Film Focus Weekend

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Join us for our second Film Focus Weekend and the return of The Black Maria Film Festival!

The Black Maria Film Festival, founded in 1981, is an annual juried competition that premiers each February, of new short works in all film genres. The festival derives its name from Thomas Edison's first movie production studio (dubbed Black Maria because of its resemblance to a police patrol wagon.) After inventing the medium, Mr. Edison found that a constant flow of new film subjects was needed to keep the new invention popular, and thus the Black Maria was built in 1892 in West Orange, New Jersey.

Join Jane Steuerwald, the Executive Director of The Black Maria Film Festival, for enlightening Q & As before and after the films. Other events include a late-night showing of The Shining, a cocktail-making class and tasting featuring cocktails inspired by the movies (fee and sign-up required), the films of Wes Anderson, and a "Classic Hollywood" photo booth. Throughout the weekend, you may also view selections from last year’s festival in our dedicated screening room.

For overnight reservations, please call .


Jane Steuerwald

Jane Steuerwald is the Executive Director of the Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium - Black Maria Film Festival.  She studied photo, film and video at Syracuse University and received her BFA and MS. Jane received her MFA in film from Bard College.  She served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Black Maria Film Festival for many years. 

Her films have screened at MoMA; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Thalia Cinema, NYC; Anthology Film Archives, NYC; The Gramercy Theater, NYC; the Jersey City Museum; Athens International Film Festival, and more. She received two Artist Fellowships from NJ State Council on the Arts, and she served as a juror for NJ State Council on the Arts in 2007 and 2012.  She has also received grants from the NJ Historical Commission, the Puffin Foundation, Lightworks, Sony/AFI, and NJ City University.

Jane was chair of the Media Arts Department at NJ City University – the home of the Black Maria Film Festival - for decades, where she is a video, film and multi-media production professor. She was chosen for Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities in the US in 2005, and was a Women’s History Month Honoree in Hudson County for empowering women through education in 2012.

Christopher Upham

Christopher Upham is a producing writer-director living in San Francisco. His first documentary, Return to Dak To, premiered at the Black Maria Film Festival, where it won a Jury’s Citation prize. The film explores Upham’s experiences as a medic traveling back to Vietnam with four Army comrades.

Mr. Upham’s collaborators include: playwright John O’Keefe, directors Paul Saltzman, Taggart Siegel, Ellen Perry, William Farley, Yun Suh, Hisham Bizri, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, and arms trafficking investigator/producer Kathi Austin. Mr. Upham is on Staff at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Screenwriting program and has taught at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Film Society.

Mr. Upham’s first novel, Daktoum a fictional retelling of the events in Return to Dak To, was published by Skywriter Books, Spring, 2015. His short fiction, Nothing To Crow About was anthologized in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston. Mr. Upham has professional acting credits in over 50 films, including a featured lead in Larry Clark’s Cutting Horse.

He began in the film business with legendary IMAX pioneer and director Greg MacGillivray, and has worked professionally at nearly every movie job above and below the line except for grip and gaffer. Mr. Upham’s current projects include: Sidewinder Justice, a dystopian war veteran’s revenge novel set in a desert city and Dark Gate, a San Francisco neo-noir transmedia film/novel.

Black Maria Film Festival– Mission and History:

For thirty-five years the Black Maria Film Festival has been celebrating creativity and innovation in the moving-image arts. The Festival’s home is New Jersey City University in New Jersey, not far from the site of Thomas Edison’s original film studio in West Orange, known as the “Black Maria.” Edison’s employees thought the studio’s boxy shape and black tarpaper covering resembled the so-called “black maria” police paddy wagons.

The films that become the centerpiece of the Black Maria Film Festival honor the vision of Thomas Edison, New Jersey inventor and creator of the motion picture.  The Festival reaches out to diverse audiences in diverse settings including universities, museums, libraries, community organizations, and arts venues. The cutting edge, cross-genre work that makes up the Festival’s touring program, has been traveling across the country and abroad every year for decades. 

The focus is on short films – narrative, experimental, animation, and documentary - including those, which address issues and struggles within contemporary society such as the environment, public health, race and class, family, sustainability, and much more. These exceptional works range from animation, comedy, and drama to the exploration of pure form in film and video and are the heart and soul of the festival. 

See you there!

For reservations, please call .