Thousands of people attended the Garden State Film Festival's much-anticipated homecoming in Asbury Park March 22-25, 2018. The spectacular four-day weekend event welcomed over 26,000 celebrities, honorees, film industry execs and movie fans to multiple iconic venues throughout Asbury Park. The Festival included networking opportunities, industry workshops, informative panel discussions, open talent casting call, live screenplay reading, star-studded red carpet gala and entertaining parties - all in addition to the screenings of 246 films from 22 countries around the world. The weekend culminated with the 2018 Garden State Film Festival Awards Gala Dinner event on Sunday evening, where this year's honorees were recognized and Festival winners were announced.  

Several of the more notable winners at this year's Garden State Film Festival were:    

Garden State Screenplay Competition: Colorblind (The Legacy of Alvin Bell) written by Pamela Peak   
Narrative Feature: Juveniles, produced by James Burke and Scott Disharoon, and directed by Nico Sabenorio.
Narrative Feature: Making A Killing, produced by Bruce Robinson, directed by Devin Hume.

International Narrative Feature: Handsome Devil (Ireland), produced by Rebecca O'Flanagan and Robert Walpole, directed by John Butler

Narrative Short: Aeris, produced by Paul Castro, Jr. and Aly Miller, directed by Paul Castro

International Narrative Short: The Puppeteer (Spain),produced and directed by Carlos Lascano
International Comedy Short: Fingerman (Ukraine), produced and directed by Ivan Shokha
International Comedy Short: 2 By 2 (United Kingdom), produced & directed by Mark Playne
Short Documentary: The Sara Spencer Washington Story, directed by Royston Scott

International Feature Documentary: Melody Makers (Canada/UK), produced by Mark Sanders and Leslie Ann Coles, directed by Leslie Ann Coles

Horror Feature: The Wanderers: The Quest of the Demon Hunters (Romania), produced by Andrei Boncea, Catalin Catoiu and Dragos Buliga, directed by Dragos Buliga
Musical Feature Film: Still Waiting In The Wings, produced by Jeffrey Johns and directed by Allan Brocka
Alternative Feature: The Rainbow Experiment, produced by Allison Vanore, directed by Christina Kallas
Animated Short: E-Delivery, directed Young Gul Cho

International Animated Short: Au Revior Balthazar (Switzerland), produced by Claudia Frei and Stella Händler, directed by Rafael Sommerhalder

Family Feature: Bully, produced and directed bySantino Campanelli

Music Video: Mission to Mars, directed by George Pasles

M. Carroll Raver Award for Cinematography: The Song of Sway Lake by Eric Lin
Emanuel "Manny" Berlingo Award for Best Feature Length Documentary: Living in Future's Past, produced byJeff Bridges, Susan Kucera and Jim Swift, directed by Susan Kucera

The Bud Abbott Award for Feature Length Comedy: Love Eclectic, produced and directed by Bill Brown   


The Lou Costello Award for Comedy Short: Obits, produced byNeil Fennell and Guy Olivieri, directed by Guy Olivieri

Promo: What's Out There? produced byYijian Lou, directed by Kirill Yusim
Narrative Short - College (Undergraduate Student): Osiris (Syracuse University),
produced and directed by Kathryn Ferentchak
Narrative Short - College (Graduate Student): The Hobbyist (School of Visual Arts, NY), produced by David E. Munz Maire, directed by George Vatistas
Animated Short - College: Out of the Box (Rochester Institute of Technology), directed byMarcel Saleta
International Animated Short - College: In the Crosshairs (Soore University, Iran), produced byHamidreza Jave and directed by Marzieh Kheirkhah
International Narrative Short - College: Children of Spring (Germany), produced and directed by Zara Demet Altan
International Narrative Short - College: Fantastic Four (Poland), produced by Karol Vo, directed by Juan Alejandro Bermúdez
Narrative Short - High School: About Time (Viewpoint School, CA), produced by Anthony Aguirre, directed byBranton Choi
International Narrative Short - High School: The Candy Girl (Canada), written and produced by Lettie Costea, directed by Joshua Costea    
Pick of the Flicks: Detention (Ballinger)
The Garden State Film Festival would like to recognize films shot in the State of New Jersey with the following winners in the "Home Grown Award" categories:
Home Grown Documentary Short: Destination Past: Rumson Hill, produced and directed by Chris Brenner
Home Grown PSA: Azaliah & AJ at Special Strides, directed by Jenna Bush

Home Grown Student Short - College: Unheard (Fairleigh Dickinson University), produced by Lauren Ide, directed by Salma Hbaich 

Home Grown Documentary Short - College: Hope Restored (Rowan University), produced by Diana Nicolae, Bryan Dickerson and Erin Cahill, directed by Argiea Spencer 

Home Grown Student Documentary Short - High School: The Pilgrim Pipeline (Chatham High School), directed byZoe DeWitt    

