Last year, the Garden State Film Festival was the first festival in the world to transition to an all virtual format. The audiences loved it. Producers are working with F&S Digital again to make GSFF 2021 a hybrid virtual and live event. This year’s festival takes place March 23-28 and will bring a hybrid of selected live events and screenings along with the virtual screening of 300+ films that include an incredible variety of feature and short length dramas, thrillers, comedies, documentaries, student films, foreign films, videos and web series, music, and more! Viewers can also virtually connect with the filmmaker interviews, question and answer sessions and even the awards presentation.
“We promise to bring a diverse and carefully chosen selection of films, music videos, and animated works. There is something for all tastes and ages. The GSFF is a celebration of independent film that you can’t see anywhere else, all from the safety and comfort of your home, hotel room or in person" said Executive Director, Lauren Concar Sheehy.
Some of the highlights include “WBGO Story: The Bright Moments from Newark to the World” screening on March 25. In the 1970’s a group of urban leaders and community activists looking to make a positive change in Newark created New Jersey’s first public radio station, WBGO. This small station now reaches millions of jazz listeners around the world. You can read the New Jersey Stage feature on the film here.
The Friday Night official opening film “7 Days to Vegas” is inspired by a true story about Hollywood big shots who will bet on anything. The film features Jennifer Tilly , Vince and James Van Patten, Ross McCall, Eileen Davidson, Danny Pardo, John O’Hurley and many more.
Saturday, March 27 features these three films among hundreds more. Daniel Baldwin along with his brothers, Alec, Stephen and William, present the documentary, “My Promise to PJ”. PJ Raynor was promised that if he stayed sober for 2 years from heroin he could run with the bulls in Pamplona Spain. PJ unfortunately relapsed and died, but actor Daniel Baldwin took his ashes and ran with the bulls himself, fulfilling his promise.
There’s also the comedy “Reboot Camp”, which is the story of Seymour who loses his life savings and his wife to a self-help guru. Seymour is on a mission to expose false prophets who fleece people for money. Featuring David Lipper, David Koechner, Ja Rule, Chaz Bono and Ed Begley Jr.
Another is the HomeGrown Feature “Wisper”. Based on a 2016 true story of the murder of a middle-class African American family in Northern New Jersey, “Wisper” traces the crime, based loosely on the personal videotapes and diaries of the father of the victims. “Wisper” stars Christian Barber, the recipient of the Garden State Film Festival Rising Star Award.
The festival films include appearances by many well-known stars including: Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), Daniel Baldwin (Hawaii Five-0), Alec Baldwin (The Departed), Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects), William Baldwin (Backdraft), Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Forrest Gump), David Koechner (Anchorman), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell), Ja Rule (The Fast and the Furious), Vince Van Patten (World Poker Tour), James Van Patten (Saw IV), Ed Asner (Elf), David Lipper (Fuller House), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), Chaz Bono (American Horror Story), Ed Begley Jr (Pineapple Express), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Gabriel Rush (Moonrise Kingdom), Sean Young (Blade Runner), Jennifer Tilly (The Bride of Chucky), Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), Joseph Bologna (Lovers and Other Strangers), Renee Taylor (Lovers and Other Strangers), Edin Gali (Fury), Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy), Kim Wayans (In Living Color), Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible), Jason Kravitz (The Practice), Abigail Hawk (Blue Bloods), Bo Dietl (The Wolf of Wall Street) Jacob A. Ware (Boardwalk Empire), Anthony Arkin (The Americans), RJ Brown (The Carrie Diaries), , Ross Mccall (Band of Brothers), Eileen Davidson (The Young and the Restless), Willie Garson (Sex in the City), Lucas Bryant (The Vow), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld), James Kyson (Preacher), Danny Pardo (SEAL Team), Don Stark (That 70s Show), Anthony Geary (General Hospital) to name a few.
There are many neighborhood actors, writers, producers and directors represented in this year’s events. Leading the pack is Rumson’s Siobhan Fallon Hogan who will present the trailer of her soon to be theatrically released feature film, “Rushed”. Among the GSFF music competition winners is Rumson’s Kyle Ward’s song, “Barbara’s Theme”. Get an early peek at this gripping drama. Rumson’s Abbey Koshak also screens her short documentary “Plastic Pollution & Easy Solutions” and fellow Rumsonite Benjamin Q. Danzi has a mockumentary called “Dangerous Fantasy”.
The youngest filmmaker is Holmdel’s nine-year-old Anna-Sofia DeStefano, a fourth grader at Indian Hill, who offers the scary student short, “The Book”.
Returning this year is Fair Haven’s Chris Brenner with “Against the Tide: A Surfer's Journey”.
Heather Brittain O’Scanlon of Little Silver, Nancy Menagh of New York and Lauren Concar Sheehy of Colts Neck teamed up to supply the exciting thriller, “Victim No. 6”.
Colts Neck’s Jordan Goldstein also shares the student short thriller, “Blood is Thicker”.
And of course, Christopher Corey will be showcasing many of the fantastic student films produced in his Film and TV Production classes at Middletown High School South. Corey received the first Educator of the Year Award. This year’s winner is Christopher Dudick of Monmouth Beach for his outstanding work on SILAS, a software that Fosters Student Mental and Behavioral Health through Social and Emotional Learning. This recognition will go a long way in helping him reach his goals of helping special needs children.
Live events (all are limited in size and observe state mandates) include the Friday Night Gala Cocktail Party with industry professionals, red carpet photos and the screening of the Opening Night film. Other live events include the student films and concluding Awards Reception at The Asbury Lanes. (Awards event is a separate ticket). Be sure to check the schedule to see which are hybrid and which are virtual only.
That’s just some of what you’ll see. You can watch movie after movie after movie or switch over to other events like the live reading of the winning screenplay, plus industry related workshops.
Tune in on Wednesday, March 24, for a virtual wellness event, Meditation, Yoga, and Creativity, with New Jersey’s own Jillian Pransky. Jillian will lead an inspiring conversation with NY Times best-selling writer Dani Shapiro. Conversation will be followed with a short practice geared to all levels - including the brand-new beginner. You'll learn a simple technique you can practice in just a few minutes, anywhere, anytime.
We'll also share how simple practices can bolster and nourish your mental and physical health - particularly at this time of covid.
While yoga and meditation are often thought of as a tool to help us find ease in the body, quiet the mind, and get in touch with our true nature, it can also be a way of helping us tap our creative selves. Meditation and yoga grant us access to the deep places of our psyche and consciousness that inspire creative ideas to emerge, while simultaneously offering us tools to work with some of our biggest obstacles as artists. No matter what kind of art you call your own, your yoga practice can more fully connect you with your creative mind, body, and soul.
You will also hear the festival’s Movie Music Competition’s award-winning musical compositions played before the screenings and on the GSFF website. Add to that specialty events, after parties and lots more surprises. The best deal is the $55 Virtual Multi-Pass that grants access to all Virtual Films, March 24-28. Tickets for one single screening block are $20.
Visit gsff.org for tickets, screening schedules and tons of cool info.