NOTE: By order of the State of New Jersey, all bars, nightclubs, theatres and performing arts centers are closed until further notice. Restaurants remain open for take-out and delivery on a limited schedule, while local cinemas and playhouses have cancelled all shows. Contact individual venues for information on regarding prior ticket sales and reschedulings of announced events…and keep the safety of our community in mind!
Published in The Link News (Long Branch, NJ), March 26, 2020
To be clear about it, the various film-actor celebs that we were anticipating seeing — including Full Metal Jacket star Matthew Modine, or Terminator tandem Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick — will not be making any of those promised personal appearances at area restaurants, theatres or screening spaces.
Instead, these distinguished guests and many more will be coming to your living room, your home office, your kitchen, your bedroom, your bathroom — wherever you choose to take in a movie, TV series or video on your personal screening space these days.
With its 18th annual edition — the third since returning to the Monmouth County milieu of its birth — set to unspool over the course of this weekend, the Garden State Film Festival had mapped out a sprawling slate of screening-event blocks, panels, seminars and ceremonies; a rigorously organized schedule set to commandeer auditoriums, businesses, and municipal meeting places all over Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.
Our unprecedented public health emergency, and its mandated closings of nearly every space in which audiences congregate, had another something to say about those best-laid plans of mice and men. And it appeared as though the GSFF would be just one more small ripple in a wave of postponements and cancellations that included big-time concert events, Broadway shows, major pro and college sports contests, the Cannes Film Festival, and a little thing called the Olympics.
Rather than remaining lost in the tsunami that’s crashed against the economic shore, however, the festival diverted its current to a place Down by the Old Live Stream — with the result that beginning today, March 26, and continuing through this coming Sunday, March 29, the event with the Jersey Tomatoes in its logo soldiers on in “hothouse tomatoes” style; presenting all of its previously announced films as scheduled, and as streaming programs available exclusively to GSFF “attendees.”
Speaking on the eve of the first live-stream happening, festival founder Diane Raver observed that “as recently as ten days ago, we were still a physical event…but when we realized what had to be done, we turned this thing around in record time.”
“That’s all Lauren, God bless her,” said Raver in reference to GSFF exec director Lauren Concar Sheehy, “along with Sage Del Valle, our director of operations and technical wizard…thanks to them, we were able to design a solution, and to build something ourselves.”
As the festival organizers point out, this remains a “ticketed event” for which anyone who purchases an admission at the official website gsff.org is able to access their choice of featured programming blocks from private servers (“not YouTube or Vimeo, and not prone to pirating”). According to a press announcement, previously purchased tickets will be honored for the streamed programming, as well as at the 2021 Garden State Film Festival — and while panels, workshops and other in-person offerings have necessarily been cancelled, the live-stream format has the advantage of allowing film fans to “be in two places at the same time,” with none of the scheduled events subject to turning away attendees from a sold-out screening space.
As Sheehy put it in a statement, the festival “promises to be a celebration of independent film that you can’t see anywhre else, all from the comfort of your home.” Festival chairman Eric Ascalon added that “we intend to ‘virtually’ reach not only our traditional attendees, but also an expanded homebound audience yearning to interface with the arts.”
The 18th annual event kicks off tonight at 7 pm with a special Meet the Filmmaker video that offers previews of featured films — and continues at 8 pm with one of the most anticipated offerings on this year’s schedule, the feature-length documentary QT8: The First Eight. An examination of the career of game-changing director and producer Quentin Tarantino, the project from filmmaker Tara Wood features contributions from such frequent QT collaborators as Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell, and is made to order for passionate film buffs in a state of self-”Quarantino.” Continue reading