Home Grown Student Short - High SchoolConquer (Communications High School),

   directed by Abigail Karl
Home Grown Student Short - High School: Parallel Dreams (Red Bank Regional High School), written and directed by John Tuohy

Home Grown Student PSA - High School: The Community Food Bank (Atlantic Institute     of Technology), directed by Amanda Paule

Homegrown Feature: The Song of Sway Lake, by Eric Lin  
Homegrown Short: Swiped Right, Produced by Lydia Fiore and Dana Marisa   Schoenfeld, directed by Dana Marisa Schoenfeld
Homegrown Comedy Short: Therapy, Bro, produced by Wally Marzano-Lesnevich, Francesco Nuzzi and John Hedlund, directed by John Hedlund
Homegrown Music Video: Got This Far, produced by Madison Caccioppoli and Diane Raver, directed by Diane Raver
Homegrown Documentary Feature: The Oyster Farmers, produced by Angela Andersen C., directed by Corinne Gray Ruff

Garden State Film Festival Movie Music Competition Winners:

Best Song From a Short Film: The Long Run, performed by Glenn Roth, Gary Blu, Grant Morrison and Rachel Blumberg, composed by Rachel Blumberg, Barbara Bock and Gary Blu
Best Theme From A Drama: Stars in My Eyes (Theme from Drawing Home), performed by Judy Collins, written by Jody Gray, Don Rollins and Steve Walsh
Best Orchestral Score: Dignity, performed by: Hollywood Studio Symphony, conducted by Tim Williams, concertmaster Mark Robertson, composed by Kim Planert
Best Instrumental Score from a Silent Film: Center Ring Waltz, performed by Bryson Kemp, composed by Bryson Kemp 
Best Contemporary Pop Song: Dancing Girl, performed by: The Wiggies, composed and produced by Sandy Linzer and Edward B. Kessel
Best Internationally Inspired Song from a Home Grown Artist: Some Fish Can Fly, performed by Sound Imagination Players, composed and produced by Edward B. Kessel and Marc Hoffman    
Best Home Grown Hip Hop Song: Got This Far, performed by Madison Caccioppoli, composed by Madison Caccioppoli
Best Indie Rock Song: Mission To Mars, performed by Overlord (George Andrew Pasles, Sarah Brockett, Matt Houser, and TrisMcCall, composed by George Andrew Pasles
Best Documentary Theme from a Home Grown Short: Azaliah's Theme, performed by David Citron, composed by David Citron                                                                                        
A complete listing of all winners can be found at:
Honorees recognized at the 2018 Garden State Film Festival were:
  • Brian Cheripka - 2018 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, and sales, marketing and horizontal site construction.
  • Christopher Lloyd - Beacon Award: Christopher Lloyd has amassed over 90 film and television credits, and is best known worldwide for his portrayal of the eccentric, yet much-loved Professor Emmett Brown in the "Back to the Future"trilogy. Mr. Lloyd began his film career in 1975 in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."  This was soon followed by a two-year run as Jim Ignatowski on the classic television series "Taxi," for which he won two of his three Emmy Awards.

  • Armand Assante - 2018 MVP:  Born in 1949 in New York City, Mr. Assante received his dramatic training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 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 in the Festival's opening film this year, "The Wanderers- The Quest of the Demon Hunter."

  • Christopher Corey - 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.

  • Ellie Lee - Rising Star Award for Acting: 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 appeared 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 screened at the Festival this year.

  • Angelight Films - Broader Vision Award: Each year, GSFF proudly recognizes a deserving organization for film making dedicated to the greater good. 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, "The Power of Positivity."    

More information about this year's honorees can be found on the Garden State Film Festival's website:

Other filmmakers and actors who attended the 2018 Garden State Film Festival included: Monika Henreid, Ed Asner, Aida Turturro, Jude Moran, Heather Brittain O'Scanlon, Garry Pastore, Chance Kelly, Oana Marcu and Miss New Jersey.

Lauren Concar, Garden State Film Festival Executive Director, describes this year's Festival as being "absolutely impressive" with "filmmakers and fans from around the world networking and enjoying themselves." Concar says, "This year, we celebrated the Festival's 'Sweet 16' anniversary, and it truly was a great celebration! We screened 246 outstanding films from 22 countries around the world. Plus attendees took advantage of the networking opportunities throughout the weekend. 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."   

Garden State Film Festival Founder Diane Raver says, "We are so impressed by the thousands of entries we receive for the Festival each year, and this year was no exception! Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating our 'Sweet 16!" We hope to see you next year for our 17th annual Festival.

The official call for entries for the 2019 Garden State Film Festival will start on June 1st this year. 

About the Garden State Film Festival
The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) 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. It 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 moved back to Asbury Park. The GSFF is a 501-c-3 non- profit organization. 

For more information, please visit the Garden State Film Festival website at or call 877-908-7050.