21st Annual Garden State Film Festival returns to Asbury Park and Cranford
🎬 The 21st annual Garden State Film Festival returns to Asbury Park and Cranford
🎬 More than 237 films will be shown, many from New Jersey writers and directors
🎬 Tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday screenings
The 21st annual Garden State Film Festival returns to Asbury Park and Cranford from Wednesday, March 23 until Sunday, March 26, unveiling world premieres, Hollywood stars, and industry panels, and paying tribute to New Jersey’s legacy as the birthplace of the American filmmaking industry.
What is the GSFF?
More than 237 films from over 23 countries will be screening collectively in Asbury Park at Asbury Lanes, The Asbury Hotel, The Berkeley Hotel, The Showroom Cinema on Cookman Avenue, and The Jersey Shore Arts Center, as well as at The Cranford Theater, 25 North Street in West Cranford.
“The Garden State festival presents hundreds of independent films. We have multi-day events which bring together a large number of producers, directors, actors, investors, distributors, and industry talent to the great state of New Jersey, which is the birthplace of American filmmaking,” said GSFF Executive Director, Lauren Concar Sheehy.
It all happened in Fort Lee, which was considered the first Hollywood, she added.
Members of the GSFF are excited to be back in person this year, Concar Sheehy said. In 2020, it was the only festival that did not postpone or cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival only had 11 days to build and execute its own livestream platform. They were able to screen more than 245 movies from New Jersey to the world. Normally, everyone comes to Asbury Park and Cranford, so this was fantastic to be able to share this experience during a very difficult time, she said.
Are all the movies being shown from New Jersey?
No. There will be a mix of films that are from New Jersey. There is a “homegrown category” of films. Concar Sheehy said that means 75% of principal photography needs to have been shot in New Jersey. So, while there will be a great homegrown mix of films, the festival is global.
What notable actors will be at the 21st annual GSFF?
Some of this year’s notables include Harvey Keitel, Ron Perlman, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Ashley Platz, Elias Koteas, Joel David Moore, Ash T (Better Call Saul), Jacob A. Ware (Boardwalk Empire), and many more.
What are some of the highlights that can be expected?
The GSFF opens with a red carpet Gala Cocktail Party on Friday, March 24 at Asbury Lanes and its first screening: “The Baker,” featuring Ron Perlman, Harvey Keitel, Elias Koteas, Joel David Moore, and Emma Ho in this action film.
On Saturday, March 25 at 8:45 p.m. at the Berkeley Hotel, there will be a movie screening of “Trap,” which is directed by Neptune resident, Anthony Edward Curry. The film is about a hood who is facing life in prison and dreams of the violent streets that forged his identity but cursed his soul.
Also on Saturday, March 25, there will be a panel at the Berkeley Hotel called “Behind the Lens,” with Ron Vidor, an award-winning cinematographer who has worked on several blockbuster hits like “Jaws,” “Beverly Hills Cops II”, “Rocky III,” and TV shows like “Thirtysomething,” “Fantasy Island,” and “Remington Steele,” Concar Sheehy said.
Music lovers will enjoy meeting rock and roll pioneer and New Jersey’s own music legend, Kenny Vance when he screens his film “Heart and Soul” on Saturday, March 25 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Asbury Lanes. It is a feature-length documentary hosted by Vance who opens a portal through the decades to share the harmony-to-heartbreak of the early, unsung heroes of rock n’ roll whose voices shaped the music that endures.
Classic horror fans will want to see the feature-length documentary, “Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster,” screening at the ShowRoom in Asbury Park on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
On Sunday, March 26 at 2:45 p.m. a block of New Jersey movies will be shown. “The last film in there is from Jersey City. It’s called “Strength Through Visibility: 20 Years of Gay Pride in Jersey City,” Concar Sheehy said. Jersey City Mayor Stephen Fulop will be attending along with other area dignitaries.
Also, on Sunday, March 26 at the Berkeley Hotel, there will be a winning screenplay competition table read. Concar Sheehy said the winning screenplay was written by New Jersey resident, Kelly A. Byrne and it’s called “Curly’s Camp for Girls and Boys.”
Professional actors will do the table reading from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Horse and nature lovers will want to see the poignant documentary “Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West,” on Sunday, March 26 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Jersey Shore Arts Center. Filmmaker Ashley Avis (Disney’s Black Beauty) shares this journey into profound beauty and the desperate plight faced by the wild horses in the western U.S., in hopes of protecting them before wild horses disappear forever.
There will also be a high school film screening on both Saturday and Sunday hosted by Dr. David Stout, president of Brookdale Community College.
“After the festival, we take a large selection of our high school film screenings and showcase it at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention in Atlantic City in October,” she said.
The Garden State Film Festival offers a variety of ticket packages. Saturday and Sunday passes will give you access to individual screenings and event passes.
To learn about all the films and for tickets, visit here.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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