Hollywood East

These days, every city in the world seems to host a film festival, from the former Soviet province of Baku to Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival that screens movies for 24 hours straight. In New England, plenty of great film festivals take place in cities that are fun to spend time in, long after the end credits roll.


In the heart of the former whaling port of New London, Connecticut, stands one of America’s most revered movie venues: the Garde Arts Center. The center’s single-screen theater, which opened at the height of vaudeville in 1926 with an elaborate 1,488-seat auditorium, puts most modern cineplexes to shame. But it’s just one of many independent venues where regional film festivals play a starring role.

For a filmmaker, these festivals offer the first opportunity to show works in front of live audiences. And for the public, film festivals offer rare chances to meet directors, screen-writers and actors in an informal setting—and to see some of the most poignant pictures of the year, many of which may never get distribution in the United States.

These days, every city in the world seems to host a film festival, from the former Soviet province of Baku to Finland’s Midnight Sun Film Festival that screens movies for 24 hours straight. In New England, plenty of great film festivals take place in cities that are fun to spend time in, long after the end credits roll.

New London Film Festival
Entering its sixth year, the New London Film Festival features 15 films shown over three weeks in August. By showcasing local filmmakers, like last year’s Connecticut premiere of Red Doors, directed by Waterford native Georgia Lee, audiences have the opportunity to see hometown favorites alongside documentaries and foreign films. www.gardearts.org.

Boston Jewish Film Festival
Every November, the Boston Jewish Film Festival presents films from around the world with Jewish themes. The fest is known for its -quality selections, like the Boston premieres of The Pianist in 2002 and the Academy Award-nominated documentary My Architect in 2004. Movies are shown at two of Boston’s favorite places to catch flicks, the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline and the 380-seat auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. www.bjff.org.

Nantucket Film Festival
Since its inception 10 years ago, the Nantucket Film Festival has championed the filmmaker who can sculpt an idea into a full-length film or documentary. During its mid-June run, the festival shows some of the best-written independent films of the year and pays tribute to a (typically famous) screenwriter—Steve Martin was honored last year. Notables usually in attendance include Ben Stiller and his parents, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and Peter Farrelly, co-director of the Red Sox-obsessed Fever Pitch. Farrelly’s uproarious late-night story-telling event is where many Hollywood honchos tell embarrassing stories about their lives—offscreen. www.nantucketfilmfestival.org.

Newport International Film Festival
Founded in 1998, the Newport International Film Festival has quickly established itself as one of the top festivals in the region, featuring more than 100 films, shorts and docs Nolte came to Newport to screen The Beautiful Country, and was joined by Rhode Island native Joe Soares, costar of the award-winning documentary Murderball. After screenings, film buffs head to the nearby Newport Blues Cafe to listen to live music and share movie critiques. www.newportfilmfestival.com.

Stephen Jermanok is the co-writer of Passionada (2002).