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Garden State Film Festival Announces 2020 Award Winners

Garden State Film Festival Announces 2020 Award Winners

The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) presented more than 240 independent films to over 15,000 viewers virtually through parallel and dynamic digital streaming in light of the global COVID-19 crisis, and the announcement from the Governor of the State of New Jersey further restricting public gatherings. GSFF executed what other larger festivals could not and built its own streaming platform in record time and to present securely and on schedule. One upside to this year's digital experience: Movie lovers around the globe viewed the films. 

The festival, which typically draws more than 25,000 attendees to the Shore town, screens local, national and international movies. GSFF brings the newest wave of indie films but this year our filmmakers were able to reach film lovers all over the world as the data shows we screened in the Netherlands, Ireland, The UAE, The UK, Canada, Italy, Australia, Finland, Belgium, and Croatia to name a few. It brings great joy to the team to have brought a film gathering to your living room at a time when we needed it the most.

On the importance of the festival carrying on in this time of crisis Garden State Film Festival, Chairman of the Board, Eric Ascalon stated, "Over this past weekend, with a shoestring budget, a small underpaid staff, some brilliant technicians, a legion of dedicated volunteers, a whole lot of passion, and a little bit of luck, we became the first indie festival in this Covid-19 world to essentially transform its complete real-time schedule, a weekend of 200+ films, from 'live venues' to 'livestreams'. Other festivals will follow our nimble lead, and still, others have or will cancel altogether, and that to me is unfortunate." 

Fans who participated in an unprecedented four-day, live-stream event on computers, tablets, and mobile phones found the perfect antidote through innovative entertainment during self-isolation, enjoying popcorn in their PJ's while streaming hundreds of feature-length films, shorts, documentaries, animation, student films, premieres, and more top-quality cinematic showmanship. The fans even had a chance to get interact with the filmmakers. Following each screening block, viewers enjoyed filmmaker talkbacks on Facebook and the audience loved being interactive. 

Each film played during their scheduled time over the four-day event.  GSFF plays a vital part in educating and showcasing the next generation of filmmakers and had over 40 High school films screen on Saturday and Sunday morning. This year, there were more than 50 world premieres, 80 New Jersey premieres, two dozen East Coast premieres and 15 United States premieres.  



Executive Director, Lauren Concar Sheehy & Vice Chair, Heather Brittain O'Scanlon hosted the Awards Ceremony on Facebook Live by practicing safe social distancing in the comfort of matching pj's, where the best in various categories of films and celebrity honorees were recognized. 

Lauren Concar Sheehy said, "I am intensely proud of our team. We believed in the opportunity to venture into a new digital frontier that could serve as a blueprint for festivals worldwide. We had a blast bringing global film fans GSFF 2020 through online and virtual exposures. We continue to engage audiences on an emotional level. We wanted to remove barriers and enable those around the globe to access a 'gathering' during a time where social distance is mandatory. We know there a positive impact on the relationship between arts and mental health. Events increase positive attitudes, including positive representations of people's contributions, capabilities and potential to recover and this online event will have the same impact."

Garden State Film Festival, Director of Operations, Kristen Dirato commented, "We were blown away by the number of people who tuned in to our 18th festival. Our legions of fans backed our monumental decision to stream online and they turned out in record numbers considering the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who was a part of a weekend we will never forget."

2020 Garden State Film Festival Award Winners

Narrative Feature
"Foster Boy" - Andrew Sugerman, Peter Samuelson, Anne-Marie Mackay, Jay Paul Deratany-Producers; Youssef Delara- Director

International Narrative Feature
"Be Good or be Gone" - Les Martin, Declan Mills, Catha Nally, Cainneach McEoin- Producers; Cathal Nally-Director

Family Feature
"Team Marco" - Sam Sandweiss-Producer; Julio Vincent Gambuto- Director

Bud Abbott Award for Comedy Feature
The Bellmen - Jason Adler, Cameron Fife, Kim Waltrip, Ken Schur, Michael J. Wickham, Samantha Herman, Beau Johnson-Producers; Cameron Fife-Director


