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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jan 31, 2018

Garden State Film Festival Returns to Asbury Park 

By Lori Draz

Friday Night Cocktail Gala

Fans of independent film are delighted that the globally recognized Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) will be returning to its original home in Asbury Park this March 22 to 25. The return move marks the festival’s “Sweet 16” anniversary and follows a very successful four-year run in Atlantic City. Equally excited is the Journal magazine who will be helping to bring this well-regarded festival to fans from around the world. Owner/publisher Lou Mercatanti said, “Our readers have a deep love and connection to the arts. We are proud to be part of this exciting event and look forward to a remarkable weekend of films, seminars, parties, and networking.”

GSFF Board Chairman, Nicholas J. Falcone said, “We are coming back due largely to the popular and steady demand of our legions of fans. While many factors played a role in our decision to return to our original home, we had to listen to them. This move is in no way is a statement about our four-years in Atlantic City where we were given an incredible reception and cooperation. We listened to our fans and are happy to be back in Monmouth County.”

The festival has a well-developed legacy in Asbury Park, a town which has its own rich history as an entertainment hub. Event goers will be treated to a fast-paced weekend with numerous screening locations, parties, an open talent casting call, and celebrities and industry leaders.

As of this writing the celebrities scheduled to attend include Armand Assante who will debut his new film at the Friday night opening, which follows the lavish Friday Night Cocktail Gala. Also scheduled to attend is Xander Berkeley from the Walking Dead, star of soaps, movies, stage, and former Monmouth County resident Ronnie Marmo, and the legendary Ed Asner, who will be returning for his fifth visit to the festival; and there are more surprises to come.

Executive Director Lauren Concar says, “Our return to Asbury Park has re-ignited so much excitement. We are happy to welcome volunteers and, of course, film fans. Block out the weekend, because there is something for everyone.

Founder Diane Raver said, “We cannot say enough about how happy we are to be returning to Asbury Park or how wonderful the Asbury mayor and city council, iStar, and the venues have been in welcoming us home. The GSFF team is looking forward to returning to our roots and to re-connecting with so many old friends. The films are great and there is a selection for all tastes, from films about veterans, to thrillers, shorts, animated offerings, childrens’ films, documentaries, and so much more. Come one, come all, it only happens once a year and we don’t want you to miss it.”

Tickets are $15 in advance for a two-hour screening block, and $50 for an all-access weekend pass that gets you into everything including the Friday Night Gala cocktail party. The Journal will be offering readers a discount code for tickets for the weekend pass. Details to follow on the discount code as well as the screening schedules and locations, so be sure to visit often as the news changes daily.

The Garden State Film Festival was envisioned by 25-year film industry veteran Diane Raver and the late Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli in 2002 and launched the following year. Since 2003, thousands of films have made their public premiers, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have attended; and the total infusion of cash to local businesses since inception exceeds $5 million. The festival was held in Asbury Park, in and around the   Convention Center complex. From 2014 to 2017, it was held in Atlantic City. Beginning in 2018, it will move back to Asbury Park. The GSFF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

For more information about the Garden State Film Festival, contact:

For social media updates on the GSFF, please visit the below: