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Garden State Film Festival Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Celebrate 20 Years


Honorary Chair
First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy


Educator of the Year


Project Seven for Soldiers 

Using filmmaking for the greater good
Asbury Park, N.J. March 3, 2022 – New Jersey's Premier Independent Film Festival will roll out the red carpet to celebrate 20 years and returns live this year bigger and better than ever. Following 2020's virtual and 2021's successful hybrid events, this year returns to in person screenings and events. Running In person March 23 – 27 in Cranford and Asbury Park, NJ, followed by a week of Virtual Access March 28-April 3, 2022. Screening this year are more than 200 films from 17 countries, hosting parties, professional panels, events, special honors and more. 

Asked to reflect on the past 20 years and the festival's exciting growth, Founder of the Festival, Diane Raver shared "The show must go on! Every year the GSFF, a nonprofit organization, pays tribute to Thomas Edison's legacy and the state of New Jersey as the birthplace of the American filmmaking industry. It was right here in Thomas Edison's Menlo Park, NJ, laboratories where he invented the first film cameras and projectors". 

  The GSFF event provides novice and aspiring filmmakers, actors, and others interested in careers in the film business, the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals in an atmosphere conducive to learning and mentoring. "We're so excited to be back with a full, live festival, operating safely of course," said Lauren Concar Sheehy, Executive Director of the Festival. "And we look forward to continuing to provide a platform to showcase filmmakers and directors from all walks of life and we are thrilled to give people the total festival experience. An added bonus this year is the Festival will also run virtually from March 28 thru April 3rd."

First to walk the Festival's red carpet will be NJ's First Lady, Tammy Murphy who is the Honorary Chair of the event.  Tammy Snyder Murphy, wife of New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy congratulates the many creative minds and talents of the Garden State and beyond.  Mrs. Murphy has been dedicated to improving the quality of life globally and here in New Jersey.  The Garden State Film Festival is very honored to have an Honorary Chair who works so diligently to support the arts and make New Jersey a better place to live.
Other honorees Include this years Educator of the Year, Louis Libitz.  Louis Libitz is a filmmaker and an educator. Working in experimental, narrative and documentary styles, his video works have been exhibited in festivals/galleries nationally and internationally. 

Louis has more than 15 years of experience teaching Film/Video/Media Arts at the high school and university level. Currently, he is the tenured instructor of Digital Filmmaking at the School of the Arts on East Brunswick's campus of Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. He has garnered many awards for his tireless work inspiring the next generation of New Jersey filmmakers. His students regularly receive official selections/awards recognition for their short films at numerous local, national and international film festivals. Big congrats to Louis, and keep up the great work!

  Broader Vision Award | Using Filmmaking for the Greater Good goes to Dawson's Peak for "Project Seven for Soldiers"

Project Seven for Soldiers follows sponsored athlete Matt Dawson's remarkable attempt to set seven world records to raise awareness for veterans. Dawson's activities include multiple polar expeditions, global mountain climbing, a global circumnavigation flight, an oceanic crossing, and a desert traverse. He completed each, all while chronicling it on video. All net proceeds from "Project Seven for Soldiers" will benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation and Hope for The Warriors as these organizations provide comprehensive support to meet the critical needs of military veterans and their families in their transition from military service to civilian life. The Garden State Film Festival is proud to recognize Matt Dawson and the worthy organizations he supports through this project.

  The festival will kick off at the Cranford Theater in Cranford, NJ. "We are thrilled to welcome back the GSFF for their second year at The Cranford Theater," said owner Doreen Sayegh. "The festival provides a great opportunity for our guests to experience wonderful independent films on the big screen."  The Cranford Theater will offer a round of thriller short films on Wednesday, including the Home-Grown (New Jersey) "Hide!" Additionally, the Home-Grown (New Jersey) feature-length film "Splinter."  "We are fans of what Doreen Sayegh brings to the community," said Lauren Concar Sheehy. "Doreen's distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus is in alignment with the women that execute the GSFF."

  Next is a not to be missed open to the public event at Asbury Lanes on Thursday, March 23rd, where guests will have the opportunity to view a selection of trailers of the upcoming films at the festival's "Meet the Filmmakers" Preview Event.  An after party follows the screening to top it all off.  Friday evening, March 25th is the Gala Cocktail Reception with the red-carpet premiere of the Irish film, Redemption of a Rogue with special guests in attendance. On Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th, film screenings will be at various locations. The in-person portion of the festival concludes with a Black-Tie optional Awards Dinner on Sunday evening, March 27th at the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park.

  Another not to be missed highlight is the Festival's Industry Days events which serves as the central hub for the Tri-State area based and visiting filmmakers to connect with and learn from industry experts through panels, workshops, master classes, and networking events. Included in these not to be missed events are the following:
PANEL DISCUSSION | SAG-AFTRA Contract Presentation for Independent Filmmaking $15
March 27, 2022 | 10:00am - 12:00 PM
Presented by the National Director of Background & NY Entertainment Contracts Stephanie Perry and Manager of SAG-AFTRA Entertainment Contracts Leif Larson, join us as you walk through the process of completing all types of union contracts, what types of films need which contracts, budget information, and much more. You will be presented with all the information and resources needed to properly complete and submit contracts for your SAG-AFTRA projects. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

PANEL DISCUSSION | Avoiding Legal Pitfalls in Indie Filmmaking        VIRTUAL ONLY
Saturday, April 2, 2022 9:00am - 11:00am
Hosted by: New Jersey State Bar Association NJSBA
Moderator | Alexandru D. Aldea, Esq.
Panel: Gary Laurie, Law Office of Gary A. Laurie, Esq., David Gold, Cole Schotz, Ronald Bienstock, Scarinci & Hollenbeck.

Garden State Film Festival Winning Feature SCREENPLAY TABLE READ via ZOOM
Presented by: Project Write Now
This is included in the Multi-Pass.

Reading and discussion of SHELTER IN SOLITUDE, written by award winning actor, Siobhan Fallon Hogan's screenplay about a faith-filled, country western, prison love story told during Covid times.  It is the story of a wannabe country singer, Val, (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) and her unconventional relationship with Jackson Marcus.

This screenplay is a social commentary on the inhumane conditions of the American prison system. If one determined, uneducated woman can bring humanity to the system, why can't the US government?

  GSFF has assembled a tremendous team of partners to bring your students fantastic educational programs and satisfies New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. 

School Field Trip | Esports and Virtual Reality
March 23-April 3
Sponsored by  New Jersey Natural Gas
Joshua Kell, Chief Executive Officer at Horizon AVL and Esports Integration 
Chris Boehmer, Director, Brookdale Community College Esports 

Open to all Middle, High Schools and College Students  
"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" said Concar Sheehy.
  To celebrate the Garden State Film Festival's 20 years of movie magic and impressive lineup of films and events, visit today to purchase tickets. 


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