Underground Inc documentary poster

Shaun Katz’s documentary “Underground Inc.: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock” opened up the Fall 2020 NJ Film Fest on September 13th, and is available on VOD for 24 hours after the premiere.

I think we can all recognize that everyone is feeling the hurt, stress and general confusion about what the future may bring. But if we’ve learned anything these past 6 months, one of the greatest assets we have to treat our anxiety and panic is the subtle, soothing comfort of the arts. I know for some that may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you. It is anything but.

The arts — both performing and visual — have allowed us to cope with the sudden and persistent changes in our daily lives, while also reminding us that we’re all in this together, no matter where we may lie on the political spectrum. If you’ve been binge-watching TV series after TV series on Netflix, signed up for an online drawing class hosted by one of your favorite illustrators, or enjoyed an epic battle on Verzuz, then the arts have contributed to your quality of life during these trying times, and it’s important to remember their value, even when everything but the essentials seem superfluous.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to ask you to donate to any arts-related causes … again … this time. Instead, I’m going to direct you to the upcoming Fall 2020 NJ Film Festival to help you continue to find solace, joy and serenity in the beauty that only the arts can offer. Yes, their website is atrocious to behold, but that doesn’t make the creative manna they offer any less sweet.

Kicking off this past Sunday, September 13th and running through Sunday October 25th, the entire film festival will take place online in a virtual format. This not only allows these potentially great documentaries, shorts, animated films, and narrative features to reach a larger audience, but they also provide you an opportunity to see them up to 24 hours after they’re scheduled to run thanks to the convenience of Video on Demand (VOD).

With Eventive as a festival provider, this year’s film showcase promises to be as smooth and seamless as possible for online streaming. Add to that, the film introductions and exclusive Q&As will make this year’s festival feel even more inclusive by providing access to more people who may have been previously unable to attend due to cost or mobility.

So, if you’re looking to relieve some stress, stay connected to cinematic artist expression, and/or support the industry that’s been keeping us all distracted from our fears of impending doom (but in a healthy way), take a moment to review the schedule for the #NJFF and pick out a film or two to watch and enjoy. We have 3-and-a-half months left of 2020, and an eye-opening film about pre-Covid life may be just what you need right now.

Tickets are only $12 per film/shorts block or $100 for the festival pass. The final prize winners will be announced after the October 25th screenings. And with this year’s showcase marking the 39th anniversary of the event, the festival will definitely be one to remember.