If you love to binge watch movies, the 11th annual Atlantic City Cinefest is perfect for you. Plan to get your tickets for this cinema extravaganza, which takes place Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12 to 14, at Dante Hall Theater and the Noyes Arts Garage in Atlantic City. Depending on your movie mood, you can purchase a weekend ticket or just a day pass.
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Showcasing indie films — including many from local filmmakers in South Jersey — the Cinefest also features a screening of “Die Hard.” It’s hosted by Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Bonnie Bedelia, who played the wife of Bruce Willis in the 1988 action movie. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the film, which will be shown 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 at Dante Hall.
We caught up with Bedelia who talked about her acting career, which began when she was 12. “I was an actor always, and I happened to have been a child when I started,” says Bedelia, who is now 70.
The native New Yorker made her professional debut in a North Jersey playhouse. She then played a teenager in the daytime soap “Love of Life,” cast alongside Cicely Tyson and Christopher Reeve. She also appeared in six Broadway plays before she turned 19.
Although Bedelia has been on Broadway, she is passionate about film, her first love. “You don’t have to externalize anything,” says Bedelia, who will be honored with the Cinefest’s Lifesaver Award, which celebrates cinematic achievement. “You just have to listen and be there. The emotion has to be in your eyes, and then there are glimpses of your soul. I love the intimacy of film.”
She also loves the collaborative aspect of it. “This is a wonderful part of film,” she says. “We’re all working together to bring our own talents and acumen to the project. It is something so much larger than the sum of our [individual] contributions.”
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This became clear to her when she went to the premiere of “Die Hard.”
“It was so startling,” says Bedelia on seeing the movie for the first time. “It was exciting, interesting, funny, entertaining, over the top, wonderful.”
She shares a story about the director, John McTiernan, who introduced himself while Bedelia was in wardrobe getting fitted. “He said, ‘If you have any questions or need to discuss character stuff, I’m not your man,” Bedelia recalls. ‘You have to find somebody else.’”
This anecdote demonstrates that directors are immersed in the enormous task of filmmaking and that actors need to do their own work to bring characters to life.
That’s the part Bedelia loves, likening the process to a puzzle. “There are so many questions when you start exploring the character,” she explains. “What are her problems? What’s her relationship with other people? What does the character want and need? What are the obstacles?”
Over time, Bedelia figures these out and her body of work — both in film and TV — shows she’s adept at finding the hearts, minds and souls of all the characters she’s played.
For her, the magic happens in those few moments when directors say “action,” then say “cut.”
“That’s where I live,” she says.