NEWTON-The 24th annual Black Maria Film Festival, featuring some of the nation's most free-spirited, fresh and visionary independent films, will stop 10:50 a.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, at Sussex County Community College. Cost is $3 and $2 for senior citizens and children under 12. Students with valid identification will be admitted free. Since 1981, the Black Maria Film and Video Festival, an international juried competition and tour, has been presented cutting edge works from independent film and video makers. Named for Thomas Edison's first motion picture studio, the festival is known for its national public exhibition program, which features contemporary works drawn from the annual collection of 50 award-winning films and videos. The festival, recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Academy Award qualifying festival for short film documentaries, animation, and live action, was awarded the New Jersey Governor's Award for Excellence in 2002 and the New Jersey State Council of the Arts Certificate of Excellence in 2003. For information, call 300-2232 or 300-2116.