By: Jessica Schirripa
This weekend was way more than just ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ It was the 17th annual Garden State Film Festival, which is a movie buff’s ticket to an inside look of the magic of cinema, all while paying tribute to New Jersey’s legacy as the birthplace of American film-making.
Held at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, the GSFF is one of the largest celebrations of the arts throughout the state of New Jersey. To be a part of this premier statewide initiative is to be a part of one of the most respected independent film festivals along the East Coast.
The vision of this film festival has blossomed into a renowned event that serves as a platform for both the filmmakers and the enthusiasts. It breeds creativity and passion, and even generates huge revenue for New Jersey’s very own city of the arts, Asbury Park, through storefront merchants and other associations at large!
Filled with ‘Best of Fests’, award ceremonies, celebrity guest appearances and overwhelming community support, this edition of the film festival proved to be one of the busiest and most impressive productions to date. Throughout the five day, ten venue commemoration, there were over 240 international films showcased. It also provided hands-on creative workshops open to the public, casting calls, back to back Q & A panels with the actors and filmmakers, non-stop after-parties, and more!
While attending Friday evening’s kick-off gala, the energy pulsated throughout the convention center. I was greeted with flashing lights, red carpets, and wall- to-wall local sponsors highlighting their own crafted foods, sweet treats and specialty services. It was neat to see the casts and crews of the movies, media and committee mixing and mingling the night away. It was the perfect way to experience Hollywood’s glitz & glam right off the boardwalk, especially since Asbury Park has been profoundly impacted by the Garden State Film Festival. In fact, the GSFF has played a leading role in the transformation from a city in urban decay into what is now referred to as “one of the coolest towns in America”. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who was one of the many A-List attendees, was beaming with Garden State pride as he watched all who have been captivated by cinematic adventure.
Aside from the dedicated board of directors, an army of volunteers, and everyone involved in the creation of these films, there was a legion of intense super-fans who were treated to complimentary trolley rides and parking. This was a nice touch to help treat those who attended the festival from beyond the Jersey Shore.
The best part about the success of this weekend’s Garden State Film Festival was that it was an opportunity to be inspired and inspire others. A festival like this provides eager filmmakers an avenue to reach new audiences and be recognized for their skills and hard work. Even though there is the element of competition throughout the showcase, everyone is there to encourage each other and motivate other budding talent to go for their dreams!
For more information, visit GSFF.org.