Culture & Heritage Affairs
The Fort Lee Office of Culture & Heritage Affairs involves outreach to both the school community and the general public of Fort Lee to highlight the role Fort Lee has played since its inception in the 18th century.
1776 was the year General George Washington named our town and he was stationed here with over 3,000 of his troops including famed writer and patriot Thomas Paine. Fort Lee's role as a 19th century resort community, an artists colony and home to Palisade Amusement Park led to the early 20th century role of Fort Lee as the first American film town (see www.barrymorefilmcenter.org). The building of the George Washington Bridge and its opening (1931) redefined our borough and led to the vibrant diversity of our population. This office celebrates the past while making it alive for a 21st century diverse population.
Some of the events sponsored by this office include the Annual Fort Lee Arts & Music Festival, the Annual Fort Lee Farmers Market, operation of Historic Jitney Tours and history walks, displays of the town's history in the Fort Lee Museum (1589 Parker Avenue), co-hosting of events with other organizations such as the Annual Women's History Month program, the Annual Black History Month program and the Annual Shakespeare in the Park program at Monument Park. Past events included an Annual Asian American Film Festival that will be revived in the Barrymore Film Center and a student film festival (Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow) as well as an Annual Battle of the High School Bands contest.
For more information, please visit the official site of the Fort Lee Film Commission and the Barrymore Film Center at https://www.barrymorefilmcenter.com.
Fort Lee Film Commission
The Fort Lee Film Commission, established by ordinance by the Mayor & Council of the Borough of Fort Lee in 2001, is an agency of the Borough that works with the New Jersey Motion Picture and TV Commission to secure film and TV production shoots within the Borough of Fort Lee, the first American film town. The Film Commission is the operating agency for the Borough of the Barrymore Film Center, presently under construction on Main Street and Park Avenue. The Film Commission raises funds for film restoration projects and its work in this arena, assisted via distribution by the famed Milestone Films (milestone films.com) has led to the recent release of a DVD set of restored films and the release of a new documentary on Fort Lee film history ("The Champion") which is available via Milestone Films or Amazon. The Film Commission is in preproduction for a documentary on the Barrymore family which will premiere at the opening of the Barrymore Film Center in early 2020.
Barrymore Film Center
The Barrymore Film Center (BFC) will be a 260-seat cinema, film museum and archive dedicated to the role Fort Lee played as birthplace of the American film industry and as the first American film town where such studios as Universal (1912) Fox (1915) and the first studio built and operated by a woman, Alice Guy Blache’ (Solax 1912), were established. The BFC is being built by the Borough of Fort Lee and will then be operated by the Borough’s Film Commission.
The BFC will have exhibits centering not only on Fort Lee film history but also on world cinema history, and will be the location of major film retrospectives including an annual silent film program, film festivals, screenings of foreign films and works of emerging filmmakers.
The mission of the Barrymore Film Center is to:
- Make those in the world cinema community aware of Fort Lee’s role as a pioneer film town;
- Raise awareness of the BFC and its programs in the state of New Jersey;
- Preserving, restoring and archiving elements of film history and making this archive available to scholars, researchers, students and documentary filmmakers from around the world to nurture a better understanding of the birthplace of the American film industry.
- The uniqueness of the building itself, as well as its changing exhibitions, will be a welcome addition to Fort Lee Film Town USA.
The BFC is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution dedicated to presenting the best of independent, retrospective documentary, and world cinema; promoting 21st century filmmaking through the prism of Fort Lee’s role as the first American film town; and making film a vibrant part of the community. Housing a state-of-the-art 260 seat cinema and a 2,500 square-foot museum, the BFC provides opportunities for people of all ages to discover, explore, and learn through the power of film, media and 21st-century technology.
Charitable contributions represent a critical percentage of our annual income and help bridge the gap between earned income and operating expenses. We rely on individuals, corporations, foundations and government to raise funds for our work. They help us:
- Keep up with the growing demand for our education programs;
- Showcase the best of independent, documentary, retrospective and world cinema;
- Partner with more than 100 schools and provide an annual filmmakers boot camp for students;
- Increase cross-cultural awareness by highlighting great work from regions that are much talked about but not understood;
- Each year we will feature over 20 curated series including the Annual Cliffhanger Silent Film Festival, Fort Lee Noir, Annual Reel Jersey Film Festival, Pordenone in America, Annual Asian-American Film Festival, Annual Alice Guy Blache’ Women in Film Festival, and retrospectives of legendary filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, D.W. Griffith, Martin Scorsese, Akira Kurosawa, and Quentin Tarantino.
- Film retrospectives in partnership with the Library of Congress, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of the Moving Image and organizations such as Milestone Video.
- Our film programs are enhanced with special guests- filmmakers, artists, musicians, authors entertain, educate and inspire us each year.
Our Museum space is made vibrant through multiple traveling exhibits. Partnerships with such organizations as the Museum of the Moving Image and the Library of Congress as well as private collectors enable the BFC to have a national and international scope with exhibits while at the same time using this platform to tell the story of the birth of the first American film town of Fort Lee.