Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Arts: Garden State Film Festival's 10th Year

Asbury Park Press presents
the 10th Annual Garden State Film Festival
Thursday, March 22nd - Sunday, March 25th
Asbury Park, NJ

The GSFF is the fastest growing film festival on the East Coast.  The festival attracts an impressive collection of shorts and feature length films from all over the world, representing a variety of genres.  Several are making their US Premieres at the GSFF. Because Asbury Park is famous for its historic music scene, there are also a number of films focusing on music of all genres - anything from rock to jazz. The majority of the films will be screened on Saturday and Sunday. I've checked out the complete film guide and am very impressed with the diversity and caliber of the line-up (and I've been to the Sundance Film Festival & Tribeca Film Festival so I know great festivals when I see them!).


SATURDAY: DBT (10:30am P3) is a silent short film about today's means of communication in which texting is the only dialogue used in the film; Cultures of Resistance (Noon S31) is an inspiring documentary celebrating groups in Burma, Brazil, Palestine, Lebanon, and several other countries who are standing up to violence and exploitation through many unique forms of artistic expression and creative activism; Admissions (2pm S32) is a short film starring Academy Award Nominee James Cromwell that "[features] an Israeli couple and a Palestinian...set in the Admissions Room for the afterlife."  The film notes explain, "Its purpose is to start a conversation that heals"; Roadmap to Apartheid (2pm S32) is a thought-provoking documentary narrated by Alice Walker, author of The Color PurpleZoltan: The Hungarian Gangster of Love (3:30pm P6) is an absurdist black & white Hungarian comedy short about the Don Juan of a remote Hungarian village; A Dangerous Place (6pm P7) is an action/thriller about an executive at an NJ pharmaceutical plant who begins to suspect that her fellow employees are poisoning people in public because their company makes the antidote; Doorman (6pm B16) is a short film about a Manhattan doorman who is isolated from the world and starts receiving mysterious packages filled with just packing peanuts; KJB - The Book That Changed the World (6pm S34) is a historic documentary starring famed actor John Rhys-Davies that follows the court of King James, the Gunpowder Plot, and all of the crooked and masterly characters that were involved in the events surrounding the 1611 authorized version of The Bible; Theo Fleury: Playing with Fire (6pm B16) is a Canadian documentary in its US Premiere based on the NHL star's tell-all biography of his path to the hall of fame that was ended by his addictions to booze, drugs, and gambling and how he has faces his demons; Busco Empleo/Looking for a Job (8pm O47) is a short Mexican film that will be making its US Premiere and the plot sounds very relevant to our times and uplifting; Danach/Afterwards (8:30pm) is a German drama about an East German father and daughter reunited whose troubled lives have lots of mysteries that are uncovered during their journey to retrieve the girl's grandfather's safety deposit box key; Below Zero (9pm C28) is a Canadian thriller about a screenwriter with writer's block who locks himself in a meat cooler "in order to meet a looming deadline".  This blurs his sense of reality and fiction; A Boy's Life (9pm C28 - same block as Below Zero) is a short film about a boy whose father is away working for the military.  During this time he tries to convince his coping mother that the monsters under his bed are real.

FRIDAY & SUNDAY: Shuffle (Friday, 8:30pm P2) is a fantasy/drama/romance about a man who begins to experience his life out of order - waking up at different ages, days, and years in his life.  The film stars TJ Thyne of TV's hit Bones and the make-up is done by Academy Award Winner Barney BurmanHopelessly in June (Sun, 2:45pm B19) is a feature about a woman from a Southern Baptist family who moves to LA to become a financial analyst.  While there, she falls in love with a successful businessman from an extremely liberal Hollywood family.  The cast includes actors from Spiderman 3UpDeadwoodThe Dark Knight, and There's Something About MaryAdults Only (Sunday, 3pm P11) is a comedy about a forgotten Olympic gold medal gymnast who takes up a job at his brother-in-law's adult video store in order to make ends meet, while concealing his true identity.

TICKETS: A Single Screening Pass ($10) allows you to watch 2 hours worth of films in a single screening block.  A block often consists of a  short film (under 60min), a feature film, and a Q&A session with the filmmakers. Your other ticket options are: Opening Night Cocktail Party ($25), Professional Panel Discussions ($10), Black Tie Awards Dinner ($125), and the Weekend Pass ($45-50, includes everything except the Awards Dinner). The Cocktail Party will be at the Paramount Theatre and the Awards Dinner will be at The Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant, NJ.

GETTING THERE: Read the Festival's suggestions HERE. You can take NJ Transit from NY Penn Station to Asbury Park. The ride will be a little under 2 hours (you have to switch in Long Branch) and will only cost you $15 each way for a regular ticket or $6.75 if you are a child/senior/disabled.  Show your NJ Transit ticket and get a FREE tote bag with the purchase of a Screening Pass! Theaters are a short taxi ride from the Asbury Park NJ Transit Station. Driving is a bit shorter and cheaper, it takes 1.5 hours and there is $10 all-weekend street parking pass you can get for the festival.  If the day seems too long, make a weekend of it! Asbury Park is just a few short miles from a couple Jersey shore beaches. For a less MTV-style break, I'd recommend popping down to Point Pleasant Beach and visiting Jenkinson's Boardwalk, Surf Taco, and Hoffman's Ice Cream Parlor.  I've done a day trip from Manhattan to Point Pleasant before, it's not a bad drive and just about 20 minutes from Asbury Park. It's a very clean beach that attracts lots of families and a pretty clean-cut crowd. Make sure you have some cash - you'll have to pay small fees for beach parking (around $10) and entry (around $8). If you are an MTV fan, drive a few miles farther south to Seaside Heights to check out your favorite landmarks from the show.

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