At Montclair Film Festival, New Jersey Governor Says State Is “Ready For Our Close-Up”

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed won the top narrative prize at the Montclair Film Festival Saturday night, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy confirmed he will sign an ambitious tax-incentive bill as a stimulus for film and TV production in the state.

After an introduction by Stephen Colbert (a local resident long tied to the festival), Murphy said, “New Jersey is a world-class location to be the backdrop for any filmmaker – from our small towns, to our big cities, rolling hills, and the Jersey Shore – and we’re ready for our close up. Tonight, through the Montclair Film Festival, we’re sending a message that New Jersey isn’t just a great place to view the arts, but that there isn’t any better place to shoot a film than right here.”

Murphy added, “We have the artists. We have the Art DNA. We have the Film DNA. And so I will tell you, we’re committed, and I’m going to sign a law in the new few weeks that will give the financial incentives back to make movies again in New Jersey.”

Before the governor’s remarks, the festival announced the award winners. Here are the winners, along with films recognized with special jury prizes:

Fiction Feature Competition


First Reformed

Directed by Paul Schrader

Special Jury Prize

Julianne Nicholson, for her performance in Who We Are Now

Directed by Matthew Newton

Bruce Sinofsky Prize for Documentary Feature Competition


Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Directed by RaMell Ross

Special Jury Prize

Black Mother

Directed by Khalik Allah

Future/Now Competition


We the Animals

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar

Special Jury Prize

Helena Howard, for her performance in Madeline’s Madeline

New Jersey Films Competition


Crime + Punishment

Directed by Stephen Tiang

Special Jury Prize


Directed by Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp