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Montclair Film Festival ’16: How to get tix, and what to see

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Montclair Film Festival '16: How to get tix, and what to see

Danielle Macdonald is a rap singer with a difference in ‘Patti Cake$,’ a Jersey film getting its instate debut at the Montclair Film Festival

They’re ready for their closeup.

The staff and volunteers of the ever-expanding Montclair Film Festival start taking ticket orders from members today, in person and online (tickets for the general public go on sale Friday) And smart cineastes won’t delay, as the sixth edition of the 10-day event, beginning April 28, promises plenty of popular talent and home-grown attractions.

It’s an ambitious program, but this is one festival that doesn’t think small. Under the rubric Montclair Film, it offers year-round educational programs and special events, and just moved into new headquarters at 505 Bloomfield Avenue, the Investors Bank Film & Media Center.

They’re going to need the extra space.

This year’s big-buzz films include the Sundance stunner “Patty Cake$,” a shot-in-Bergen-County feature about an unlikely rapper, and “Menashe,” a new Yiddish film set in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox community. Other hot tickets include the documentaries “Step,” about an inner-city dance team and “Tell Them We Are Rising: America’s Black Colleges and Universities.”

There will be a number of new works from respected auteurs, including “The Commune,” from the terrific Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, and “Afterimage,” the last work from the late, legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda.

Both films will be part of the “Fiction Feature Competition”; the “Documentary Feature Competition” will spotlight non-fiction work. And the festival will also continue its tradition of encouraging new and local talent, with its “Future/Now Competition” featuring five films from emerging filmmakers, and its “New Jersey Films Competition” celebrating home-grown filmmakers or locally shot projects.

Yet while the MFF is all about the new, there will be some restored classics, too, with Andrei Tarkovsky’s dreamlike “Stalker” and George Romero’s ground-breaking “Night of the Living Dead” both getting special showings.

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What all the fest’s films have in common, though, new or old, fiction or non-, feature or short, is that they’re work “that gives depth and shape to the vital conversations of our time,” says Executive Director Tom Hall. “The festival is an opportunity for bringing audiences together with these incredible artists so that, together, we can enjoy and engage with the images, ideas and insights that are illuminated in these wonderful films.”

And, as usual, the festival will help facilitate those conversations by having several special events, including separate on-stage sitdowns with John Turturro and Bill Nye (both being interviewed by Montclair’s Stephen Colbert) and a freewheeling discussion on the “fake news” phenomenon.

Add in new films from Oren Moverman, Steve James and Amber Tamblyn, musical performances (including one from Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo), special programs for young African-American filmmakers – and probably a few surprise guests — and you have a festival that’s not only going to fill the days and nights between April 28 and May 7, but many of the streets of Montclair as well.

So get your tickets now, before they yell “Cut!”

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