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Rachel Dretzin’s ‘Far From the Tree’ to Open Montclair Film Festival

Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke and Rachel Weisz are heading to New Jersey for the seventh annual Montclair Film Festival.

Kicking off on April 26 with Rachel Dretzin’s “Far From the Tree,” the 11-day fest will feature 77 feature films, 94 shorts and 13 special events including panels, master classes and public parties.

Highlights include favorites from the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto Intl. Film Festival and highly anticipated projects premiering this month at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Sundance hits including Hawke’s music biopic “Blaze,” Brett Haley’s “Hearts Beat Loud” and Morgan Neville’s docu “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” will all screen at MIFF. The regional fest will also host Sam Pollard’s “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” Kate Novack’s “The Gospel According to Andre,” and Sebastian Lelio’s “Disobedience” starring Weisz and Rachel McAdams. All three films made their world premiere at TIFF in September.

After debuting at Tribeca later this month, Netflix’s “Bobby Kennedy For President” and “The Rachel Divide” as well as CNN Films’ “Love, Gilda” will also screen at MFF.

Held in five venues in Montclair, N.J., 13 miles from New York City, the festival has been steadily growing in size and stature since launching in 2012. In the fest’s inaugural year 64 films screened and 7,500 people attended compared to this year’s 171 screenings and expected 25,000-plus attendees.

Montclair residents and longtime MFF supporters Stephen Colbert and Patrick Wilson will moderate discussions with Weisz, Hawke, Nick Offerman (“Hearts Beat Loud”) and MacArthur fellow Taylor Mac as part of the fest’s Storyteller Series. Although he doesn’t have a film in the fest, Jeff Daniels will also be in attendance to discuss his career and his latest project “Shadow of the Looming Tower” with Colbert.

Director Silas Howard and Danes will participate in a Q&A following a screening of their new film “A Kid Like Jake,” which debuted at Sundance earlier this year. Paul Schrader will also participate in a Q&A following a screening of his latest film, “First Reformed.” Starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried the film premiered in August at the Venice Film Festival.

The program will also feature the festival’s first annual StorySLAM, presented in partnership with Red Nose Day USA as well as a master class with screenwriter Richard Wesley.

“This year’s program speaks directly to the universal need for individuals and communities to connect with one another, to find and extend empathy,” Tom Hall, MFF executive director said in a statement. “We are honored to welcome a diverse array of artists to this year’s festival, and grateful to be able to share their stories, stories that challenge and engage, offering audiences the opportunity to come together, to exchange ideas, and to forge deeper and stronger bonds with one another.”

HBO’s docu “Believer,” about the Mormon Church’s LGBTQ stance will be the fest’s closing night film on May 5. Colbert will moderate a post screening Q&A with director Don Argott, producer Sheena Joyce and subject Dan Reynolds.

Competition winners in narrative, documentary, Future/Now and New Jersey film categories will be announced on May 5. The festival’s audience awards will be announced on May 8.

Below is the complete lineup of competition feature and short films in the 2018 festival program. The full lineup is on the fest’s site.

2018 FILM COMPETITIONS AND JURIES

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

BLACK MOTHER, directed by Khalik Allah
HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING, directed by RaMell Ross MAKALA, directed by Emmanuel Gras
SHIRKERS, directed by Sandi Tan
TRE MAISON DASAN, directed by Denali Tiller

FICTION FEATURE COMPETITION

BEAST, directed by Michael Pearce
DARK RIVER, directed by Clio Barnard
FIRST REFORMED, directed by Paul Schrader POROROCA, directed by Constantin Popescu WHO WE ARE NOW, directed by Matthew Newton

FUTURE/NOW COMPETITION

MADELINE’S MADELINE, directed by Josephine Decker NEVER GOIN’ BACK, directed by Augustine Frizzell
NOTES ON AN APPEARANCE, directed by Ricky D’Ambrose WE THE ANIMALS, directed by Jeremiah Zagar

WHEN SHE RUNS, directed by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

NEW JERSEY FILMS COMPETITION

The New Jersey Films competition this year focuses on non-fiction films directed, produced by, or featuring New Jersey talent.

306 HOLLYWOOD, directed by Elan Bogarin and Jonathan Bogarin
THE 5 BROWNS: DIGGING THROUGH THE DARKNESS, directed by Ben Niles CRIME + PUNISHMENT, directed by Stephen Maing
DARK MONEY, directed by Kimberly Reed
LIYANA, directed by Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp

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