2024 Honorees

Honorary Chair

Janice Kovach first was elected Mayor of Clinton, NJ in November of 2011. She was sworn in for her third term on January 1, 2020, and remains a strong vocal advocate for her residents and residents of other NJ communities.  In 2021 she served as the President of the NJ League of Municipalities representing all 565 cities, towns, and villages.

From 2006 to September 2010 Janice was Director of the New Jersey Division on Women. Janice believes women will be underrepresented in business and government until women become part of the decision-making process. She happily mentors women who want to run for office.

In 2017, she and her business partner established the River Town Film Festival, (RTFF) a non-profit in Hunterdon County that explores the theme of community through independent films. She has also worked with the Hunterdon County Economic Development to establish the Hunterdon County Film Commission, which she chairs. 

In 2019, Janice was appointed by Governor Murphy and received Senate confirmation as a member of the NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission where she assists productions navigating local NJ government.

Janice has served on various boards and advisory committees such as: Girl Scouts, Heart of NJ and the Women’s Heart Foundation, the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ, and the Global Advisory Board for Honor Diaries as well as being an executive board member and chair of the Education & Training Committee of the NJ Women’s Political Caucus.  She has also served in leadership roles with NatWest Bank and Prudential.

She, her husband Stephen, their two boys Zachary and Hunter and her Portuguese Water Dogs Sadie and Reign, live in Clinton while her daughter Taylor, son-in-law Joseph and grandson Bastian live in Colorado.

Lifetime Achievement for Cinematography

Ron Vidor

Ron Vidor’s envious career in cinematography spans five decades and twenty-seven westerns, setting him apart as a landmark artist, still active in his craft. Ron says, “I will never give up that ride until dying in the saddle.”

His numerous movie credits include Rocky III, Stand by Me, Lethal Weapon, Romancing the Stone, Boogie Nights, Revenge of The Nerds, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Grease II, The Sting II, Mean Streets, Carrie, Jaws, Pretty Woman, Hello Dolly, Funny Girl among others.  His television career includes gems such as The Waltons, Charlies Angels, Star Trek-(The original 1966 series) Hitchcock Presents, ER, Dallas, The Green Hornet, Batman, and The Lucy Show to name a few. Check for a great deal more on Ron’s IMDB listing.

Ron was the only cinematographer to become a union member of all three camera union jurisdictions in the U.S. at the same time and has worked in all genres of camera including features, TV, commercials, music videos, documentaries, news, specials, reality shows, and Multi Camera Sitcom. He has worked with over 101 different types of cameras from film 16mm to 65mm to video AND digital. Ron is noted to have specialized in all cinematography related specialty venues.

Throughout his storied career, Ron has worked with many notables including five different Steven Spielberg projects, and with numerous directors including Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, John Huston, Robert Zemeckis, Rob Reiner, Mel Gibson, Mel Brooks, and many more. 

Ron was one of the first four Steadicam Operators in Hollywood. He helped design the first Panaflex Camera at the request of the original head owner of Panavision. His honors include cinematography nominations and awards including Academy, Oscar, Emmy, ASC, and TV Commercial and Documentary Awards. In 2018 Ron was awarded the rare “Honorary Lifetime Member- Gold Card” of the I.A.T.S.E and International Cinematographers Guild. We are honored to add Lifetime Achievement Award for Cinematography from The Garden State Film Festival to that prestigious list!

Independent Spirit Award

Ron Perlman

Golden Globe winning actor Ron Perlman can currently be heard in the Academy Award nominated film PINOCCHIO directed by Guillermo del Toro and seen in POKER FACE for Peacock.  Prior to that, he was in NIGHTMARE ALLEY opposite Bradley Cooper & Cate Blanchett and Adam McKay’s DON’T LOOK UP opposite Leonardo DiCaprio & Jennifer Lawrence.

Next, he is set to star in the latest iteration of the Transformers franchise TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS for Paramount and the reboot of MR. AND MRS. SMITH for Amazon studios.

Prior to this, Ron can be seen in Paul WS Anderson’s MONSTER HUTER for Screen Gems as well as the incredibly popular film FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM for Heydey and Warner Bros, written by JK Rowling, and based in the Harry Potter world.   

Ron is a classically trained actor whose career spans over 30 years, having worked with George RR Martin on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Nicolas Winding Refn in the hit film, DRIVE, opposite Ryan Gosling, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, and Michelle Williams. Ron was famously the lead of Guillermo del Toro’s hit HELLBOY franchise for Columbia Pictures and also starred in Guillermo’s highly-successful film PACIFIC RIM for Warner Bros, which grossed over $400mm worldwide. In addition to his studio film success, Ron has also starred in acclaimed independent features including STONEWALL for Roland Emmerich, a Jon Robin Baitz scripted pic about the 1969 police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village that became the flashpoint for gay rights.

