Ed Asner, Laura Dern, Bebe Neuwirth and More Set for Garden State Film Festival, Kicking Off Today in Atlantic City

Ed Asner, Laura Dern, Bebe Neuwirth and More Set for Garden State Film Festival, Kicking Off Today in Atlantic City

This year, the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) celebrates its Twelfth Anniversary with a historic move to Atlantic City from Asbury Park. The festival, founded in 2003, runs now through April 6, 2014 in various locales in Atlantic City with financial, marketing and logistical support from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

In addition to 184 film screenings from 16 countries, there will be a gala cocktail party, panel discussions, book signings, Q & A sessions, educational programs, an open casting call, and a black-tie awards ceremony. Celebrities and honorees scheduled to attend are Ed Asner, Dara Brown, Laura Dern, Lieutenant Governor Kimberly Guadagno, Diane Ladd, Scott Neustadter, Bebe Neuwirth, Paul Castro Jr., Franklin Ojeda Smith and many others, with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian serving as Honorary Chair. Weekend passes are $60 and can be purchased at

The festival opened last night, April 3 with educational programming and screenings for public school students during the day. That evening, at 7:00 pm, the GSSF co-presents a special benefit for the Historic Organ Restoration Committee (HORC) to restore the Midmer-Losh Organ, the largest pipe organ in the world. HORC will screen the 1926 silent film, The Black Pirate, with live organ accompaniment in Boardwalk Hall. Tickets are $15 Tickets and may be purchased at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at or by calling 1-800-736-1420. All proceeds to support HORC.

Tonight, April 4th, GSFF hosts its own Opening Night Kick-Off Party at Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian will serve as Honorary Chair, emcee, and cut the ribbon on the city's newest cultural event. Joining him that evening will be celebrity VIPs Ed Asner, Diane Ladd, and actor, orator and Stockton College professor, Franklin Ojeda Smith, this year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Smith appears in the dramatic feature, Pacing the Cage, on Saturday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. in Resorts and will field questions from the audience along with the film's director E.B. Hughes.

The Kick-Off Party begins at 7:00 p.m. with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the Resorts Ballroom. It will be followed by a premier screening in the Superstar Theatre of How to Make Movies at Home, an independent comedy set in small town Maine. When the town is selected as the location for a reality show, local filmmakers come face to face with Hollywood. The film's writer and director Morgan Nichols, producer Amy Palmo, cinematographer David Danesh, and most of the cast are attending the party and will participate in a Q&A after the screening. Mr. Nichols previous features, Jesus Freak and The Little Death received numerous awards and critical acclaim. A Weekend Pass or a $25 fee provides admission to both events, tickets to just the film are $12 and all are available at

There's a lot more to laugh about at the festival. Miguel Ali's offbeat hybrid-improv, Confessions of a Womanizer, starring Gary Busey, C. Thomas Howell and Andrew Lawrence, tells the story of a compulsive womanizer who becomes best friends with a transgendered prostitute. In the short category are a number of comic documentaries, dramas and docudramas. Mortified Nation is a cross-country documentary about a grassroots stage show where adults share their most embarrassing childhood diaries, letters, poems and art with total strangers. The short, Guest House, stars Mark Gessner and Michael Gross as combative son and father. Tempers flare when depressed and down on his luck Lance must move back home with his parents and into the family guest house.

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