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27-May-2015 9:04pm PDT  


Black Maria Film Festival

34 Annual February 05, 2015 to November 08, 2015

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c/o Media Arts Department, Fries Hall
New Jersey City University
2039 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City NJ 07305
Phone: 201 200 2043

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Since 1981, the mission of the Black Maria Film Festival has been to promote, illuminate, and advocate innovation in the art of the moving image. The festival has passionately embraced this mission for the past thirty-two years.

The Black Maria advances and publicly exhibits the work of diverse, passionate, exceptional, independent, non-commercial film and video makers. We focus on short films including those that address issues and struggles within contemporary society. We conduct an annual juried competition with awards for 40 to 50 works chosen for the festival tour. We travel to 45 or more host venues across the United States and abroad each season. It is the tradition of lively inquiry, innovation, open artistic exploration, independent vision, and illumination of the human condition in all of its manifestations that motivates the festival's work on behalf of contemporary film and video.

The Black Maria Film Festival is named after the world's first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison, where he made all of his own short experimental films.

Moviemaker's Spring 2010 issue lists the Black Maria Film Festival as one of "25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee."

The Black Maria Film Festival annually conducts an international juried competition followed by a multi-month tour of the award-winning works to cultural centers, museums, colleges, and other arts venues across the nation and abroad thus fulfilling its mission to advocate, exhibit and reward diverse short works. Following the jurying process conducted by highly-qualified experts in the field of film curation, media studies and production, the festival launches its national tour in February, traveling to states coast to coast.

The festival was initiated over three decades ago at the world's first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison at his West Orange, NJ labs a short distance from Manhattan. The 1893 studio was nicknamed the Black Maria because it was reminiscent of the police paddy wagons of the time. It had a hinged roof and rotated on a circular wooden track, allowing the building to follow the sun and illuminate the stage within. The Black Maria studio is an important landmark from the dawn of moving pictures. Acrobats, strong men, vaudeville performers, actors and dancers, sharpshooter Anne Oakley, Buffalo Bill, and dancer Annabelle Whitford, were all invited to the Black Maria to be filmed.

Today the works exhibited by the Black Maria Film Festival represent a mosaic of diverse forms including documentary, experimental/alternative, animation, fiction, dance, and hybrids with an emphasis on personal, poetic, human interest and otherwise insightful, creative and varied approaches to any given subject or genre. The festival tour exhibits the winning works in various thematic and artistic configurations tailored to diverse audiences at the host venues, which are conducive to the genuine appreciation of the work.

The festival’s artistic vision includes our commitment to present the vast majority of programs in person, hosted by either the director or associates of the festival, such as highly qualified trustees, filmmakers, film scholars, and jurors. The purpose of in-person presentation is to facilitate the full appreciation of the work through interactive dialogue with the audience. Most tour programs are approximately 90 minutes long and are curated from the award winners by the festival in conjunction with representatives from the host institution. Comprehensive program booklets with descriptions of all the works in the annual collection are offered to each host venue to accompany screenings. The booklet is offered to each host site digitally, and is posted on the festival website, as part of the festival’s green initiative.

The Black Maria Film Festival has been recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has been featured on National Public Radio, and has received awards for excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for a number of years running. Following it's annual premiere at NJ City University just across the Hudson from NYC, the festival travels to notable venues including the National Gallery of Arts in Washington, DC; the American University of Rome; Des Moines Art Center; Edison-Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers, FL; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; New York Library for the Performing Arts, NYC; Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Savannah College of Art and Design; Grounds for Sculpture, NJ; University of Colorado-Boulder; University of Oregon; Emerson College, Rhode Island School of Design; University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Alabama Filmmakers' Coop; Squeaky Wheel Media, Buffalo, NY and many more.

Eileen Nunez (Festival Assistant) ; Jane Steuerwald (Executive Director) ; Jane Steuerwald (Festival Executive Director) ; Jane Steuerwald (Festival Executive Director) ; Jane Steuerwald (Festival Executive Director)


The festival welcomes submission of diverse short works no longer than 60 minutes, total running time, into its annual juried competition. Submissions are sought and accepted starting on July 1st. Early submission is highly recommended. Following the jurying process, winning works are included in the festival tour. Works may be considered according to categories but choosing a category is not required. All works submitted will be considered on their own merits. For those who wish to choose a submission category the festival suggests the following:


We seek fresh, lively and/or exploratory work in any genre that demonstrates such qualities as: creative vitality, human insight, sensitivity, edginess, free spiritedness, lyricism, whimsy, boldness, etc.

Works by and about people with disabilities are welcomed.

The festival has established four ranges of award recognition:

Jury's Stellar Awards - These 4 highest awards will be made around the following genres: documentary, narrative, animation, and experimental.

Jury's Choice - Equivalent to 1st Prize, without specifying category, typically 10 to 15 works are selected for the annual tour program.

Jury's Citation - Equivalent to 2nd Prize, without specifying category, typically 10 to15 works are selected for the annual tour program.

Director's Choice - Equivalent to 3rd Prize, without specifying category typically 20 works are selected for the annual tour program.

Entry Formats:
The submission format is DVD, regardless of the original production format.

Awards & Prizes:
Awardees will be announced as soon as possible following the jurying in December.


Agreements: Films and videos must be available for the festival's extended national tour through December 2015. For preview purposes please send only DVD (NTSC). Submission of work indicates and establishes the right of the festival to curate and assemble selected award-winning works into traveling programs in formats appropriate for the host sites and to be exhibited when requested throughout the annual tour. Submission of work also indicates that the festival may use moving images and stills from selected works for festival tour promotion via print and broadcast outlets, the internet, and other means. The Black Maria Film Festival is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The individual or organization submitting work hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film/video for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless the Black Maria Film and Video Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of, or damage to the screening videos entered. Disclaimer: Every precaution will be exercised in handling entries, but neither the festival organizers, employees, sponsors, nor participating organizations can assume responsibility for damage to or loss of materials submitted, including film prints, DVDs, etc. The Festival does not return DVD's. Works chosen for inclusion in the Festival Tour will automatically become part of the Festival archive for continued viewing purposes. The Festival reserves the right to alter the benefits, awards, or timetable stated in this prospectus, should conditions dictate.