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Garden State Film Festival shares festival highlights


New Jersey's Premier Independent Film Festival®






Awards Banquet tickets are SELLING FAST.

  The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) will welcome celebrities, filmmakers and fans back to its original home in Asbury Park, from Thursday, March 22nd through Sunday, March 25th at many local venues for the Festival's spectacular 16th Anniversary Celebration. The dazzling four-day weekend event celebrates the best in international and local cinema and will feature exciting networking opportunities, instructive hands-on workshops, an open talent casting call, screenplay competition winner reading, intriguing and informative panel discussions, and entertaining and fun parties - all in addition to the over 245 fabulous film screenings scheduled throughout the Festival. GSFF is New Jersey's Premier Independent Film Festival and was named winner of the 2017 Global Excellence Awards 'Best Independent Film Festival - East Coast' by TMT News.

The Garden State Film Festival kicks off its "Sweet 16" anniversary with an exclusive "Meet the Filmmakers" cash bar cocktail reception and screening event on Thursday evening, March 22nd, at 6:30 p.m., in Asbury Hall in The Asbury Hotel at which attendees can mix and mingle with the filmmakers whose exceptional works will be featured throughout the weekend. Following the reception and included in the ticket, a screening of selected upcoming Festival film trailers will be offered for attendees to schedule the films they are excited to see.
**Enter the Asbury through the doors on the LEFT to get to the Asbury Hall. The right brings you into the hotel lobby.

On Friday evening, March 23rd, the weekend's first film screening will immediately follow an elegant star-studded Red-Carpet Gala Networking Event and Cocktail Party, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Convention Hall. This year Hollywood royalty Monika Henreid is acting as Gala Chair. The daughter of "Casablanca" film star Paul Henreid, Ms. Henreid grew up amidst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's lights, cameras and action. A seasoned actress and producer in her own right, Henreid has numerous film credits to her name. Henreid is in the process of honoring her father with a book and related film documentary about his extraordinary life above and beyond his contribution to Hollywood's Golden Age. Her fact-finding has involved frequent travel between the U.S. and Europe to reconstruct her father's life on film, one she calls an "extraordinary story of survival." Henreid is writing, producing, directing and crowd-funding for the project, which is entitled PAUL HENREID BEYOND VICTOR LASZLO.

In addition to approximately 245+ film screenings which will be scheduled throughout the weekend, other highly-anticipated Festival events set for Saturday and Sunday include a dynamic hands-on animation workshop presented by Academy Award-nominated LAIKA Studios, several stimulating professional panel discussions, and a live read of the screenplay competition winner. The Festival concludes with a lavish Awards Banquet on Sunday evening.

Garden State Film Festival 2018 honorees will be in attendance at the Festival throughout the weekend and they will receive their awards at the black-tie-optional Awards Banquet at The English Manor on Sunday, March 25th.

 This year's honorees and VIP's include:

1.    Brian Cheripka - 2017 Honorary Chair: Brian Cheripka joined iStar Financial in November 2010 as Senior VP of Land and Development.  He is directly responsible for one of iStar's largest land assets, the Asbury Park Waterfront, and drives strategic planning, valuation, acquisitions, entitlements, sales, marketing and horizontal site construction. Over the past fifteen years, Cheripka's experience has ranged from entitlement and site acquisition, to financing and vertical development. Prior to joining iStar, Cheripka handled projects for Trammell Crow Residential and the Homebuilding and Construction Products Group for UBS Investment Bank. In addition, Cheripka served as Assistant Director of Investor Relations for Hovnanian Enterprises. Cheripka received a B.A. from Villanova University, where he was a recipient of the George C. Marshall Leadership Award (ROTC).  Upon graduation, he spent four years on active duty, serving as a U.S. Army Ranger assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Cheripka is a member of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and Urban Land Institute (ULI).

2.    Xander Berkeley - Lifetime Achievement Award: Currently best-known for his role as 'Gregory' in AMC's critically-acclaimed television series "The Walking Dead," now in its 8th season, New Jersey actor Xander Berkeley is also an accomplished painter, sculptor, and make-up artist. A graduate of Hampshire College, Berkeley studied in NYC with private teachers from the Royal Academy of the Arts, the Moscow Arts Theater and HB Studios and later, Lee Strasberg at The Actor's Studio in Los Angeles. Berkeley worked in Regional and Repertory Theaters in addition to off-Broadway while living in New York but, despite a classically trained theater background, he was increasingly drawn to the subtleties of film acting. Berkeley made his film debut in "Mommie Dearest" and has since amassed over 231 television and film credits. With roles in obscure independent films to big budget studio motion pictures, Berkeley has worked with some of the industry's most renowned directors, including Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann and Wolfgang Petersen. He has two new feature films being released early this year, including the action thriller "Proud Mary" and crime biography "Labyrinth."  His leading role in "The Maestro" earned Berkeley a 'Best Actor' award at the Oaxaca International Film Festival in 2017.

