2019 marked the third and final year of the contract between the Hoboken International Film Festival and my hometown of Greenwood Lake, NY. As I don’t know whether the festival will be coming back to Greenwood Lake, NY or not, I decided to make the most of attending this year. I saw several very interesting movies and shorts, and as I did on closing night of the festival last year, I did interviews on the red carpet. Attired in formal wear, or close to it at any rate, I spoke to the stars and got some interesting thoughts on the festival, its’ films and its’ impact.

I started the evening by talking to the festival’s creator, Kenneth Del Vecchio. We both love film and the creative process, and I talked to him about both.

Johnny: When the next big anniversary comes up for the film festival, would you consider taking one of your older films and doing a live commentary?

Kenneth: Sure. I’m up for any kind of idea. It sounds like a fun idea. It’s not something that I actually thought about until you raised it, but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Something like that I would do in the middle of the week of the film festival, not during the opening night gala.

Johnny: Of course. To my second question: With the wide array of genres and styles featured at the film festival, what styles, in your opinion, are the most crowd-pleasing, or is that difficult to quantify?

Kenneth: Everybody’s got different tastes. The reason why we’re an international film festival, John, is because some people like to see films that come from different parts of the world, while others like to see locally made films. Some people like to see stars in their movies, while other people like to see fresh new faces. In terms of straight-up genres, you know everybody’s got an opinion of what they like the most. Right now, if you talk to the distribution companies, they seem to think of the hottest things like action films. Horror films are always in that realm, and thrillers. Personally, I’m a man who likes crime thrillers and political thrillers, but I like every genre myself, so I support a wide range. Audience likes and tastes vary, so it’s kind of really hard to pigeonhole. I wouldn’t say that the artsy-type films are the favorites at film festivals. I think that’s a misnomer. I think that the standard genres are loyal. They like thriller movies. They like dramatic movies. They like funny movies.

Johnny: Fair enough. That does it for my questions. I know you’ve got a lot to cover, so I thank you very much, Mr. Del Vecchio.

Kenneth: You got it.

Kenneth Del Vecchio and his son Mario…

Immediately following Kenneth on the red carpet, I spoke to actors Lizet Benrey and Thom Michael Mulligan, who were representing a short screened at the festival called The Witching Hour.

Johnny: When your film was accepted for the festival, how did you react?

Thom: We were extremely excited because this is a very hard festival to get into…

Lizet: Yes…

Thom: …And I’m from New York City originally, so that’s one of the reasons why we did submit. We also knew that it’s a very big festival, and so when we got selected, we were extremely excited.

Johnny: As they don’t announce the nominees until the closing night, which is something a little different, which categories do you think you have the best shot at?

Thom: Well, just Best Short Film.

Lizet: That’s it.

Thom Michael Mulligan and Lizet Benrey…

At this point, I got their business cards, and I’ll try reaching out for more in-depth interviews with Lizet and Thom in the coming months. Some time elapsed as the red carpet became more excitedly filled with stars and interviewers, but then I had the chance to chat with the lovely Gena Lee Nolin about the festival.

Johnny: What makes the Hoboken International Film Festival different from other film festivals you’ve attended?

Gena: The rain…The rainy weather, and the gorgeous, lush trees as I drive through this gorgeous city. The lake is stunning. It, by far, stands out, and might be my favorite.

Johnny: As a resident of this town, I’m touched by your praise. My second question is: What’s been your favorite film of the festival this year?

Gena: Making A Deal With The Devil. It was good.

Johnny: That was probably my favorite of the festival, too.

Gena: Oh, good. We have a lot in common.

Johnny: It was a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Nolin.

Gena: I have so much respect for this festival and for your town. I love it.

Johnny: Oh, no problem.

Gena: I’m looking at houses here.

Johnny: Oh, wow. You’ll love it.

Gena Lee Nolin…

A few minutes later, Judie Aronson, the co-star of movies like Weird Science and American Ninja, and the presenter of the festival’s Best Documentary award, came into view, leading me to ask her some questions.

Johnny: What led you to this festival?

Judie: I was invited by Ken to this festival, and I was so happy. My very good friend Julie McCullough, whom I’ve worked with a couple of times, said it was such a fun and large festival, and here I am.

