Joshua and Jessica Nelson will host the third annual New Jersey Documentary Film Festival on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16 at the Sparta Avenue Stage, 10 Sparta Ave.
The festival includes 24 films, both shorts and features. Awards will be presented for the Best Feature Documentary and Best Documentary Short.
Attending filmmakers will participate in question-and-answer sessions after some of the films.
Joshua Nelson has extensive experience in the entertainment industry. He attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, then became an actor, producer and casting director.
He has worked with award-winning actors and won awards for film-making and screenwriting. He now owns LaGuardia Acting Studio in Rockaway.
It was their love of documentaries that inspired him and his wife to bring the festival to Sparta.
Among the films to be shown are “Healing Dakota,” about a police dog that was rehabilitated after the discovery that he had developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his work, and “Bendix,” the story of a blind single father who overcame his challenges by working in the Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights.
The festival also offer a “Homegrown New Jersey” block of films July 16 with films from the Garden State.
Nelson said many people in the area have never been to a film festival and don’t know what to expect. He explains it in way that he hopes will show people that the festival is for everyone, from movie critics to those who enjoy watching a documentary on Netflix.
“A film festival is a place where people can see films before they go to distribution, where they are seen and screened prior.”
The venue makes the event more personal. “The Sparta Stage is a small, intimate setting, a beautiful space, where you can see things you wouldn’t normally see,” he said.
Nelson is confident that those who attend the festival will enjoy their experience. “No one ever leaves saying, ‘Why did I come here?’ ” he noted.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.NJDOCFEST.com