Front Row Festival Celebrates Films, New Jersey, Only on NJ PBS

falkd | January 7, 2021

An encore: Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NJ PBS, starting January 13.
Do you love independent films? Are you enjoying your entertainment at home these days? Have we got a new popcorn-worthy series for you! NJ PBS and Montclair Film have collaborated on Front Row Festival, featuring six nights of independent films. 

Some of the hour-long episodes are full documentaries, others are collections of shorts. Many of the films feature New Jersey-based individuals (like Jesszilla, a short doc about a pre-teen girl with a passion for boxing),  local subjects (like the Cowtown Rodeo and the Pine Barrens) and settings (like Grind – about post-prison positivity in Newark).

The Front Row Film Festival premiered in fall 2021 and begins its encore Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NJ PBS starting Thursday, January 13 with Exploring Life with Emily Hubley, featuring the filmmaker’s animated shorts.

Front Row Festival Broadcast Schedule

January 13: EXPLORING LIFE WITH EMILY HUBLEY, directed by Emily Hubley

Drawing with pale watercolor and human figure, chair in center

And/Or by Emily Hubley

  • AND/OR: An artist struggles to navigate the territory between despair and epiphany.
  • BRAINWORM BILLY: A young man is haunted by a famous comedian.
  • FAITHY, HEY: Artist/filmmaker Faith Hubley drew a self-portrait in her journal every day for the last decades of her life. Years later, her daughter revisits specific memories and dreams, and considers a relationship altered by death.
  • HER GRANDMOTHER’S GIFT: A grandmother discusses past and present attitudes toward menstruation.
  • PIGEON WITHIN: A late-night encounter with what may be her guardian angel causes a young woman to second guess her reality.




  • ACE, directed by Morgan Nichols: Ace’s crush invites her over after school.
  • CATCH A GIRL, directed by LeRon Lee: With his elementary understanding of courtship, 11-year-old Darius meets up with friends that conspire to play a popular “predator vs. prey” childhood game, targeted to take advantage of girls.
  • ETYMOLOGY, directed by Maria McIndoo: A mother prepares her daughter for a spelling bee, but as preparations gather pace, so does the pressure, and soon before, the veil of perfection begins to slip. Read a review.
  • JUSTINE, directed by Eric Shahinian: A transgender teenager looks for love and tries to overcome her fears.


The High Bridge

  • CONTOURS, directed by Javian Le: An Asian American teenager takes refuge in a hotel suite as she recovers from cosmetic eyelid surgery.
  • GRIND, directed by Yuri Alves: GRIND follows Robert Wilmote, a Liberian refugee and convicted felon who transformed his life following his release from prison and –now challenges others to do the same.
  • THE HIGH BRIDGE, directed by Benedict Campbell: Bronx teenager reluctantly confronts fatherhood when his young daughter visits her doctor.
  • LILY, directed by Mimi Jeffries: Mel attends her baby shower.


A young girl in dark lighting


  • COWTOWN, directed by Greg Kohs: The story of the oldest weekly rodeo in the United States, the Cowtown Rodeo. The film captures East Coast Cowboys striving to keep their birthright intact, as Howard “Grant” Harris, the great-grandson of its founder, and his family fend off the seemingly inevitable march of suburbia and modernity to do what they know and love best.
  • JESSZILLA, directed by Emily Sheskin: Jesselyn “JessZilla” Silva is serious about boxing, and at 10 years old, trains seriously with dreams of becoming a professional fighter.  Her father, Pedro, finds himself caught in between supporting her dream and worrying about her future in boxing.
  • TOMNODDY, directed by Charles Poekel: Pioneer soap bubble entertainer Tom Noddy has taken his act around the world for over thirty years, conjuring fleeting beauty as he tries to stay true to himself.
  • YVES & VARIATION, directed by Lydia Cornett: A New York City doorman wears many hats—father, art curator, and erstwhile violinist—as he works tirelessly to give back to his community in Haiti.


Down in Flames

  • DOWN IN FLAMES: THE TRUE STORY OF TONY ‘VOLCANO’ VALENCI, directed by William Stribling: In 2013, a documentary film crew followed Tony “Volcano” Valenci for 90 days on his quest to set a world record. This is his story.
  • A NIGHT AT COLUCCI’S, directed by Charles Poekel: You never know what will happen when the infamous variety artist Floyd Vivino performs his weekly show at a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant.


February 17: PINE MUD by Jared Flesher

A small clearing in the woods

Pine Mud

  • PINE MUD, directed by Jared Flesher: Pine Mud takes an intimate look the illegal off-road vehicles in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, as seen through the eyes of a gritty but good-natured conservationist.