M. Carroll Raver Award for Cinematography
"Guru Nanak"- Adam Krell

Horror/Thriller Feature

"Dark Harbor" - Edwin P Stevens, Cecilia E Stevens, Cory Pyke- Producers; Joe Raffa-Director

Narrative Short
"Pipe Dream" - Chris King, Heather King-Producers; Chris King- Director

Narrative Short-International
"It's Me" - Andrea Casaseca- Producer/Director

Lou Costello Award for Comedy Short
"Age of Bryce" - Brian Elliott, David Feagan-Producer/Directors

International Student-University

Comedy Short
"The West Kerry Cowboy" - Peter Kilmartin-Producer; Cian O Connor-Director

Family Short
"Tati's Fashion Show" - Stephanie Angel, Amir Arison-Producers; Amir Arison- Director

Emanuel "Manny" Berlingo Award Best Feature Documentary
"STALLONE: Frank, That Is" - Chris May, Emmett James-Producers; Derek Wayne Johnson-Director

Best International Feature Documentary
"Guru Nanak: The Founder of Sikhism - Life and Legacy" - Adam Krell-Producer; Gerald Krell- Producer/Directors

Best Short Documentary
"Tofino is a Place" - James Clower-Producer; Ryan Struck- Producer/Director

International Short Documentary
"Arrival Archives"- Suze Armstrong-Producer; Maya Bastian-Producer/Director

Animated Short
"Burning Bright" - Lisa Benson, Franceska Bucci, Aaron Bierman-Producer; Aaron Bierman-Director

International Animated Short
United Kingdom
"Master Moley By Royal Invitation" - Tony Nottage-Producer; Leon Joosen-Director

International Commercial
"Life is a Beautiful Journey" - Sven Greif-Producer/Director

Web Series/New Media
"Detention Adventure" - Executive Producer(s): Lauren Corber, Joe Kicak, Carmen Albano & Karen Moore; Director: Joe Kicak; Producer: Ryan West


Music Video
"Slow Dance" - Taylor Bradshaw-Producer; Travis Jones- Director

"Bharal" - Kathryn Carmichael-Producer; Jake L. Reid-Director

TV Pilot
Divorce School - Julie Zelman-Producer; Dana Marisa Schoenfeld- Producer/Director

Short University Graduate School
"A Home for Curiosities" - Shannon Ryan-Producer; Ben Tobin-Producer/Director

International Short Documentary University
"Amici del Mare" - Jackson Klarsfeld, Anthony Vitale, Benjamin Thomas Ward-Producers; Tara Guaimano-Director

International Narrative Short – High School
"Zoe" - Stjepan Kefelja-Producer; Marta Kruni?, Director

Short Animation – High School
"Margo " - (Light House Studio); Amelia Maxham-Producer/ Director; Libby Slaughter-Producer/ Director; Ben Clark-Producer/ Director; Summers Worthington-Producer/ Director; Johnny Krosby-Groner-Producer/ Director; Jhael J. Rasheed-Producer/ Director; Victoria Stiefvater-Producer/ Director; Conrad Heins-Producer/ Director; Nicholas Tennery-Producer/ Director; Jago Gould-Producer/ Director

Short Documentary – High School
"Dancing on Black & White" - (Metuchen High School); John Li, Director

NJ Hometown Documentary Short – High School
Barry Rosezweig - (Jackson Liberty High School); Amber Buckley, Alivia McGarry- Directors

The Garden State Film Festival would like to recognize films shot in the State of New Jersey with the following winners in the "Home Grown Award" categories:

Home Grown Feature
"Exit O" - Gregory Voigt-Producer; E.B. Hughes-Producer/Director

Home Grown Short
"Ironrite" - Kelsey Combe-Producer; Clayton Combe-Producer/Director

Home Grown Comedy Short
"Yet Another" - Eric Hartmann-Producer; Tim Disbrow-Producer/Director

