Garden State Film Festival Names RJ Lewis 2017 Screenplay Winner

The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) announces that Phillipsburg, NJ resident writer RJ Lewis has been selected as the 2017 winner of the Donna Lisa Rothstein Screenplay Competition for his screenplay Dummy.

The Screenplay Competition was created to shine a light on the importance of a well-crafted screenplay in the overall film-making process. The globally recognized Garden State Film Festival will present this screenplay in an exciting live reading on Saturday April 1, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. in Resorts Hotel & Casino - Green Room during the festival weekend being held March 30- April 2, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Coordinated by the New Jersey Screenwriter's Network, the live stage reading is performed by a cast of professional actors. This always popular live reading is free, but seating is limited so you are encouraged to secure a ticket for the capacity house by visiting

Dummy is a comedic tale of a father who communicates with his family via his ventriloquist dummy. The reading will include an actual dummy, which will have the audience believing he has a mind of his own.

Author Lewis has an impressive 40-year career as a live and screen performer, writer and magician. RJ has "done it all," from Broadway to the movie set. He has appeared in off-Broadway productions and even been the stand-in for notables including Jeff Goldblum and Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller).

As a trained variety artist Lewis' remarkable skills include juggling, stilt-walking, fire-eating, and ventriloquism.

He has appeared as a juggler on "LAW AND ORDER"; a stilt-walking Uncle Sam for "THE APPRENTICE"; played the lead role of Todd, the tortured magician in "BEYOND BELIEF", and recently as fire-eater Tony 'Volcano' Valenci in "DOWN IN FLAMES." R.J. is no stranger to the GSFF, having appeared in the short film "Affliction," which screened at the 2016 GSFF.

"The live screenplay reading is big highlight of the festival and always draws a full house. Those attending this year will not be disappointed. Dummy is a fast, funny, and original screenplay and we are so excited to bring RJ Lewis' wonderful story to our audience. This competition shows the importance of strong screenwriting," said GSFF Executive Director Margaret Fontana.

The Garden State Film Festival includes film screenings, Thursday Meet the Filmmakers event, Friday gala, after parties, hands on stop motion animation workshop, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, an open casting call and a black-tie awards ceremony are offered to festival attendees. All events are open to the public.

Weekend passes are $45 in advance and $50 on site and provide access to all events (except the Black Tie Awards Dinner.) Individual screening tickets are $14 in advance and $15 on site. All can be purchased at where complete schedule information can be found. Resorts Hotel & Casion is offering FREE self parking during the festival adn teh GSFF Jitney Express will shuttle between venues.

This year the festival will feature 216 films from over 24 countries, host an open talent casting call, hold engaging panel discussions, opening and closing ceremonies and inspire the next generation of filmmakers. TV and film legend Ed Asner will return for his fourth GSFF along with Sally Jesse Raphael, Richard Kind other well-known celebrities.

The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) 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, the Festival was held in Asbury Park. In 2014, the Festival moved to Atlantic City with financial and operation support from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). GSFF now serves as a major component of the strategic plan to promote arts and culture in Atlantic City to re-establish the resort as the premier Mid-Atlantic entertainment destination. The GSFF is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization. For more information about the Garden State Film Festival, contact:

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