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Garden State Film Festival Returns March 21-24

originally published: 02/22/2024

Garden State Film Festival Returns March 21-24

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) returns for its 22nd year March 21-24, 2024 with screenings in Asbury Park and Cranford, showcasing over 200 films from 14 countries in eight venues. GSFF rolls out the red carpet for a fusion of world premieres, Hollywood luminaries, and interactive industry panels.

The festival is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the art of storytelling, with a variety of films, engaging panels, live podcasts, and not-to-be-missed parties. This year’s lineup boasts notable figures such as Matthew Modine, Bridget Moynahan, Ed Begley Jr., Armand Assante, Lisa Edelstein, Mad Money's Jim Cramer, Richard Schiff, Carla Raij, Janice Kovach, and sports legends Louis Neglia and Joe Pyfer. The GSFF is a testament to New Jersey’s storied film history and a hub for producers, directors, actors, investors, and industry talents.

The festival honors the booming filmmaking scene in New Jersey, bolstered by Governor Murphy’s attractive financial incentives and a nurturing film-friendly environment. Special categories like High School and Younger and Home Grown highlight local talents and productions, reinforcing New Jersey’s diverse and scenic landscapes as a filmmaking destination.

Here are some of the festival highlights.

The Martini Shot - Friday 3/22/24 at 8:30pm, The Asbury Hall.  This existential drama follows an ailing movie director as he begins to shoot what he believes to be his final work of art. What starts out as a normal movie ends up being an exploration of mortality and one's profound effect on the world. The cast includes Matthew Modine, John Cleese, Derek Jacobi, Fiona Glascott, and more!

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Don Q - Saturday, 3/23/24 at 6:15pm, Asbury Lanes. Fans of Armand Assante can see him on the big screen as he starts in Don Q. Directed by Claudio Bellante. Other key cast includes Federico Castelluccio, Saundra Santiago, Vincent Pastore, Chuck Zito, and more! The cast of characters coming in and going out of Don Q’s life seems endless until the final dramatic showdown between rival factions. What will become of Don Q? Will he return to his old life as the reclusive Al Quinto and accept that change, in a shrinking Little Italy is unavoidable, or will he press on as Don Q and continue to live for his dreams and fight the good fight?

SWIPE NYC - Saturday 3/23/24 at 6:15pm, The Asbury Hall. Directed by New Jersey’s Sue Zarco Kramer, Lisa Eldelstein (House, Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, The Kaminsky Method) leads the cast with her unparalleled, comedic pathos. Her eyes say it all. She co-stars with A-list talent Richard Schiff (Black Panther Wukunda, The Good Doctor, West Wing) & Bridge Moynahan (IRobot, Blue Bloods) along with a stellar list of supporting actors.

American Royalty - Sunday, 3/23/24 at 2:15pm, Asbury Lanes.  Directed by John Daniel Fisher and Stephen Andrew Fisher. Since 1921, the Miss America Pageant has been an iconic institution that inspired women and men alike, especially in New Jersey. Granting scholarships to its participants and leading the way in service organizations around the world, the Miss America institution blazed a humanitarian trail. In recent years, growing cynicism and public controversies have marred the once-celebrated pageant and placed its future on uncertain ground.

The GSFF offers several categories for films and filmmakers of all kinds. The Hometown Documentary Series was created by the GSFF, Artists Alike Studios, the New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission, and the New Jersey School Boards Association with the winner receiving a $500 prize from the NJSBA to the school the student attends.  The High School film blocks screen on Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24th at the Berkeley.

There are $250.00 prizes sponsored by UARTS [University of the Arts] for the following two categories: the best Home Grown High School and Younger Film & Home Grown Animation High School Animation. 

“GSFF is proud to assist in providing advocacy and support to advance public education. We believe in the transformative power of arts education to substantially improve children’s lives and academic outcomes, and prepare them for 21st-century careers,” said Lauren Concar Sheehy, Executive Director. “GSFF has high school and younger categories,” continued Concar, “which many families and grandparents attend to celebrate their child’s achievement and to explore the career and technology resources we offer. It's a great way to get a better understanding of your filmmaker's passion and the opportunities that are available to them.” There is also The Roger Conant & Garden State Film Festival Scholarship at Brookdale Community College.

The Awards Dinner on March 24 is an event honoring this year’s distinguished guests, with Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach serving as the Honorary Chair. Other honorees include Carla Raij, recognized for her exceptional work in film, David Diianni as Educator of the Year, Rising Star recipient Sophia Lucia Parola, and photographer Tom Zapcic, the 2024 MVP.

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The festivities commence with a "Meet the Filmmakers" cocktail party and include a Gala Cocktail Reception, the red-carpet premiere of "The Martini Shot," and a screenplay reading of "The Dude Is Legit!"


Garden State Film Festival Returns March 21-24

2024 celebrity attendees include Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Armand Assante (Gotti), Lisa Eldelstein (Girlfriends Guide to Divorce), Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods), Ed Begley Jr. (Pineapple Express), Lisa Edelstein, Jim Cramer (Mad Money), Richard Schiff (Black Panther Wukunda), Federico Castelluccio (The Sopranos), MMA’s Louis Neglia, UFC’s Joe Pyfer, and more!

"For 22 years, the Garden State Film Festival has been showcasing New Jersey talent and bringing outstanding talent to New Jersey from around the world," said Executive Director Lauren Concar Sheehy.  “We hope you will join us and support our efforts in the State of New Jersey to use the cinematic arts not only to bring the best in a cultural event to our state, but to support our outreach programs throughout the entire state and throughout the year to seniors, underserved youth and our military among others.”

The Garden State Film Festival is New Jersey's Premier Independent Film Festival®. Now in its 22nd year, the GSFF, a 501-c-3non- profit organization, is a global destination festival that stimulates economic growth in New Jersey through the arts. It also promotes student creativity, makes the arts accessible to underserved populations and preserves heritage arts. 



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