Friday, October 9, 2015

Documentary on Plight of Downtrodden Town Sparks Comparisons to A.C.

The plight of Atlantic City is not unique. In North Adams, Mass., a factory town that had fallen on hard times, the creation of a large museum of modern contemporary art in a shuttered factory, was considered a way to jump start economic redevelopment. The path travelled by the town is chronicled in Farewell to Factory Towns?”, a 61 minute documentary directed by Maynard Seider, which will have a free pre-festival screening Oct. 15 at Dante Hall.
            The film will be followed by a panel discussion to weigh whether the experience in North Adams bears some relevance to Atlantic City’s misfortunes of late. The panel includes Dr. Jane F. Bokunewicz, Assistant Professor of  Hospitality at Stockton; Brian Tyrrell, Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Stockton; and Freeholder Alex Marino, who is also Assistant to the Provost and Director/Carnegie Center at Stockton.
            "I wrote the script and directed the film and received a great deal of help from a skilled editor, wonderful narrator, and local musicians, one of whom wrote a new piece for the film ("Mill Town Waltz")," Seider said.  "It's my first film and simply grew out of my experiences and concerns."
            Billed as an engine of economic development, the museum did not produce the number of jobs and new businesses anticipated and the city’s downtown is semi-deserted. The film argues that national policy must change and that vibrant unions and social movements are needed to bring about a new ‘New Deal’ to deal with the social and economic crisis facing U.S. cities today.
            “I taught at the state college in North Adams for 32 years, knew the city's industrial history and worried that the museum would not be the answer for the jobs that young and middle-aged residents needed," Seider said.  "I was well aware of what the New Deal meant nationally, and locally, and given the financial crisis we're still in, argue that what is needed in former factory towns and for the nation as a whole is a new `New Deal.’"  
            What makes this so topical for Atlantic City is the path the mill town took.
Could a mill closing equate with the tourism industry decline in Atlantic City decades ago, with the museum representing the same promise as casino gaming as an economic engine.
            “Farewell to Factory Towns?” will screen at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at Dante Hall. Admission is free. Director Seider will be in attendance. Ned Eckhardt, retired Rowan professor in the film school, will moderate the panel discussion afterwards.
            The festival will serve up a mix of comedy, drama, horror and science fiction, narrative and documentary. “A Rising Tide” will open the festival at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16 at Dante Hall, 14 N. Mississippi Avenue. New Jersey-based author, Irv Slifkin, writer of Filmadelphia, hosts a guided video tour of film history in the Philadelphia and New Jersey regions Saturday, Oct. 17 also at Dante Hall.
            The New Jersey premiere of “Hitchcock/Truffaut” plays Saturday afternoon, Oct. 17 at Dante. Based on Francois Truffaut’s 1966 book “Cinema According to Hitchcock,” a battery of directors talks about the influences of the two filmmakers.
            In the short film, “After Tragedy,” director Mark VanZevenBergen revisits the horrific case of Leslie Nelson, who killed two police officers in Haddon Heights 20 years ago, screening Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Noyes Arts Garage, Mississippi and Fairmount avenues.
            North Jersey filmmakers Keith Collins and Joseph Pepitone bring the world premiere of “Clean Cut.” After witnessing a murder at a young age, Bill Horton stalks the streets for evildoers under the murderous guise of The Evangelist.  New Jersey-shot drama, “Before the Snow,” focuses on a man who struggles to come to grips with his tattered past after being diagnosed with a terminal disease.
            For more details, visit Tickets are $40 for a Weekend Pass; $25 for a day pass and $8 for a single block of films. Purchase them at the door or visit:

The 8th annual Atlantic City Cinefest, presented by Downbeach Film Festival, will show movies at venues such as Dante Hall Theater and the Noyes Arts Garage, both managed by Stockton University. The festival celebrates the art form of independent moviemaking. The festival has hosted Kevin Smith, Terry Winter, Robert Downey, Sr., Scott Rosenfelt, William Forsythe, Dominique Swain and more during the first seven years. 

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