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Garden State Film Festival 2021

The beginning of spring can mean only one thing to cinephiles - the arrival of The Garden State Film Festival. For fans of big and small screens eagerly awaiting the screening of independent films, the wait is over. Events begin on March 23rd and run through the 28th, with panel discussions and parties in addition to films. We predict that no one will be disappointed.

The festival, which typically draws more than 25,000 attendees to the Shore, screening local, national, and international movies will be a hybrid of selected live events and virtual screenings that include an incredible variety of feature and short-length dramas, thrillers, comedies, documentaries, student films, videos and web series, music, and more. Participants can virtually connect with the filmmaker interviews, Q&A sessions and even the awards presentation. One upside to this year’s digital experience: movie lovers around the globe can view the films.

This year’s GSFF Honorary Chair is NJ native Arianna Brocco. Presently a resident of Bradley Beach, Arianna is the President of IFC Films. Of this privilege Arianna says “The Garden State Film Festival did an incredibly impressive job of navigating through the 2020 Covid crisis shut down. They managed to be the first film festival in the country to continue showing films on their own digital platform. Again this year, they're providing amazing programming while continuing to show in-person films digitally. Their dedication to the arts in this area could not be more important at this very moment."

Special Awards:

Independent Spirit Award - Daniel Baldwin

Mr. Baldwin’s career includes feature films, independent films and television. Daniel Baldwin won the Burbank International Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his role in ‘The Wisdom to Know the Difference’ in 2014. The film, which he also directed, won the San Antonio Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature Film. In 2014, he won Best Supporting Actor at the Madrid International Film Festival for his movie ‘Helen Alone’.

MVP - Ming Chen

During his free time, Chen serves on the board for the non-profit organization Root to Rise. He also co-owns a podcast studio with Mike Zapcic called “A Shared Universe” and is a partner in a coffee, gaming and comics café called “Coral Sword” in Houston, Texas with major league ballplayer Hunter Pence.

SPIRIT OF NEW JERSEY - Declan O'Scanlon Jr.

Declan O’Scanlon Jr. is a NJ State Senator from Legislative District 13. He was sworn in for his first term in the New Jersey Senate in 2018. Born in Marlboro, he has been a life-long resident of Little Silver where he previously served as councilman from 1994 to 2007. He is married to actress producer and talent Heather O’Scanlon.

RISING STAR WINNER - Christian Barber

Christian Barber began performing theatre in New York City in 2006, his work often connecting his audiences to characters they wouldn’t normally identify with. He has worked on dozens of television and film projects from Independent Films to Network Television, to Netflix and more. Christian currently lives in Los Angeles.

Educator of the Year - Chris Dudick

Chris is an Emmy award-winning producer, educator and entrepreneur. He has worked with hundreds of NYC and NJ schools and thousands of students focusing on STEAM based enrichment programs such as Animation, Video Game Design, 3D Printing and Video Production. Chris won an Emmy in 2012 for producing a series of cartoons with socially impactful messages created by kids for kids.

Short Screenplay Winner - Drew Henriksen

GSFF is happy to honor Drew Henriksen as the 2021 GSFF Screenplay Competition winner for “Afternoon” Henriksen is an accomplished writer of novels and award-winning short films. He has supplemented his income by supervising a lab, teaching high school, as well as showing off his blackbelt in martial arts as a stunt work and fight coordinator in several films.

Feature Screenplay Winner - Rob Thorp

Rob Thorp studied film and writing in NYC and attended Rutgers University where he received his degrees in English and Education. His current film projects include, The Boy Roach, which recently won both the Paris Play International Film Festival for best feature script & Garden State Film Festival, and Ghostly George, a feature script in development. A full-time writer and teacher, Rob resides on the Jersey shore.


Hosting IN-PERSON screenings and activities:

Cranford Theater 25 North Avenue West Cranford, NJ 07016

Asbury Lanes 209 4th Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Asbury Hall at The Asbury Hotel

210 Fifth Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Berkeley Hotel - KINGSLEY ROOM 1401 Ocean Ave

Asbury Park, NJ 07712



IN PERSON ONLY | Tuesday, March 23, 2021 4:15pm-6:30pm | Click block below | Join us for a LIVE presentation consisting of a selection of age appropriate KIDZ FILMZ, with an emphasis on visual literacy. Every ticket holder is entitled to a GSFF Badge!


IN PERSON ONLY | Tuesday, March 23, 2021 7:00pm-9:00pm | Click block below | Join us for a LIVE screening of "When In Doubt, Do Something: The Harry Chapin Story".

For a complete list of screenings and events, tickets and any additional information go to:


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