Honorees | Garden State Film Festival



Honorary Chair

Bruce Kaye HDST

Bruce Kaye

GSFF is proud to announce successful Atlantic City real estate developer Bruce Kaye as the festival’s Honorary Chair.  Mr. Kaye entered the real estate business in 1966 and has been involved in some of the most successful transactions in commercial real estate during his career. He is currently the Owner and CEO of FantaSea Resorts company, which includes the Atlantic City properties of the Flagship Resort, The Atlantic Palace Resort and La Sammana. GSFF’s mission to bring artistic excellence to Atlantic City perfectly aligns with Mr. Kaye’s vision and contributions to the community and we are thrilled to honor him.”



Independent Spirit Award


Sally Struthers

All of us at GSFF can’t think of a more appropriate Independent Spirit recipient than Sally Struthers. From her role as “Gloria”on the iconic 70’s show “All In The Family” to her voice over work, theater performances, and continuing role on “Gilmore Girls”, Sally has also found time to be a passionate spokes person for the Christian Children’s Fund crusading to end  starvation in under-developed countries. Bravo and Congratulations Sally, you are our kind of Independent Spirit indeed.




Broader Vision Award

Civic story

The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) proudly recognizes a deserving organization each year with the Broader Vision Award for film making dedicated to the greater good. This year’s honoree is cultural news site CivicStory.org – an exceptional organization that creates short videos that highlight transformative activity in New Jersey and beyond. “CivicStory embodies the spirit of GSFF by harnessing the power of film making to make a difference in the community,” Congratulations Civic Story keep up the good work!



Al Sapienza HDST

Al Sapienza

Long time GSFF friend and supporter Al Sapienza started studying music at the age of eight. Five months after graduating NYU he landed a role in the Broadway musical “Beatlemania”.  From there he headed to Los Angeles. He studied with Milton Katselas until 1998 when he landed the role of Mikey Palmice in “The Sopranos” and more recently appeared in “The Big Short”. Congratulations Al on all you have accomplished.

GSFF  Rising Star 2016


Joseph Russo

The recipient of the GSFF 2016 Rising Star Award is Joseph Russo  born in Pequannock, NJ.  Joey is a graduate of Hofstra University. Joey has appeared on TV shows such as: BONES, PARKS and REC, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, iCARLY, as well as a SyFy original JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK, which became a cult classic. After getting cast in a film titled #LUCKY NUMBER, starring Malcolm Goodwin, Thomas Pelphery and METHOD MAN.  Joey got cast to play the role of Joe Pesci in JERSEY BOYS, directed by Clint Eastwood.    Joey continues to practice his craft at the Jocelyn Jones Studio in Los Angeles. He also directs, produces and stars along side his close friend Jeremy Luke, in the comedy web series “Turbo & Joey,” which documents the journey of two guys from back east trying to “Make it in Hollywood.” The hilarious web-series can be seen on YouTube and www.TurboandJoey.com.

Garden State Film Festival – Donna Lisa Rothstein Screenplay Competition was instituted to recognize the importance of the writer as the foundation for a really great film. Coordinated by our friends at the New Jersey Screenwriter’s Network, our goal is to shine a spotlight on this year’s winning screenplay, host a live stage reading by professional actors, and create an atmosphere conducive to industry professionals attending and supporting this great script.


WELCOME TO CAMELOT by Rachel Goldberg