On the TV front, Ron has worked on many successful projects, including the hit BBC One spy thriller, THE CAPTURE, and Kurt Sutter’s hit show for FX, SONS OF ANARCHY, which ran for 7 seasons. Ron was also a series regular on Sony Crackle’s STARTUP opposite Adam Brody and Martin Freeman. His performances always bring a fresh and unique take on his role and his passion for film is why he continues to be one of the most sought-after actors in the business. Ron has an incredible ability to transition from playing a superhero to common man, allowing audiences to not only enjoy his performances but immerse themselves in his films.

lifetime achievement FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

Donald B. Kravitz

Photographs are the universal language of our era.  Mastering a tool that calls our attention to the things we miss in our everyday lives and our attention to events and people at a great distance from our own section of the universe.  Photographers are dedicated, passionate individuals who bring a vision we would otherwise not see.

The work of Donald B. Kravitz, has been showcased around the world in publications including Rolling Stone Magazine, USA Today, NY Post, NY Daily News as well as billboards and on buses and hundreds of additional magazines and newspapers. Among Don’s collection includes celebrities such as Mary J. Blige, Sting, Foreigner, Usher, Pitbull, Slash, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Heart, Jason Aldean, and many others.

After completing service as a Green Beret, Don became a professional performance and special event photographer. He began photographing Miss America in 1994, a project he still photographs. He has been a photographer for Getty Images Entertainment since 2003 and the South Jersey native proudly photographed the Philadelphia Phillies from 2008, through their World Series winning 2012 season. He is a popular photographer of the Atlantic City Casino industry as well.

Over the years, Don has volunteered his services to non-profits such as The New Jersey Special Olympics, The Sunshine Foundation and the Heart Of Surfing where he is a Board Member, the Children’s Miracle Network and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Don and his wife Carol have been married for 36 years. Both Don and Carol have been great supporters of the Garden State Film Festival over these many years and it is our great pleasure to honor Don.

See some of Don’s work here.


Kenny Vance

Singer, songwriter, music producer, actor, film director– Kenny Vance’s multi-faceted career started when he was a teenager in the 1950s, as an original founding member of the iconic rock group Jay and the Americans. The group released fifteen albums, with many singles hitting the top 10. They also opened for the Beatles at their first American show at the Washington Coliseum, as well as the Rolling Stones, at Carnegie Hall, in their first American tour. Kenny’s work spans music supervision of films, solo album projects and TV, where he was Music Supervisor for Saturday Night Live and brought legendary talent including James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Prince onto the show. His music supervision in film includes, among others, Animal House, Hairspray, the breakthrough film, The Warriors, credited as the first rock & roll full-length feature soundtrack, as well as Eddie & the Cruisers, a New Jersey classic. His collaboration with the young Walter Becker and Donald Fagen is considered foundational to their emergence as the group Steely Dan.

Kenny’s recordings and live performances with his group, Kenny Vance and The Planotones, express the heart  and soul of Doo-Wop, and  Heart & Soul: a Love Story, his debut as a film director, continues his mission to illuminate the makers and the magic of the midcentury bedrock of rock & roll.

Don’t miss Kenny Vance’s film, “Heart & Soul: a Love Story”, about the legendary artists and impact of mid-century Doo-Wop music screening on Saturday at Asbury Lanes! Congratulations Kenny! You are certainly the Spirt of New Jersey!

Exceptional Women in Film

Carla Raij was born in Minneapolis to Argentinian immigrant parents, the youngest of three daughters. She began her film career in 1994 in New York as bilingual office assistant on the film I Like It Like That, shooting in the Bronx. From this experience she built a long and successful career as a sought after East Coast based DGA Location Manager, on multiple productions such as the Academy Award® winning film The Departed, Kate & Leopold & The Day After Tomorrow, among others. After the birth of her first son, she returned to work as a Director’s Guild Unit Production Manager. After her first production management job working for Martin Scorsese on Shine a Light, her UPM career took off as she continued working on films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Tower Heist, Fast and the Furious 8 and the Academy Award® nominated films Bridge of Spies and The Post from the mind of Steven Spielberg.  In addition, she added to her resume yet another film for Martin Scorsese, The Irishman and the amazing reimagined story of The Joker by Todd Phillips. However, it is her work on West Side Story, for Amblin Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney that she currently the most proud of as Latinx Woman in the film industry.

She recently wrapped production with Steven Spielberg again, on The Fabelman’s for Amblin Entertainment.  She is married to fellow filmmaker Stuart Dryburgh, and together they have two sons, Joaquin and Mateo, and live happily in Brooklyn.


Linda Hamilton

Best known for creating the role of ‘Sarah Connor’ in the first two installments of the iconic Terminator film franchise. She is currently starring in the newest chapter, “Terminator: Dark Fate” again opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and directed by Tim Miller.  

Following the successful launch of the first Terminator film, Linda starred in the CBS series “Beauty and the Beast” opposite Ron Perlman. The series was critically acclaimed and she was nominated for both an EMMY Award and two GOLDEN GLOBE Awards. Among her other film credits are “Dante’s Peak” opposite Pierce Brosnan and “Mr. Destiny” opposite Michael Caine. 

Linda won a CABLE ACE Award and received her third GOLDEN GLOBE Nomination for her performance in “A Mother’s Prayer” on USA Network playing a woman who lost her husband and is diagnosed with AIDS.