3.    Armand Assante - 2018 MVP: - Armand Assante has been named MVP in recognition of his continued support of the GSFF's efforts. Born in 1949 in New York City, he received his dramatic training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  Following his first screen in the cult film "The Lords of Flatbush," Assante appeared on several soap operas before his breakthrough role in "Private Benjamin."  Playing characters as diverse as Mike Hammer to John Gotti to Odysseus, Assante remains in strong demand with dozens of recent credits in both film and television, including his starring role this year's opening film "The Wanderers- The Quest of the Demon Hunter.


4.    Ellie Lee - Rising Star Award: Ellie Lee was born and raised in Bergen County, NJ. She has been a TV/digital entertainment host for MTV K, VH1 News, Amazon Video, People Style, and is currently the on-camera host for iHeartRadio. She has made appearances as an entertainment reporter on "The Wendy Williams Show," E!'s daytime show, "Daily Pop," and was a correspondent on VH1's "Big Morning Buzz Live" hosted by Nick Lachey. More recently as an actor, she has made her debut in independent short films as well as indie feature film, "I CAN I WILL I DID" which screens the festival on Saturday, March 24.

5.     Angelight Films - Broader Vision Award: Angelight Films is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit production company that gives children with brain and spinal cord tumors the opportunity to express themselves by creating and even starring in their own short film.


6.    Christopher Corey - 2018 Educator of the Year: Christopher Corey is both a filmmaker and a NJ public school teacher.  He has over 10 years' experience teaching Film and TV Production at the high school level.  Over the last decade, his students have consistently won awards for their work and they have exhibited their films in numerous local, national, and international film festivals. Before he began teaching, Corey worked for 8 years in New York City with various production companies.  He currently teaches at Middletown High School South in Monmouth County.

Other notable filmmakers and actors planning to attend the 2018 Garden State Film Festival include Ed Asner, Siobhan Fallon Hogan and Mark Shapiro of LAIKA Studios just to name a few.


GSFF Executive Director Lauren Concar says, "For the past 16 years, the Garden State Film Festival has been achieving its mission of promoting the art of film making on all levels, and we've been having a lot of fun doing it!" Concar enthusiastically invites anyone who enjoys movies and film making to this year's Festival. She ads, "This year, we are so excited to be home in Asbury Park! We're planning a lot more fun, and we'll once again showcase amazing films by independent filmmakers from around the world. Plus, the Festival is a fabulous learning opportunity, too, where industry leaders share their knowledge and skills at our workshops and events." The Festival's events are listed along with the complete film screening schedule on the Garden State Film Festival website at glance- 


This year's participating venues include the historic Paramount Theatre, Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, The Asbury, House of Independents, Jersey Shore Arts Center, the Asbury Park Senior Center, and Asbury Park Council Chambers inside City Hall. Free jitney service will be offered throughout the weekend. Two related apps are available for download; one for the volunteers and one for the patrons, both will link to the City's Parking APP and may be found on the GSFF website at


With funding for arts organizations at an all-time low in the State of New Jersey, the Festival is requesting as much assistance as possible with ad sales, sponsor leads and volunteers who share a commitment to supporting independent film and the arts. GSFF provides numerous sponsorship and advertising opportunities at every level. Sponsorship is an excellent vehicle for businesses to promote themselves locally and regionally. Sponsors receive broad exposure and high visibility at the Festival. For more information about sponsorship, contact GSFF at (732) 359-6467 or


In addition to meeting and mingling with filmmakers and celebrities and other exciting perks, volunteers will receive a special badge that provides access to the Friday night cocktail party, film screenings, panel discussions and after parties. Those interested in volunteering can contact GSFF at for more information.


Individual film screening tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Weekend Passes for the Festival are $50 and includes all events and film screenings - except the Awards Banquet on Sunday evening.

Day Passes are also available - the Saturday Day Pass is $30 and Sunday Day Pass is $25. Tickets for the Friday night Gala Cocktail Party & Screening are $30 (two for $55). Sunday Night Awards Banquet advance-purchase tickets are $140 each (early-bird price) and $130 (early-bird price) for entire table (seats 10). Tickets are available at  








For social media updates on the GSFF, please visit:

Facebook: :




Hashtag: #GSFF #gsffasburypark #asburyparkfilmfestival
              #GSFF2018 #AsburyPark #AsburyParkNow







The Garden State Film Festival would not be possible without the support of our sponsors: 



6343cfd9-1af4-4a96-80c7-f5c7b6bfc2d2.jpg   For more information about the Garden State Film Festival, contact:










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