Ed Asner & More Set for 14th Annual GARDEN STATE FILM FESTIVAL

This year's exciting Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) will feature international, domestic and local filmmakers along with 214 films from over 17 countries, including a number of award-winners and premieres. "We are so proud of the quality of the films we will present," said GSFF Executive Director, Margaret Fontana. "We are also thrilled by the high-caliber of talent, from both in front of and behind the camera, that will be in attendance to generously share their experiences with festival goers."

The festival kicks off with a special MEET THE FILMMAKERS night at the Celebrity Theater at the Claridge Hotel on Thursday March 31 at 6:30PM. Audience and filmmakers are invited to a cocktail reception followed by a screening of trailers for the weekends up coming films. Don't miss this opportunity to see which films you don't want to miss in the following days. The evening is $12 ticket available online or at the door.

Notable names attending the festival include Sally Struthers (Independent Spirit Award), Al Sapienza (GSFF 2016 MVP), Joseph Russo (Rising Star), Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Omar Sharif Jr., Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2016, Gina Mellish, Yoruba Richen, Ronnie Marmo and Ed Asner, who will be returning for his fourth festival. They will be joined by a host of other featured actors from the presented films along with directors, cinematographers, composers and producers. Atlantic City VIPs attending the festival include the festival's 2014 Honorary Chairman, Mayor Don Guardian, and 2016 Honorary Chair, CEO of FantaSea Resorts, Bruce Kaye. They will all gather at the Gala Cocktail Party at Resorts Hotel and Casino on Friday, April 1st starting at 6:30pm.

Following the Gala, the party will move into the Superstar Theater for the Friday night screening of comedic drama Dough. This warmhearted and humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places centers on the unlikely friendship between an old Jewish baker (Jonathan Pryce) trying to save his family business and a young Muslim refugee from Darfur trying to help his mother by selling cannabis on the side. Tickets are $25.00 and include both the Gala and the 1st screening.

Comedy Baby, Baby, Baby will screen on Saturday April 2nd at 3:15pm at Resorts Superstar Theater and follows two mismatched people living in Los Angeles who meet and fall in love. The relationship is perfect, until it's not, as jealousy gets the better of the couple when Sunny gets a big break from gallery owner played by Kelsey Grammer. This entertaining film also has big-star cameos from William Shatner and Cloris Leachman.

On Saturday April 2nd, join Mark Shapiro from LAIKA, who will take us through the comprehensive handmade process that has created three Oscar-nominated feature films: Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012) and The Boxtrolls (2014). Building entire worlds by hand, piece by piece, learn how LAIKA creates life in 24 frames per second at 1pm at the Claridge Ballroom.

See it first as Jerri Rice screens her work-in-progress Embargo playing Saturday, April 2nd at 2:45pm at Resorts Screening Room. The film is about her chance encounter with Fidel Castro that leads her on a personal journey to uncover the truths behind the tumultuous and often clandestine relationship marking a half-century of United States and Cuban foreign policy. Jerri is accompanying President Barak Obama to Cuba during his historic visit to film and will be on hand at GSFF for a lively update.

Later that evening, festival goers will have the opportunity to join Ed Asner, Sally Struthers and Al Sapienza to hear directly from the stars who really know what it takes to make it in Hollywood during our "Actors on Acting" panel taking place Saturday April 2nd, 7:00pm at Resorts.

Playing on Sunday, April 3rd at 12:45pm at The Claridge Celebrity Theater will be Drawing Against Oblivion, created by Austrian artist Manfred Bockelmann. The mission of this film, seen through the eyes of the artist as he embarks on a trips to the US and Auschwitz, is retrieving from oblivion the innumerable children who were murdered by the Nazis and then faded away into anonymous archival statistics.

Short films celebrated during the festival include The Train, screening on Saturday, April 2nd at 5:30pm, about a man reluctantly agreeing to meet his girlfriend's grandfather, played by Academy Award Winner Eli Wallach in his last film appearance, learning how life can change in a moment. The Pledge of Allegiance, narrated by Ed Asner, is screening at Sunday, April 3 at 12:30pm at Resorts Ballroom and is the story of how the Pledge came to be; an engrossing tale of money, power, politics and passion.

Other films with ties to the Garden State include Star Crossed Lovers, a Romeo & Juliet for the modern age that was shot on location in Sea Girt and plays on Saturday, April 2nd at 2:45pm at Resorts Ballroom. Saturday night at 8:15pm is perfect for the story of a one-hit rock and roll wonder who comes home to Asbury Park - itself on the rebound - to seek redemption in Let Me Down Hard at Resorts Ballroom. Lastly, the documentary, Beneath the Olive Tree, narrated by New Jersey's own Olympia Dukakis, is about a secret journal that documents the incredible stories of women's political exiles during Greece's tumultuous civil war and screens on Sunday, April 3rd at 12:15pm at Resorts Horizon Room.

Other events include an open talent casting call, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and a black-tie awards ceremony. All events are open to the public. Weekend passes are $45 and provide access to all events except the Black Tie Awards Dinner, which can be purchased separately for $125. Individual screening tickets are $12. All can be purchased at www.gsff.org where complete schedule information can be found. Parking is available for attendees with a discount on the festival's website.

About the Garden State Film Festival: The Garden State Film Festival was envisioned by 25-year film industry veteran Diane Raver and the late Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli in 2002 and launched the following year. Since 2003, thousands of films have made their public premiers, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have attended; and the total infusion of cash to local businesses since inception exceeds $5 million. Until 2013, it was held in Asbury Park, in and around the Convention Center complex. In 2014, it relocated to Atlantic City as a major component of DO AC, the marketing campaign to promote arts and culture the city spearheaded by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The GSFF is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization

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