Linda guest starred on “Frasier” and recurred on “Weeds”, “Defiance”, “Lost Girls” and the NBC series “Chuck” playing Zachary Levi’s mother and fulfilled a dream hosting “Saturday Night Live”. She also starred as the U.S. President in the SkyTV Miniseries “Air Force One is Down” as well as the independent films “Easy Does It”, “Curvature’”, and “A Sunday Horse”.


Robert Patrick

We are proud to recognize Robert Patrick as our Patriot Award recipient. Robert has a long list of credits; his breakthrough role came as the legendary T-1000 in Terminator 2. He was the first actor in the history of motion capture and since then, he has worked on iconic films and television shows including Die Hard 2, Wayne’s World, Last Action Hero, Fire in the Sky, Cop Land, The Faculty, Walk the Line, Bridge to Terabithia, Spy Kids, Flags of Our Fathers and on the television hits The Sopranos, The Outer Limits, Elvis, The Unit, The X-Files and Sons of Anarchy. As well as numerous roles on the small screen.

In addition to his acting, Patrick is a lifelong supporter of the military and the USO. The grandson of an Army veteran, who served during World Wars I and II and the Korean War, Patrick grew up with a profound respect for troops. Devoted to giving back, he regularly goes on USO hospital visits and has participated in four USO tours to seven countries since 2008, visiting more than 8,100 service members and military families. As a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and Boozefighter, Patrick served for years as an Honorary Grand Marshall for the famed Love Ride which benefited veterans. He became the proud co-owner of Harley-Davidson Santa Clarita. It is for these important efforts, close to our collective hearts that we salute him at the 18th Annual Garden State Film Festival with this prestigious award.

Rising Star Award Winner

Christian Barber

Christian Barber began performing theatre in New York City in 2006, his work often connecting his audiences to characters they wouldn’t normally identify with. He continued to attack roles and joinedSAG/AFTRA in 2016. Since then, he has worked on dozens of television and film projects fromIndependent Films to Network Television, to Netflix and more. Christian currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children

Educator of the Year


Jody S. Lazarski  is a Video Production Instructor at Passaic County Technical Vocational Schools District (PCTVS) where is responsible for the Audio/Video Television Production content for grades 11-12. Her students have created award-winning films featured in numerous film festivals including the Garden State Film Festival, and the Alliance for Women in Media’s Gracie Awards.   

Her students also compete in the Digital Cinema, Broadcast News, TV/Video Production and Audio Production SkillsUSA Competitions, and more recently, have become affiliates of the Student Television News organization competing in various STN contests. She promotes their work competitively and advises students in the creation of video projects and teaches students about news, elements of story, phases of production and crew roles equipment use and editing.  

In 2019, she was selected as Passaic County Technical Institute’s Educator of the Year.  Big congrats to Jody, and keep up the great work!


Each year GSFF recognizes an organization that uses the art of filmmaking for the greater good. This year, we are proud to present it to our friends at NJ Natural Gas in recognition of their Annual Conserve to Preserve® (CTP) Kids and Conservation Video Contest. These delightful videos stress energy conservation and protecting our environment.  There is no greater good than that! The CTP Kids and Conservation Video Contest is open to all fifth-grade students in NJNG’s service area. Students are encouraged to use their imagination to illustrate energy-saving ideas for a chance to win. Many have been selected to screen at GSFF! Well done NJNG!

Beacon Award

Gail Barringer

Gail Barringer is a television producer who began her career in production accounting. She produced over 175 episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit” and seasons 2-4 of “Person of Interest” before jumping into the Marvel world with “The Punisher” and “Luke Cage.” Barringer then went on to produce Netflix’s revival of “Tales of the City,” Hulu’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” and most recently season 1 of “Emergence” for ABC.

Screenplay Winners

Short Screenplay Winner

OVERDUE by Penny Jackson and Melissa Skirboll

Penny Jackson is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist who lives in New York City. Jackson has written and produced too many award-winning short films and theater plays to mention. In addition, she her novel Becoming The Butlers, published by Bantam Books, was chosen as one of the best novels for young adults by The New York Public Library and was optioned for film by Warner Brothers.
 She is a proud member of New York Women In Film and Television, The Actor/Directors Unit of The Actors Studio, The Dramatists Guild, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The International Center of Women Playwrights. And now a winner at GSFF! Big congrats Penny!

Profile Penny

Feature Screenplay Winner

SHELTER IN SOLITUDE by Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Siobhan Fallon Hogan is a known as a comedy actor in Hollywood. The actress has been in several blockbusters over the years including “Men in Black”, “Forrest Gump”, “Holes”, “New in Town”, “Going in Style”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “Clifford the Big Red Dog, and “Funny Games”. Her televisions credits include SNL, Seinfeld, Billions, Wayward Pines, 30 Rock, Law & Order and many more. Recently she has added writer and producer to her long-acting resume. Siobhan and her husband Peter Hogan established Emerald Caz Productions in 2019. “Shelter In Solitude” now in production, stars Robert Patrick, Peter Macon, Peter Hogan, Dan Castellaneta and Siobhan Fallon Hogan. Fallon Hogan and Peter Hogan have been married for 29 years and have three talented children.