(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- The New Jersey Web Festival (NJ WebFest) returns September 16-19, 2021. Since 2018, the festival has brought international digital media to New Jersey, joining the ranks of Los Angeles; Seoul, Korea; Marseille, France; Melbourne, Australia; and other global markets that host webfests annually. In its first year, the NJ WebFest became one of the “Top-100 Best Reviewed Festivals” in the world, based on filmmaker reviews on Film Freeway, an online submission portal that hosts 10,000 festivals globally.
This year, the NJ WebFest makes history as the first webfest to expand to include Fiction Podcasts, giving this massively popular art form a film festival experience for the first time and paving the way for more industry professionals to learn about the fiction podcast medium. There are 58 fiction podcast series from around the world accepted to the festival, joining the 175 web series, music videos, pilots, and trailers that are in the 2021 NJ WebFest.
The four-day festival will include a series of workshops hosted by prominent writers, actors, and industry leaders, including a talkback with “Love Life” Co-Showrunner Rachelle Williams, and Masterclasses with Emmy-Award winner Chris Cluess & longtime TV producer Dan Pasternack. The festival will also present more than 225 screenings of web series, fiction podcasts, and music videos from all over the world.
Notable entries from the 230+ official selections are Mission Possible with Eric LeGrand, guest starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; Click on This Show, guest starring Kevin and Michael Bacon; Dark Dice, starring Jeff Goldblum; and Meet Cute, featuring legendary 90s singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb (“Stay”) in a supporting role.
The closing award ceremonies and receptions for both the Web Series and Fiction Podcast divisions of the festival will be held at The Manor in West Orange, NJ, on Sunday, September 19. Seventy total awards will be presented at the highly-acclaimed galas, including “Direct Selection” awards, in which shows will be sent to New Jersey’s partner festivals, such as Seoul Webfest, Rio Webfest, New Zealand Webfest, and others. Additionally, $200 cash prizes will be awarded to the winners of the festival’s pitch contest, titled “The 200-Dollar Dash.”
The New Jersey Web Festival program will be as follows:
Thursday, September 16, 2021
1) Opening Welcome Ceremony, Vanguard Theater Company, 180 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, 9:00am.
2) Screenings/Talkbacks at Vanguard Theater Company beginning at 10:00am.
3) Panels, Vanguard Theater Company, 2:30pm Let’s Synergize, a conversation on finding synergies between Web Series and Fiction Podcast creators with industry veteran Elena Moscatt and NJ WebFest Board Member Ned Donovan.
4) Screenings/Talkbacks at Vanguard Theater Company continue at 5:00pm.
Friday, September 17, 2021
1) Screenings/Talkbacks, Vanguard Theater Company, 180 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, 9:00am.
2) Workshop, Vanguard Theater Company, 2:30pm: Rachelle Williams, Co-Showrunner of HBO Max’s “Love Life” talks to festival attendees about how she brings character, heart, and humor to her comedy.
3) 200-Dollar Dash!, Vanguard Theater Company, an “elevator pitch” contest with the winners receiving $200. The twist: Web Series attendees will pitch Fiction Podcast creators and vice versa!
4) Screenings/Talkbacks at Vanguard Theater Company continue at 4:30pm.
5) Official After-Party at Just Jake’s, 30 Park St, Montclair, 6:30pm
Saturday, September 18, 2021
1) Screenings/Talkbacks, Vanguard Theater Company, 180 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, 9:30am
2) Masterclasses, Vanguard Theater Company, 2:30pm: Emmy Award-Winning industry veteran Chris Cluess of “Night Court”, “The Simpsons”, and more leads a Masterclass on writing the best characters and engaging dialogue; Executive Producer Dan Pasternack, who worked with ITV and Adult Swim, among others, leads a Masterclass on the hardest part of getting a show made, The Art of the Pitch.
3) Special Guest: Bryan Thompson, Vanguard Theater Company, successful indie creator and Miami WebFest founder Bryan Thompson talks about how he is so successful at producing and distributing content, and has a special announcement about the future of his festival.
4) Screenings/Talkbacks Continue, Vanguard Theater Company, 4:30pm
Sunday, September 19, 2021
1) The Inaugural Fiction Podcast Awards Gala, at The Manor, 111 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, 12pm: dining, DJ, entertainment, and the presentation of 27 awards.
2) Red Carpet Web Series Awards Gala, at The Manor, 111 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, 7pm: dining, unlimited drinks, DJ, entertainment, and the presentation of 50 awards.
Award-winning web series creator Neem Basha, an alumnus of several web and film festivals as creator of web series Neem’s Themes, founded the New Jersey Web Festival after seeing the emergence of webfests worldwide.
“After my show Neem’s Themes was selected to take part in – and won awards at – several web festivals around the world, I made relationships with the festival directors and learned a lot about what it takes to run a festival,” said Neem Basha, NJ WebFest founder and director. “I realized that, with over 60 web festivals throughout the US and the world, New Jersey was conspicuously missing from the web festival map. As soon as we announced the festival in 2017, hundreds of international shows submitted, global festivals partnered with us, and the buzz online in the web series community was palpable. Folks were ready for a New Jersey WebFest. And now, in year three, following a year off due to the pandemic, we are primed and ready to deliver the best edition yet.”
“We at the Seoul Webfest and Asia Web Awards strongly support our Jersey partners,” said Young Man Kang, founder of the Seoul Webfest. “As the director of the only web series festival in Asia, and a long-time filmmaker, I can see that the NJ WebFest has quickly made its mark among festivals, and will continue to grow bigger and better.”
“The New Jersey WebFest epitomizes what a festival should be,” said Bryan Thompson, founder of the Miami Webfest. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve been to a great deal of festivals; I can honestly say that the New Jersey WebFest keeps getting better every year. I look forward to being part of it again in 2021.”
All filmmakers received a complimentary VIP pass to attend all the events. Supporters and fans can purchase tickets at filmfreeway.com/NJWebFest/tickets.