A Time Capsule Review: GARDEN STATE FILM FESTIVAL March 22nd to March 25th 2018 Asbury Park USA by Calvin Schwartz 3-28-18
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The purpose of this capsule review is to light fires for planning next year to attend and perhaps some instillation of guilt, regrets, why you were not there this year. A wondrous event; New Jersey’s own film festival by the ocean, replete with pomp, excitement, energy, film makers, actors, actresses, industry insiders, deal makers.
Represented; the independent film industry. I love the word independent. It makes me think of 1776; spirit, original colonies, strong belief systems, New Jersey, expressing, declaring, creating, proudly showing, winning, competing, producing, directing and the togetherness, cohesiveness, knowledge of participants. Metaphors, verbs, visualizations; whatever, the Garden State Film Festival delivered a wonderful weekend.
Friday Night Gala Cocktail Party and First Screening brought hundreds to Convention Hall. My press credentials issued for my work with NJ Discover and Artist Nation TV headed by Noelle Ciumei, doing feature interviews capturing excitement and energy. To me, this party was like a boardwalk amusement park, some fantasy rides, adventure, future, past, present; and the props like people, electricity, business cards, appointments, promises, future think, projects, exigencies and realities. A great accessible party for pictures, selfies and red carpets.
Food, plentiful, imaginative and fun. I’m not a foodie person, but the pretzel, with perhaps the best brown spicy mustard ever, had me perseverating for days.
Accessibility evident. I stopped Xander Berkeley, who was honored with Lifetime Achievement, eating with chopsticks, and moments later, we were sitting, talking, about his prolific career, but with such ease, as if we’ve been friends for decades. He loves the notoriety aspect, lack there-of, so he can sit at a sidewalk café and draw/sketch people walking by. He called it flying under the radar. He talked about living in the now, his spiritual side. There is a power to living in the now, an inner peace. How delightful he was. Of course, it was time to get back to photo-ops and selfies.
Ed Asner, on the Honorary Board, Armand Assante, MVP, honored for his continuing support of the Festival, Christopher Lloyd, a Festival honoree with the Beacon Award, were all mixing in. Such graciousness, a particulate of the energy of this Festival. Armand Assante, Christopher Lloyd and Xander Berkeley all premiered their films. Check out www.gsff.org.
On a lighter note, three women excitedly stopped me, “Wait, you’re an actor from Seinfeld. The raisin episode! Can we take a picture with you?” It took me a minute of convincing that it’s not me. But they still took a picture with me.
A young woman introduced herself. My projection of being a journalist; the blazer, Rutgers hat. Stephanie Angel, from Angelight Films, recipient of the 2018 Garden State Film Festival’s Broader Vision Award for Filmmaking Dedicated to Greater Good told me about her work, which gives children with brain and spinal chord tumors a chance to express themselves on short films. This blew me away, such that I’ll do a special article on NJ Discover. People need to know. Part of the reason to believe in the Festival; to illuminate, share and learn.
Next up, the film premiere of Armand Assante’s riveting, powerful film, ‘The Wanderers-The Quest of the Demon Hunter’ in the Paramount Theater. Of course, I loved it, engrossed, carpeted to on site locations in Romania, loved the Q and A, honest, engrossing, revealing. Would love a sequel; I told that to Armand directly.
Saturday, with my Rutgers mentee student Marisa, and co-host of NJ Discover LIVE TV Show, Tara-Jean McDonald Vitale, we attended the showing of nine short film entries, animation, comedic, heavy, imaginative, sad, uplifting, but part of this brave new world of accomplished independent talent. Being a former salesman, the film ‘Death of an Umbrella Salesman,’ resonated with me as it conjured up Arthur Miller and Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp.
Next the anticipated Panel discussion, Actors on Acting with Monica Henreid, moderating. Her father, one of my all-time favorite actors played Victor Lazlo from ‘Casablanca.’ Present were Armand Assante, Xander Berkeley, Garry Pastore, Chance Kelly and Oana Marcu, who played the ‘heavy’ in ‘The Wanders-The Quest of the Demon Hunter.’ A great hour. I loved Monica’s question, “Who Inspired You?” For the Q and A., I needed to know about their handling of rejection.
Later that night, Christopher Lloyd’s heavy, true story film, premiere, ‘Making A Killing,’ in the enchanting venue of Jersey Shore Arts Center, formerly Neptune High School, a long time ago, but renovated by the vision of Herb Herbst (an NJ Discover feature story)
Yes, this capsule, a bit long, but needed for reality and enticement, memorization to get you down here next year. It’s “good stuff” being in Asbury Park, smelling ocean air, popcorn, seeing movies, dreams realized, partaking of all that Asbury offers, food, music, boardwalk, escapism. Actually, a capsule is something you take in the morning or at night, then call me next year, in the morning. We’ll go to the Festival together.