JC’s Bill Sorvino in New Short Film on Festival Circuit Hoping for Oscar Nod

The poster for "Maniac"

Maniac, a short film starring Jersey City’s own Bill Sorvino, is making its way around the festival circuit and will be part of the Golden Door Film Festival in Jersey City in October.

In the film, directed by Clark resident Sam Borowski, Sorvino (nephew of Paul and cousin of Mira), plays The Man, an average everyday citizen pushed over the edge by a series of events who takes up a life of vigilantism.

Borowski says the film was written by one of his production assistants, Nihad Shaladi from the Recording Radio Film Connection.

“He came to me with the script and said ‘I’d love for you to make this.’ I really, really liked it. It had some elements that remind me of Taxi Driver so we wanted to push it in that direction,” he says.

The film has a distinct 1970’s feel, achieved by using an old photographic lens with a Red EPIC camera, a throwback soundtrack and darker coloring reminiscent of great films from the era.

But what really makes the movie, Borowski says, is Sorvino’s performance. “I’ve worked with him about five times before and he’s a great actor. Everyone knows Paul and Mira; Bill has acting blood in his veins. He’s really showing his muscles in this one, taking it to the next level,” he says, adding that although shooting only lasted about four days, making the short had a lasting impression on the actor. “He told me he had nightmares before and after playing this character.”

Overall, Borowski says the film prompts audiences to question their personal concept of justice. “This film isn’t black or white, but in shades of grey. People don’t know whether to root for or against the character. He is a vigilante–he does some good things and helps people, so he’s killing bad people, but he’s still killing people. He’s invoking his own form of justice. It’s not right to kill somebody in cold blood.

“There’s a scene where he gives a monologue about why he does what he does and you would expect a person who kills and doesn’t seem completely right in the head to sound a certain way, but what he says makes sense. And that’s the most frightening part of the movie to me…The viewer has to decide what they take away. It’s the viewer here that makes the social commentary.”

Maniac, which premiered at the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival on Aug. 6, is slated to also screen at the Long Island Film Festival on Sept. 7 and at the Northeast Film Festival in Maplewood.

“I’m really excited to play at the Northeast. I go to the Maplewood Theater to see independent films there. To screen there is a dream come true,” he says. Also on the lineup for the Northeast Festival is another short film by Borowski starring Sorvino, Pollination, which was in last year’s Golden Door fest. Both of Borowski’s films are nominated for Best Short Film, Best Director of a Short and Best Actor in a Short. If all goes well, Borowski says, they could even be up for a Best Short nod at the 2015 Oscars.

Surviving Family, a film written and produced by JC resident Mara Lesemann, is also screening at the Northeast Festival.

Maniac will be at the Northeast Festival in Maplewood on Sept. 14. It will be at the Golden Door Film Festival in Jersey City as part of a short film block with Checkmate, Keep Your Enemies Closer and Masque on Oct. 11 at 8 pm. For more information, visit the festival website.

Photo courtesy of Sam Borowski

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.