Jerzlandia – Short Film Captures the Spirit of New Jersey

Jerzlandia | Americana in New Jersey from John Belitsky on Vimeo.

A note from the filmmaker: 

The Jerzlandia film was not a planned shoot.

I happened upon this festival, which is really like almost any festival in New Jersey, carbon copied, loaded in and set up across the state all summer long, and took aim. I’d peg my objectives at the onset somewhere between testing a new lens and avoiding potential traffic congestion upon exit. But I’m always amazed how filming instigates a much deeper observing. Looking through the lens, I saw something unique, special. I saw a dignity reality television either distorts or ignores, and a piece of American culture not popularized on glossy tourism board approved literature at local rest stops.

After the shoot I was pleased with the images I was able to capture, but it wasn’t until after Hurricane Sandy that I actually sat down and edited this piece. If the film, the data, is the raw material, and the product is created in the editing, then this piece enjoys a peculiar pedigree. And it’s a bit of an orphaned child. Like many events before it, 9-11 comes to mind here, Sandy splits local time like a sort of pre or post Sandy meridian. The images are pre-Sandy, but the sentiment is not. The film creates a longing, and the inclusion of the children heightens this feeling, almost suggesting a return to innocence that we are all too wise to wait upon. But then, I hope it suggests a bright and prosperous future, because the subject of the piece is not a natural disaster, it’s the people. Resilient. Proud. Real. Real rebuilding doesn’t happen in a slickly edited montage, but it doesn’t need to be. These people will get it done.


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