that films are thoroughly examined. We also provide judges comments to any entrant who asks for them. The Festival judging process is, for sure, imprecise and I am certain many good films are not selected but that is the nature of the Festival process.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We do the NJFF to make sure indy films get seen in our state. The New Jersey Film Festival is one of the longest running Film Festivals in New Jersey. It is now in it’s 36th year and I founded it back in 1982. It has grown from a seat of the pants film program to one the state’s largest and most popular Film Festivals.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Pretty good. It was certainly necessary to give Withouabox some competition. Now there are so many submission platforms to choose from.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

The New Jersey Film Festival has gone through many different changes for a variety of reasons. It started as a revival program in the 1980s. Then we started doing 1st and 2nd run Art House films in addition to revival screenings due to the fact that our programs were growing and had more income to work, with. In the new millennium the Festival has transformed itself into a Festival which premiers Independent films in New Jersey. I expect the Film Festival to continue what we have been doing the last few years which is to help give a platform in New Jersey for indy films.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Bunuel/Dali’s Un Chien Andalou.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great film is one that you can watch endlessly and never get tired of it.

How is the film scene in your city?

Vibrant. It was pretty dead when I got to New Brunswick in 1980 but now it is considered the mecca for filmgoers in New Jersey.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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