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Mar 09, 2020

18th Annual Garden State Film Festival Returns with a Fifth Day

By Lori Draz

Steven Van Zandt

The internationally recognized Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) returns Wednesday, March 25 through Sunday, March 29. It’s an annual event that can and has changed lives. The GSFF celebrates the best in international and local cinema along with exciting networking opportunities with actors, producers and industry leaders, workshops, a live screenplay reading, informative panel discussions and fun parties – in addition to the more than 240 fabulous films scheduled throughout the festival!

The Journal is proud to be returning as the Presenting Sponsor of this can’t-miss event.

“This is a very well-done and important event in the arts,” said Lou Mercatanti, publisher of The Journal. “It is exciting from beginning to end, and there truly is something for everyone, from aspiring talent, open-minded arts lovers, children and seniors. It well-organized and very welcoming, and we are very proud to share it with Monmouth County and beyond.”

Get set for an experience like no other. Over just five days, you can enjoy more than 240 films on all subjects, showing in eight locations all around Asbury Park, plus parties, seminars and lots more, with a convenient free shuttle bus to get you everywhere. It’s a fast-paced weekend of nonstop fun, including special cocktails all over town courtesy of featuring sponsor Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

To make the most of your experience, start by looking at the film synopses at or on the free downloadable app. With so much to see and do, it will help you plan your busy weekend.

Films on Saturday and Sunday are shown in two-hour screening blocks. Each block feature films in similar genres. Each screening block features a host who moderates a Q&A session with the filmmakers and actors at the conclusion of the block.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes (unless you want to get red carpet-ready for the Friday Night Cocktail Gala). Pick up a copy of the program book which is an essential tool to make your experience the best. Bring a tote bag, pens for choosing films, and your headshots and business cards.

Tickets to individual screenings and events are available for $15 online or $17 at the door. Alternatively, festival passes are available for only $50 online or $55 at the door and grant unlimited access to everything for all five days (except the Awards Banquet). Use discount code “Journal” (case sensitive) for a special discount. Day passes are also available for $30 for Saturday and $20 for Sunday.


Festival Highlights

  • Wednesday, March 25 at 7 pm – Calling all Mathew Modine fans! Join Modine in person for a special screening at Jersey Shore Arts Center of “Full Metal Jacket” with Q&A after the film.
  • Thursday, March 26 at 7 pm – Meet the Filmmaker Night at the Paramount Theater. It starts with a reception (light fare and cash bar) followed by a rapid-fire presentation of the trailers of some of the weekend’s great films. You’ll meet cool, creative teams and get some real help planning your weekend.

After the trailers, GSFF presents the Premiere of “QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT,” a documentary directed by New Jersey native Tara Wood, about the first 21 years of Quentin Tarantino’s career, including interviews with Tarantino and others like Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

  • Friday, March 29 from noon to 1:30 pm – Panel 1: Demystifying SAG-AFTRA
  • Friday, March 29 from 2 to 3 pm – Panel 2: Navigating the New Jersey Film & TV Tax Incentive
  • Friday, March 29 from 7 to 10:30 pm –Friday Night Opening Gala and first movie. Walk the red carpet at this Hollywood premier-style party held in Convention Hall. You’ll have photo opps like the stars. Rub elbows with the celebrities and industry executives, actors, agents, filmmakers and great film-loving folks, while you enjoy free food (cash bar) and networking. Immediately following the party, walk into the Paramount Theater for the opening night family-friendly film “Team Marco.” Marco, a technology-obsessed 11-year-old who barely leaves the house has his world turned upside down when his grandfather moves in and Marco is forced to go play outside. Grandpa introduces him to bocce and his crew of old Italian men who play daily, forcing Marco to round up a team of “real kids” to take on his grandfather and his pals.

Following the film, there is an after-party. Dress to the nines or come casual to the Friday Night Gala. Friday night’s events are included in the festival pass or you can purchase tickets separately for $30 online or $35 the door.

  • Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29 – The films and events start around 10 am each day and run until around 10 pm with a big after-party on Saturday night in the Asbury Hotel.
  • Saturday, March 28 from 10 to 11:30 am – Panel Discussion: Arianna Bocco, EVP Acquisitions IFC Films on Acquisitions
  • Saturday, 11:45 am to 12:45pm – Panel Discussion: Award-winning DGA director Perry Lang leads “Small screen, Big screen – Directing Choices.”
  • Sunday, March 31 from 10 am to noon – Live Screenplay Reading: A panel of real actors read the award-winning screenplay “LAST of the BURLY GIRLS” by John Pisano-Thomsen, including director’s notes. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the birth of a film.
  • Sunday, March 31 from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm – Panel Discussion” SAG-AFTRA Contracts 101 For Filmmakers


