Inaugural SOMA Film Festival Announces Schedule

by The Village Green
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The following is from SOPAC:

The SOMA Film Festival is proud to announce an incredibly strong and diverse schedule of films during its inaugural presentation Feb 12-16, 2016 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Feature length films, documentaries and shorts share the stage in a dazzling array of subjects and filmmakers. Films with Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo (Mother’s Day – Short) and Emmy Award-winner, the late, great Albert Maysles with his final documentary feature In Transit —that was also an Official Tribeca Film Festival selection — are highlights that film enthusiasts won’t want to miss.

Sharing the screen with the aforementioned film legends will be the American premieres of Haze and Godless by up and coming young filmmakers David Burkman, and Joshua Lim, as well as an Australian feature named Broke, which will be released nationwide in both Australia and New Zealand on April 3rd of this year.

Other highlights include Proud Citizen by Thomas Southerland that was the winner of both the New Orleans and Florida Film Festivals, the quirky comedy Odd Brodsky by Cindy Baer, and a stunning short on musical legend Hamell on Trial.

SOMA Film Festival will also feature a “local filmmakers” program that highlights South Orange and Maplewood filmmakers and actors, Seton Hall University students, and in collaboration with CinemaEd (a non-profit, education based film and media company) an exciting look at the filmmakers of tomorrow.

“From the beginning our goal was to present a strong slate of films that would make SOMA feel like a veteran film festival and I am confident we’ve achieved that” says festival director Matt Smollon.  “We are really excited about the quality of entries for our first year, and we know that film lovers will find lots of thought-provoking work during the weekend of screenings.”

With 11 feature films, and over 20 short films, SOMA Film Festival will be an enticing way to spend the weekend, and will bring pride to a community that bears its name.

 Two-day passes for the screenings on Feb 13-14 are $45-$55, and an opening night party on Feb 12 is $20 additional. For a complete schedule and to purchase passes visit or call the SOPAC box office at (973) 313-2787.

The SOMA Film Festival is a program of the South Orange Performing Arts Center.


Saturday FEB 13

10:00 am

HAMELL ON TRIAL – “ARTIST IN AMERICA” – Documentary Short – Runtime 17:00

Directed by: Vic Campos

An inside look at legendary NYC Musician/Artist/Punk Poet/Anti-Folk hero Hamell on Trial who has defied any easy categorization in a career that is now entering its 30th year.

IN TRANSIT – Documentary Feature – Runtime 1:24:00

Directed by: Albert Maysles

In Transit takes you on a journey into the hearts and minds of passengers aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in America. As the Empire Builder crisscrosses the country, passing through urban centers, oil fields, vast plains and towering mountains, a loving portrait of America emerges, in its full human and natural beauty.

15 Minute Break


MOTHER’S DAY – Narrative Short – Runtime 6:37

Directed by: Jeff Tan

Tragedy forces a mother and son to say goodbye forever, starring Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo.

RED THUNDER – Narrative Short – Runtime 6:26

Directed by: Alvaro Ron

Sarah (Allie Grant, “Weeds”), a nerdy teenager, needs her mom’s brand new car to go on a date with Danny but little does she know the vehicle is actually part of a secret her mom keeps and this discovery will change Sarah’s life forever.

THE THERE – Narrative Short – Runtime 9:19

Directed by: Scott Cobb

Two women friends clash in a drained out pool where one seeks to win the other’s renewed companionship by showing her a film she made of an important incident in their lives.

BROKE – Narrative Feature – Runtime 1:33:00

Directed by: Heath Davis

A disgraced sports star earns a second chance through the support of his number one fan.

15 Minute Break


PACT: A DAY IN THE LIFE – Documentary Short – NJ Filmmaker – Runtime 14:09

Directed by: John Bynum

Follow a day in the life of Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton’s PACT Team, a group of social workers that work with the mentally ill of Trenton, NJ.

ALMOST THERE – Documentary Feature – Runtime 1:33:00

Directed by: Aaron Wickenden and Dan Rybicky

For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare but for the filmmakers his home is a treasure trove, a startling collection of unseen and fascinating paintings, drawings, and notebooks, not to mention Anton himself.

30 Minute Break


A BOX CAME TO BROOKLYN – Narrative Short – Runtime 26:19

Direct By: Jason Cusato

A life-long Brooklynite struggles to convince his neighbors that a mysterious box left in the middle of their street doesn’t prove one of them is a dangerous terrorist.

GODLESS – Narrative Feature – Runtime 1:29:00

Directed by: Joshua Lim

After the death of their parents, two brothers’ unrelenting love for each other threatens the secret affair they had buried.

15 Minute Break


VIDEO – Narrative Short – Runtime 14:56

Directed by: Randy Yang – Narrative Short

Two teenage African-American girls capture a woman’s racist remark on video and hard decisions need to be made on what to do with the content.

HAZE – Narrative Feature – Runtime 1:46:00

Directed by David Burkman

A college freshman’s desire to join the best fraternity on campus is dampened when a pledge is killed in a brutal hazing incident, this film presents a realistic account of fraternity hazing, exploring the essential nature of friendship and family, and the sadistic lengths to which the young will go to belong.


Sunday FEB 14

10:00 am – Local Filmmakers Program

BARTLEBY – Narrative Short – Runtime – 12:00

Directed by: Gerard Amsellem

A word processing operator joins a small law office and forever changes the lives of those around him just by doing one thing: nothing.

DINNER TIME – Narrative Short – Runtime 7:51

Directed by: Matthew Borrello – Seton Hall Student

A goofy young man desperately tries to resupply the freezer before his intimidating sister returns home. However, there are endless interruptions that prevent Nathan from reaching his goal.

