Montclair Film Festival Announces Opening, Closing, and Centerpiece Selections which Include ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

MeAndEarlAndTheDyingGirl-1024x481One of the smaller regional festivals but one that continues to prove its worth is the Montclair Film Festival here in New Jersey.

Yesterday it was announced that “Hello My Name is Doris” starring two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field will open the festival.  The film’s director Michael Showalter will be in attendance at the screening.  Just recently, the film premiered at SXSW where it received glowing reviews for Field, and is said to now be one of the first early year contenders for Best Actress.  The film also stars Emmy nominee Max Greenfield of FOX’s “New Girl.”  “Hello My Name is Doris” will screen Friday, May 1.

Announced as the Narrative Centerpiece is Alfonso Gomez-Rajon’s “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” which was noticed earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.  The coming of age film tells the story of Greg (played by Thomas Mann) who, at the request of his mother, befriends a girl Rachel (played by Olivia Cooke).  Already building buzz, the film is said to be a strong contender for Adapted Screenplay.  The film has its East Coast premiere on Saturday, May 9.

The Documentary Centerpiece chosen is none other than Jessica Edwards’ “Mavis!”  Focusing on gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples, and her family group, the Staples Singers, the documentary is said to be moving and enthralling, echoing films like “20 Feet from Stardom,” which won the Academy Award in 2012.  Director Jessica Edwards and Mavis Staples will be in attendance and moderated by Emmy Award winner Stephen Colbert.  The film screens on Friday, May 8.

Finally, selected as the Closing Night Film is Kris Swanberg’s “Unexpected” starring Cobie Smulders.  The story of a Chicago public high school teacher who’s life is turned upside down when she finds out she’s pregnant.  The film will debut on Sunday, May 10 (Mother’s Day).

If you’re in the NYC-metro area, this is a small, intimate festival where you can see some of the best films you couldn’t or won’t get to see at Sundance or any other film festival this year.  The rest of the festival lineup will be announced soon.

Read the press release:

March 25, 2015 – The Montclair Film Festival (MFF) today announced the Opening, Closing and Centerpiece selections for the 2015 festival, taking place May 1-10, 2015 in Montclair, NJ.

The 4th annual festival will open on May 1st at the historic Wellmont Theater with the East Coast Premiere of Michael Showalter’s award winning Hello, My Name Is Doris, starring Sally Field and Max Greenfield. Director and co-writer Michael Showalter will attend the screening, with more special guests to be announced soon.

On May 8th, the festival will screen Jessica Edwards’ Mavis! as its Documentary Centerpiece film. Ms. Edwards will attend to present her portrait of the legendary gospel and R&B singer, Mavis Staples. Ms. Staples will attend the screening and participate in a post-screening Q&A with Stephen Colbert. May 9th, the festival presents Alfonso Gomez-Rajon’s award-winning Me And Earl And The Dying Girl as its Narrative Centerpiece film. The film was Executive Produced by Montclair’s own Nora Skinner. Special guests will be announced soon.

On May 10th, the festival presents a special Mother’s Day screening of Kris Swanberg’s acclaimed feature Unexpected as the festival’s Closing Night Film. The films join the previously announced Sam Green + Yo La Tengo live performance of The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller (tickets on sale now) in the festival lineup. “We are truly honored to bring these remarkable films to the Montclair Film Festival,” said MFF Executive Director Tom Hall. “These are movies that our audiences will love,
and we could not be more excited to support these wonderful filmmakers and showcase
their work.”

Tickets for all Montclair Film Festival films go on-sale on Wednesday, April 8th for Members and Sponsors, with public sales beginning Monday April 13th. The full 2015 MFF program will be announced on Thursday, April 2nd. Tickets for all events are available by visiting

sallyfield_hello_mynameisdorisOPENING NIGHT FILM
Director: Michael Showalter
Producers: Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker, Daniel Crown, Michael Showalter, Jordana Mollick, Kevin Mann
Cast: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Stephen Root, Jack Antonoff, Natasha Lyonne, Tyne Daly
USA/ 95 Min

In Michael Showalter’s HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS, Sally Field makes a triumphant return with her leading performance as Doris Miller, an unassuming office worker living in her childhood home despite the recent death of her mother. But when Doris finds inspiration in the ideas of a self-help guru, the arrival of a handsome new co-worker named John (Max Greenfield) heralds a new obsession. Can Doris catch John’s eye, find happiness and move forward? Or are her dreams destined to remain just beyond her reach? HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS is the rarest of comedies, effortlessly moving between laughs and real feeling to paint a touching portrait of a dreamer. The Montclair Film Festival is proud to present Michael Showalter’s HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS as the 2015 Opening Night Film. Friday, May 1, 7:30 PM, The Wellmont Theater

Director: Jessica Edwards
Producers: Jessica Edwards, Rachel Mills Featuring: Mavis Staples
USA/ 85 Min

Directed by Jessica Edwards, MAVIS! is the first feature-length documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, the Staple Singers. From the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped pioneer in the 1950s, to the “message songs” of the civil rights era marching beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to massive hits such as “I’ll Take You There” in the soul-filled Stax era, and her recent Grammy-winning work with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples is one of the most influential and enduring vocalists of our time and a true American icon. MAVIS! follows her unrivaled career through dynamic live performances, archival footage, captivating storytelling and interviews with friends and collaborators. She occupies a singular place in American music: a soldier of love and peace whose fight continues; her message of equality is needed now more than ever. Director Jessica Edwards and subject Mavis Staples in attendance. Mavis Staples will join Stephen Colbert in a post-screening discussion of the film. Friday May 8, 8:00 PM, The Wellmont Theater

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rajon
Executive Producer: Nora Skinner Producers: Jeremy Dawson, Dan Fogelman, Steven M. Rales
Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman
USA/ 104 Min

Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) is an awkward, self-deprecating high school student determined to coast through his senior year as anonymously as possible. He spends most of his time remaking bizarre, spirited versions of classic movies with his only friend Earl (RJ Cyler) – and avoiding social interactions like the plague. But Greg’s plans are foiled when his well-meaning mother forces him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate who’s been diagnosed with leukemia. Bristling with wit from a clever screenplay by Jesse Andrews, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s second feature is a poignant coming-of-age film with a heart of cinematic gold. Saturday, May 9, 6:30 PM, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School
A Fox Searchlight Release

Director: Kris Swanberg
Producer: Andrea Roa Starring: Cobie Smulders, Gail Bean, Anders Holm, Elizabeth McGovern
USA/ 85 Min

With the Chicago public high school where she teaches scheduled to close, Samantha (Cobie Smulders) decides it’s time to plan for the future. But when Sam discovers she is pregnant, everything changes, including her relationships with John (Anders Holm), who wants to build a family with Sam, and Jasmine (Gail Bean), one of her brightest students. Despite her personal and professional struggles, Sam remains determined to have a baby on her own terms while supporting Jasmine in her quest to attend college. Kris Swanberg’s UNEXPECTED is a luminous ode to modern maternity, a beautifully crafted story of friendship and motherhood that depicts the experience of pregnancy with a delicate, sophisticated grace. Sunday, May 10, 7:00 PM, Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School
A Film Arcade Release