Home Grown Animation Short
"Country Things" - B.E.F. Oakes-Producer/Director

Home Grown Animation Short Family
"Kazumi Racecar Pig" - David McBride-Director

Home Grown Documentary Short
"Unclaimed Remains" - Ernie Diorio, Richard Gough, Carol Redlund-Producers; Thomas Phillips-Producer/Director

Home Grown Commercial
Bayshore Center Promo - Collin Pritchard-Producer/Director


Home Grown Student Documentary Short – High School
Relay for Life - (Bridgewater - Ridge High School); Julia Schnarr-Producer/ Director

Home Grown Student PSA – High School
Words Kill - (Washington Township High School); Jenna Epley-Director 


The Garden State Film Festival Movie Music Competition Winners

Best Orchestration from A Documentary
"Determined - Triumphant Theme" - Composer:  Steven Chesne; Performed by: Virtual Instruments

Best Rap Song from a Short
"Comatose" - Composers: Jeremiah Kaufman; Performed by: Jeremiah Kaufman

Best Americana Orchestration from a Narrative Short
"Jake's Beginnings" - Composer: Cristina "Trinity" Vélez-Justo; Performed by: Virtual Instruments

Best Musical Score from a Historical Drama Short
"Julie's Theme" - Composer: Pancho Burgos-Goizueta; Performed by: Pancho Burgos-Goizueta

Best Blue Grass Orchestration from a Narrative Feature
"Days of Whiskey and Sunshine" - Composer: Cristina "Trinity" Vélez-Justo; Performed by: Virtual Instruments

Best Period Piece
"Henry the VIII" - Composer: Guy Renardeau; Performed by: Guy Renardeau

Best Musical Score from a Stop Motion Short
"Friends With Death" - Composer: Zac Silva & James McCaffrey; Performed by: Zac Silva, James McCaffrey, Kevin Grossman, Emily Grove & Cody McCorry

End Title Theme from a Feature Documentary
"My Father's Brothers" - Composer: Cristina "Trinity" Vélez-Justo; Performed by: Virtual Instruments

Best HomeGrown Indie Pop
"Bets Against the Void" - Composer: Elizabeth Lehman; Performed by: The Scary Jokes

Best Rap Theme from a Documentary Feature
"I'm a Movement" - Composed by: Intelligenz; Performed by: Intelligenz

Best Orchestration from An Animated Short
"The Ribbon" - Composer: Jonathan Galland; Performed by: Virtual Instruments

Best Orchestration from An International Mini-Series
"Walpurgisnacht – Die Mädchen und der Tod" - Composed by: Mathias Rehfeldt; Performed by: Mathias Rehfeldt

Garden State Screenplay Competition Winner-Short
"Standing in Water" - Kathleen Caprario-Ulrich

Garden State Screenplay Competition Winner-Feature Length
"The Last of the Burly Girls" - John Pisano-Thomsen



The Garden State Film Festival ("GSFF") is proud to announce the winners for its acting awards.

Shane Paul McGhie - "Foster Boy"

Jessica Sipos - "Dark Harbor"

Garry Pastore – "Shooting Heroin"

Jenny-Lee Masterson – "Be Good or Be Gone"

"Foster Boy" - Matthew Modine, Shane Paul McGhie, Lex Scott Davis, Julie Benz, Amy Brenneman, Evan Handler, Louis Gossett Jr., Michael Hyatt, Michael Beach, Dominic Burgess, Jordan Belfi, Krystian Alexander Lyttle

TJ Thyne – "Extra Innings"

DeAnna Toten Beard – "Age of Bryce"

Josiah Schreiber – "Walking Point"

Marta Belenguer – "It's Me"

Honorary Chair
Jack Ford

Icon Award
Linda Hamilton 

Lifetime Achievement
Matthew Modine

Patriot Award
Robert Patrick 

Independent Spirit
Tara Wood

Home Grown Hero
David Burke 


Exceptional Women In Film
Arianna Bocco 

Broader Vision Award
Rock And Roll Forever Foundation 

Nick Falcone 

Educator of the Year
Robin Kampf 

Renaissance Award
Perry Lang  

Rising Star
Ashley Platz  

originally published: 04/01/2020

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