Red Bank, a trendy and upscale hotspot on the Navesink River in Monmouth County, has always been known for its entertainment value. As the home of the Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater, the borough breathes the arts.
This is also why it has attracted the Indie Street Film Festival, which seeks to discover films and filmmakers who prove story is independent of budget, for the second year in the July 26 to 30 festival.
“There’s a really creative vibe in the town that has been growing,” said Jay Webb, co-founder of Indie Street and festival artistic director. “We try to take the vibe that’s already here and bring it to the forefront of the community to allow people to discuss films and the arts.”
The festival, which will feature more than 60 independently produced narrative, documentary and animated films, will also host panel discussions, Q&A’s with filmmakers and special events — with a true-to-Jersey twist.
“We try to keep the theme of the festival as story over budget,” said Webb, a Long Branch native. “New Jerseyans are proud of being resourceful, rugged and being able to take something that doesn’t seem like much and take it to the next level, and that’s what we look for in our filmmakers.”
New Jersey talent will be showcased, with about 20 films that have Jersey members, including the world premiere of “Brothers,” the latest work from Jack Ballo, who directed the critically acclaimed 2016 documentary “Destiny’s Bridge,” about the plight of a homeless community living off the grid in the woods of Lakewood, and “Magic Veal,” a dark comedy featuring Vincent Pastore, who played Big Pussy in “The Sopranos.”
Robert Mockler, East Windsor resident and director of “Like Me,” a “twisted coming-of-age story about a young woman who goes on a crime spree and posts it on social media,” will be one of the films showcased at the festival.
“Screening in Red Bank is kind of surreal for us (my producer and editing partner Jessalyn Abbott). We’d hang out there frequently,” he said. “We’d chill at Yestercades while dreaming about making movies, then we’d awkwardly shuffle through Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (store) and gawk. We couldn’t ask for a better place to have our New Jersey premiere.”
Other productions include the New Jersey premiere of “Unrest,” shot and directed by Jennifer Brea as she tackles the very personal subject of chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as “Life Hack,” a comedic cautionary tale about digital privacy or lack thereof.
Films and events will be held at multiple theatrical venues in Red Bank, including the Count Basie Theatre, the Two River Theater, Bow Tie Cinema and Red Bank Middle School for five-day all-access passes for $169, film-only passes for $99 or single-event tickets available at indiestreetfilmfestival.org.
What makes Indie Street Film Festival different, however, is that the focus on the arts stems beyond film. Instead, the festival will also integrate a community mural, a live art exhibition where this year, local artist Ronnie Jackson will carve out a surfboard, as well as a community cookout provided by Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen as documentary “Barbecue” is screened.
Following the festival on July 30, the Indie Street Film Festival Awards Ceremony will be held, in which winning films will be selected by a jury of noted film critics, producers and filmmakers and they will be awarded with one-week theatrical screenings in New York City and optional online distribution through Indie Street.
All feature films accepted into the festival are awarded the opportunity to join Indie Street as a partner filmmaker and be promoted through its VOD platform.
Indie Street is a platform that unites self-distributing filmmakers to share audiences, resources and company profits, and its home to award-winning members with honors from Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca film festivals. Indie Street also curates filmmaker content and helps discover filmmakers who implement innovative storytelling.
The festival, which expects to garner more than 3,000 attendees, operates as a discovery process for Indie Street in which they take submissions and volunteers, and filmmakers watch each film and nominate their top choices.
“In a world where there is a lot of studio-driven content, it’s really hard to find quality stories and independent products,” said Webb. “In my opinion, it’s very important to help people discover the new voices.”
Indie Street Film Festival
When: July 26 to 30
Where: Throughout Red Bank at locations including Count Basie Theatre, Two River Theater, Bow Tie Cinema and Red Bank Middle School
Tickets: Single-event tickets, $169 all-access passes and $99 film-only passes can be found at indiestreetfilmfestival.org