New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- After 11 years as a signature annual attraction in and around Asbury Park, the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) is moving to Atlantic City. The festival is held over a long weekend in early spring and screens hundreds of shorts, features, documentaries, music videos and trailers from around the world, with a special emphasis on New Jersey filmmakers. The event is highlighted with celebrities, workshops, casting calls, seminars, parties, awards and outreach to special populations like members of the military and veterans, the elderly, people with special needs and students K-12. 

Lingering disputes between the City of Asbury Park and developer Madison Marquette raised questions about the future use of the festival's main venues, the Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall Atrium. GSFF cannot be presented in Asbury Park without those spaces dedicated to the four-day event. "Timing is everything," said Ms. Raver. "The festival has had a wonderful home in Asbury Park for more than a decade but Atlantic City can provide us the opportunity to present and compete at a whole other level. With almost limitless venues for screening, events, and hospitality plus a local airport, the possibilities are endless." The festival draws an estimated 30,000 people annually to the off-season event which has been a boon to local business. GSFF received the 2012 Monmouth-Ocean Development Council (MODC) Tourism Achievement Award in recognition for its significant contribution to improving the economy of the bi-county area through tourism. According to Asbury Park's Department of Commerce, the event generates more than $825,000 into the city each year.

"This is a terrific example of a great public/private partnership. The festival is a great event which will continue to grow year after year; Atlantic City is an amazing venue that is reenergized and revitalized and the combination of the two will make for phenomenal synergy," said John Palmieri, executive director, CRDA. "We are thrilled to partner with the Garden State Film Festival and to add this event to our growing number of attractions and reasons to DO AC!"

The partnership with CRDA includes support that will afford the festival time and fiscal stability to replace sponsors attached to the Asbury Park location, build new relationships, and increase attendance numbers by marketing to audiences from Philadelphia in the west to Washington, D.C. in the south, and continue to serve their audiences from Northern New Jersey and New York City. "Asbury Park is a wonderful, nostalgic place to thousands upon thousands of film aficionados who grew up on the Jersey Shore but Atlantic City is an international destination that can provide all the amenities and infrastructure we need to grow the festival," added Ms. Raver.

The festival has attracted a long roster of artists from famed actors - including its co-founder the late Robert Pastorelli, - as well asGlen Close, Celeste Holm, Laine Kazan, Ed Asner, Phillip Bosco, James Gandolfini and Diane Ladd, to famed musicians including Bruce Springsteen, and many up and comers who made their debut as filmmakers and performers at the GSFF. The four-day festival includes an array of events in addition to the screenings, and a robust arts education component that will be replicated in the Atlantic City area public school districts. "Currently, we mainly serve as a presenter to students but have long relished the idea of providing related curricula and even hands-on film making training," notes Ms. Raver. 

Since the 2011 Tourism District Act legislation was enacted, the CRDA and its non-profit marketing partner, The Atlantic City Alliance, the nonprofit marketing arm of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, has had great success implementing the strengths and appeal of arts and culture to market and attract more visitors to Atlantic City. Attracting the GSFF is a cornerstone of this effort. The festival's 12th anniversary in its new home will be held April 3-6, 2014.