REMEMBER – Short Documentary – Runtime 6:32

Directed by: Brian Neff

The film uses the makeshift memorial at the site of the 2015 East Village gas explosion to present a short meditation on the tension between our desire to pay homage to the memories of those we have lost and the conflicting pull of daily life.


Presented by: Cinema Ed – Runtime 30:00

SOME KIND OF SPARK – Feature Documentary – Runtime 1:25

Directed by: Ben Niles

We follow seven inner-city kids from New York City as they embark on a life-changing experience, the opportunity to study music at the Juilliard School of Music.

15 Minute Break


MAX – Narrative Short – Runtime 6:13

Directed by: Rajesh Naroth

Some decisions are tough as we see through the eyes of a very challenging day in the life of Annette Davis.

L’ENCENEDOR QUÀNTIC – Narrative Short – Runtime 5:08

Directed by: Pau Escribano

How can we prove that we actually time-traveled?  A young couple will soon find out.

BLACK BALLOON – Narrative Short – Runtime 12:00

Directed by: Shachar Gal

Amit and Sol wake up in an abandoned building bound tight to chairs. Someone has organized a cruel and surreal birthday party—and they are the guests-of-honor.

TEXTING: A LOVE STORY – Narrative Short – Runtime 8:02

Directed by: Rani Crowe

A funny look at love, intimacy, and connection in the digital age.

PROUD CITIZEN – Narrative Feature – Runtime 1:25:00

Directed by: Thomas Southerland

After winning second place in a play-writing contest, Bulgarian Krasimira Stanimirova travels to Kentucky for the premiere of her autobiographical, Communist-era play ‘Black Coat.’ Expecting southern hospitality, Krasi instead finds herself isolated and lonely as she explores America on foot. Proud Citizen is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking meditation on disappointment, traveling, the comfort of strangers and the joy of funnel cakes.

15 Minute Break


GEORGE SAUNDERS ON STORY – Short Documentary – Runtime 7:15

Directed by: Sarah Klein and Tom Mason – Local Filmmakers

In this rare appearance as a documentary subject, George Saunders reveals the pitfalls of bad storytelling and explains the openness and generosity required to breathe life into great characters.

SAVE THE BEES – Short Documentary – Runtime 2:17

Directed by: Marta Topolska

Short animation shows how important bees are in our environment.

HANK, HARE SCRAMBLE, ODESSA, NEW YORK – Short Documentary – Runtime 3:20

Directed by: Rebecca Soderholm

Hank is left to fend for himself during a hare scramble as his parents help young racers through a mud hole.

AMONG THE BELIEVERS – Documentary Feature – Runtime 1:24:00

Directed by: Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi

Produced by: Jonathan Goodman Levitt and Hemal Trivedi

Charismatic cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi, an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, is waging jihad against the Pakistani state. His dream is to impose a strict version of Shariah law throughout the country, as a model for the world. With unprecedented access, Among the Believers follows Aziz on his very personal quest to create an Islamic utopia, during the bloodiest period in Pakistan’s modern history.

15 Minute Break


STILL – Narrative Short – Runtime 6:15

Directed by: Brian Cohen

Echo and Alana’s benighted sentiments on terrorism are challenged when they are confronted with a life and death situation.

THE LINGERIE SHOW – Narrative Animated Short – Runtime 8:15

Directed by: Laura Harrison

Drug-addict Lorraine and her boyfriend Caesar are having a nightmarish 24 hours until Lorraine calls up her sister, CiCi, for help.

ODD BRODSKY – Narrative Feature – Runtime 1:33:00

Directed by: Cindy Baer

Audrey Brodsky is a lovable loser who hates her job. After 11 years she finally quits and sets off to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an actress! There’s just one problem: she’s not very good at it. But what she lacks in talent, she makes up for in heart. When she meets an aspiring cameraman, the adventure of her life finally begins.

30 Minute Break


THE ARTIFACT – Narrative Short – Runtime 8:20

Directed by: Aaron Kamp

A kidnapped archaeologist guards a treasure worth dying for.

COMPLETELY NORMAL – Narrative Feature – 1:29:00

Directed by: Robert Vornkahl

Greg is a hopeless romantic who’s sincere yet awkward affections are a little too much for most “normal” girls. Gwen is an average New York City maid: she likes yoga, artisanal coffee and heavy metal music, and she just happens to suffer from multiple personality disorder. After another failed relationship, and some really terrible fatherly advice, Greg spots Gwen on the subway and instantly falls in love with her from afar.

* Program subject to change without notice.


About SOMA Film Festival

The SOMA Film Festival is dedicated to presenting unique, and aspiring filmmaking from around the world. SOMA is an acronym for South Orange and Maplewood, two towns that are a short train ride from New York City and that pride themselves on artistic expression. It is home to numerous actors, actresses, filmmakers, cinematic and theatrical professionals.

These two unique communities invite filmmakers into an environment where they can show their work to a highly receptive audience who both appreciate their creative endeavors and understand first-hand the immense effort it takes to make a dream come true.

In addition to Matt Smollon, Festival Founder, an advisory committee of actor John Michael Higgins, writer/director Steven Kampmann, President of Grasshopper Films Ryan Krivoshey, documentary filmmaker Ben Niles, actress Christianne Noll and NY Latino Film Festival Director Elizabeth Gardner Potter have helped to shape the Film Festival in its inaugural year.


SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3)charitable organization.

Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages.  To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory.  SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N’ the Hall performances and Seton Hall Theatre productions.  SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in residence, Midtown Direct Rep, and its dance company in residence, Lydia Johnson Dance.  For more information, visit


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