Robert Patrick

Matthew Modine

2020 Honorees

  • Honorary Chair: Jack Ford. Two-time Emmy Award winner and Peabody Award-winning journalist, college professor, award-winning documentary film producer and former trial attorney and author Jack Ford has been commanding the spotlight for a lifetime. Currently, Ford is a CBS News Correspondent for “60 Minutes Sports” and the co-host of “Metro Focus” on PBS. He has received the March of Dimes FDR Award and was voted People magazine’s Sexiest News Anchor.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Matthew Modine. From his iconic roles in “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Dark Knight Rises” to his TV roles on “Stranger Things” and “Weeds and Proof” or from his compelling performance in “Foster Boy” and “Miss Virginia,” screening at this year’s festival, Modine always delivers a strong, centered performance. Modine has been nominated for three Golden Globes and one Emmy Award.
  • Icon Award: Linda Hamilton. From the big screen, as Sarah Connor in “The Terminator,” to the small screen, as Catherine Chandler on TV’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Hamilton has inspired women with her strong femininity and personal performances. She has won an ACE award and has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, an Emmy Award and an MTV Movie Award.
  • Patriot Award: Robert Patrick. Robert Patrick is more than the legendary T-1000 in “The Terminator.” He is also devoted to veterans’ causes. Patrick’s films include “Die Hard 2,” “Wayne’s World,” “Last Action Hero,” “Cop Land,” “The Faculty,” “Walk the Line” and “Bridge to Terabithia.” His television appearances include “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” “The X-Files,” “Sons of Anarchy” and CBS’s “Scorpion.” Patrick has participated in four USO tours. As a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and Boozefighter, Patrick served for years as an Honorary Grand Marshall for the famed Love Ride which benefited veterans.

    Linda Hamilton

    Jack Ford

  • Home Grown Hero: Chef David Burke. As one of the nation’s most innovative and in-demand culinary experts, Burke has legions of fans around the world, yet he has remained true to his Jersey Shore roots through his 30-year career. Burke has appeared on TV’s “Top Chef Masters” and “Iron Chef.” He operates the DRIFTHOUSE by David Burke and Nauti Bar by David Burke in Sea Bright, Ventanas in Fort Lee, and David Burke Orange Lawn in South Orange. He a philanthropist and mentor who grew up in Hazlet and was a Sea Bright lifeguard as a teen.
  • Educator of the Year: Robin Kampf. She has inspired generations of filmmakers through her work at Brookdale Community College, Union County College, Monmouth University, Seton Hall University and Montclair State University and currently as the media video production specialist for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
  • Broader Vision Award: Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, established by Steven Van Zandt, and its TeachRock national K-12 curriculum includes interdisciplinary, arts-driven materials which are free to educators, all designed to keep students engaged and in school.
  • Rising Star: Ashley Platz. A true Jersey girl, Platz grew up eating pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches. She has appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “GLOW” on Netflix, and she’ll soon be appearing on “The Bold Type” on Freeform playing, what else, a fun-loving, confident, queer Jersey Girl.

    Ashley Platz

    David Burke

  • Renaissance Award: Perry Lang. Starting to work in film as an actor at 17, Lang has acted in more than 30 films, including Sam Fuller’s “The Big Red One,” Steven Spielberg’s “1941” and John Sayles’s “Sunshine State.” Lang’s television work as an actor includes “MASH,” the title character in the Emmy-winning television special “Hewitt’s Just Different” and “A Rumor Of War.”
  • Independent Spirit Award: Tara Wood. Wood is a director, producer, international film sales agent and New Jersey native. As the director and lead producer of the “21 YEARS SERIES,” she is co-director of the award-winning, New York Times critic’s pick “21 YEARS: RICHARD LINKLATER,” and director of “QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT” which the festival is delighted to present.
  • MVP: Nick Falcone. Falcone was a member of the GSFF Board of Directors and Programming Committee for 10 years, serving as the chairman of both for the last seven years. His long association with the arts has included working for the legendary Broadway director/producer Harold Prince, Broadway and with the film production company, The Producer Circle Co. He has sung at Carnegie Hall, with the New Jersey State Opera, MidAtlantic Opera and Metro Lyric Opera of New Jersey.
  • Exceptional Women in Film: Ariana Bocco. Bocco has spent more than a decade overseeing acquisitions and productions for IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight, three multi-platform film distribution labels owned and operated by AMC Networks, Inc. She has spearheaded all acquisitions at the company, acquiring the rights to some of the most critically acclaimed independent films from around the world.
  • Beacon Award: Gail Barringer. Barringer has produced more than 175 episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit” and seasons 2 through 4 of “Person of Interest” before jumping into the Marvel world with “The Punisher” and “Luke Cage.” Barringer then went on to produce Netflix’s revival of “Tales of the City,” Hulu’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” and season 1 of “Emergence” for ABC.

Executive Director, Lauren Concar Sheehy invites all to attend. “There really are opportunities for all, from those serious about making important career connections to those who just want to spend a weekend immersed in some really quality films and events. You will love it!”

Founder Diane Raver added, “It only happens once a year, and it goes by in a flash. Don’t miss this entertaining and important event that celebrates the creative spirit.”

Ariana Bocco

Tara Wood

Perry Lang

Nick Falcone

Robin Kampf

Gail Barringer