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May 12, 2022

The Garden State Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

Executive Director Lauren Concar Sheehy celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Garden State Film Festival.

March 23 through April 3 was an inspiring, exciting and entertaining time as thousands once again came together to enjoy one of New Jersey’s most loved events, the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF), which celebrated a remarkable 20-year anniversary in Asbury Park and Cranford. This year, the action-packed live event was followed by a week-long virtual screening option for those who could not attend in person. 

Student filmmakers take part in the 20th annual Garden State Film Festival. Photo by Ed Shinn

The spectacular in-person event welcomed more than 18,000 attendees, celebrities, honorees, film industry executives and movie fans to multiple iconic venues. The festival included networking opportunities, industry workshops, informative panel discussions, a winning screenplay reading with an in-depth celebrity talk, a star-studded red-carpet gala and entertaining parties – all in addition to the screenings of 197 films from 17 countries around the world. The weekend culminated with the 2022 Garden State Film Festival Awards Gala Dinner event on Sunday evening, during which this year’s honorees were recognized and festival winners were announced.

The in-person event welcomed more than 18,000 attendees, celebrities, honorees, film industry executives and movie fans to multiple venues. Photo by Erin Barbato

Lauren Concar Sheehy, Garden State Film Festival executive director, described this year’s festival as “absolutely impressive” with “filmmakers and fans from around the world networking and enjoying themselves.” Concar said, “Overall, everyone really seemed to enjoy the films and the workshops and parties. It was a lot of fun! Thank you and congratulations to all the participants, and especially to this year’s honorees and winners.”

The GSFF screened close to 200 films, including feature and short length dramas, thrillers, comedies, documentaries, student films, foreign films, music videos videos and web series. Photo by Tom Zapcic

In addition to screening close to 200 films, including feature and short length dramas, thrillers, comedies, documentaries, student films, foreign films, videos and web series, music and more, the festival also welcomed industry leaders, local dignitaries, educators and students.  

Old Bridge High School television production teacher Susan Walsh volunteers at the festival. Photo by Tom Zapcic

GSFF founder Diane Raver reflected on the 20-year landmark. “This event continues to exceed my wildest dreams,” she said. “I cannot begin to thank our many benefactors, our volunteers, talented film and industry folks, and of course our fans. We have launched so many careers, brought so much hope and inspiration and done so much important work in these last 20 years, and I can only imagine where the next decades will bring us all.” 

From left: Jerry Sroka, Diane Raver, Siobahn Fallon Hogan and Mariette Hartley. Photo by Tom Zapcic

If you would like to see highlights of the events, learn more about the films and filmmakers and get involved in the numerous ongoing outreach screenings and events, visit gsff.org. 

The official call for entries for the 2023 Garden State Film Festival opened on May 1, with the entry deadline set for Tuesday, Nov. 1. For more information, call 877-908-7050.