Johnny: I’m glad you’re having such fun. Of all the films you’ve seen at this year’s Hoboken International Film Festival, which one was your favorite?

Judie: Oh, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. I prefer not to tell.

Johnny: That’s fair enough. There have been a lot of good films this year…

Judie: …Really great films, and I’m excited. I’m going to be presenting Best Documentary. There were several documentaries entered into the festival, and they’re all deserving of this award.

Johnny: I do have one more question, actually. Arrow Video recently announced they’re doing a Blu-Ray of Weird Science. Will you be participating in extras?

Judie: Okay, so, a little bit of a problem there. They had my old e-mail address, and by the time I caught it and responded, they had just finished it. I was very sad, and they were sad, as was Suzanne Snyder, who played my best friend in the film. We had been asked to be in it, and we’re really sad that we can’t be a part of it.

Johnny: Well, you can always tape an interview and make it a digital extra.

Judie: How did you know about that?

Johnny: I follow Arrow Video on Facebook. Although I don’t have a Blu-Ray player, I am impressed by their lineup.

Judie: Yeah. It’s really disappointing. I was really excited about it, but I was shocked. This e-mail had come in so long ago, and I had never seen it. It’s unfortunate.

Johnny: Oh, well. Well, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Judie Aronson…

I wrapped up my time on the red carpet by talking to Julie McCullough again, and A Christmas Story co-star Scott Schwartz, who also relayed greetings from friend and former interview subject Liane Curtis to me, for the first time. Julie was first up.

Johnny: Of the three years that our town has held this festival, which season has had your most favorite films, or is it difficult to pick just one?

Julie: It’s difficult to pick just one. This year, there are films from 24 different countries, so it’s amazing what’s coming out. I love independent filmmakers. Without them, we wouldn’t have careers. I wouldn’t have a career, for sure, at this point. Most of the work I’ve gotten these past few years have all been independent films.

Johnny: Alright. My second question is: Have you considered working with Ken on a stand-up concert film, because you are the Funny Bunny, but there’s so little of your act available?

Julie: Yeah, I don’t like to post it up there, because if people see my whole act, why would they come to the show? They won’t come to a show if they can see your whole act on the Internet, so no, I won’t post it all up. Hopefully, one day I’ll get to do something televised, but until then, no.

Johnny: That’s fair enough.

A few minutes later, I got her picture for this article, and complimented her on her look that evening.

Johnny: Can I get a photo of you for the article?

Julie: Sure. Absolutely.

Johnny: I like it. I like your hairstyle also.

Julie: Thank you very much. I was trying to do 60s.

Johnny: Just like something from Valley Of The Dolls.

Julie:  I love it.

Julie McCullough…

After her, Scott was my final interview subject on the red carpet that evening.

Johnny: How did you come to know Ken?

Scott: Actually, I just met him when I got here. Julie McCullough called and exposed me to this film festival. She asked, “Would you like to come in?”. I said, “Where is it?”, and she said, “Well, it’s New York”. I asked where it was, and I came to realize it was right next to New Jersey. I grew up in New Jersey, so I said, “Absolutely. I’ll come”. I got to come a couple of days early and spend time with our mutual friend Liane Curtis.

Johnny: Cool. My second question is: Which of the filmmakers whose work you’ve seen this year would you most like to work with in the future?

Scott: The director of Making A Deal With The Devil. That was a cool movie.

Johnny: Yeah. I saw it last night and met Danny Aiello, a very friendly guy. He was very nice to meet.

Scott: Yeah. Michael Pare, who was also in there, is one of my good friends. I sent him a text this morning and said, “Hey, I saw this. It was great”. The director was Frank D’Angelo, and he’s a very sweet man. I got to meet him last night. We chit-chatted with Danny at a bar and restaurant not too far away. Literally, I came in yesterday for this. It was the only movie I got to see, and I was like, “This is a cool flick”.

Scott Schwartz…

With that, I wrapped up my interviews for the 2019 installment of the Hoboken International Film Festival. As I mentioned before, I don’t know if it will come back to Greenwood Lake or not, but it was fun to talk to the talents that evening.

Keep your eyes peeled for new installments of the Flashback Interview to come, including conversations with Mindi Miller, Ann Jillian and Donna Mills.


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