Who We Are

Our Story

About GSFF

The Garden State Film Festival was born in 2002 after a chance encounter in a Sea Girt, New Jersey grocery store by  film industry veteran Diane Raver and the well-known Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli. Through their deep ties to Hollywood, Mr. Pastorelli and Ms. Raver were able to bring an all-encompassing event to the State of New Jersey. It premiered in 2003 and was immediately deemed a huge success.

Since that time, industry notables such as Glenn Close, Christopher Lloyd, Batman producer Michael Uslan, Austin Pendleton, Kurtwood Smith, James Gandolfini, Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, Lainie Kazan, Diane Ladd, Laura Dern, Bebe Neuwirth, Armand Asante, Sally Struthers and our biggest supporter Ed Asner as well as others have lent their support.

The artistic philosophy of the Garden State Film Festival is rooted in the celebration of the independent film genre and the creation of a forum where local and other independent filmmakers can exhibit their work. It was also created to pay tribute to New Jersey’s legacy as the birthplace of the American filmmaking industry in Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratories where he invented the first film cameras and projectors, to Fort Lee, where the original studios were founded. Our event provides novice and aspiring filmmakers, actors, and others interested in careers in the film business, the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals in an atmosphere conducive to learning and mentoring. Further, we are happy to present each spring in Asbury Park and to serve as an added engine for the city’s vitality through arts, commerce and culture.  

Amazing Films since 2002

Our Mission

The Garden State Film Festival was founded to promote the art of filmmaking on all levels by showcasing a wide variety of film, video and animated works as well as provide educational programs in the creative arts to the public by industry leaders.

Our Identity

About Our Logo

Image of garden state film festival logo

For those who don’t know our beautiful State of New Jersey, our whimsical logo combines the icon of a film projector with one of the state’s most other recognizable icons, our coveted Jersey Tomatoes. It may be a strange choice to incorporate in our graphics, but it pretty much says a lot about our commitment to contribute to the next crop of brilliant filmmakers here in “The Garden State” and throughout the world. After all, it is here the whole industry has its roots, from Edison’s very first motion picture camera, to the 49 motion picture studios once located in Ft. Lee to the hundreds of award winning films shot in this state every year. In their honor, we celebrate all that is homegrown with a bit of tongue and cheek as a reflection of our personality. We hope you like it and will join our crusade to bring the very best of independent film making to our great state.

Image of garden state film festival logo

What We Stand For

OUR PHILOSOPHY


The artistic philosophy of the Garden State Film Festival is rooted in the celebration of the independent film genre and the creation of a forum where local and other independent filmmakers can exhibit their work. It was also created to pay tribute to New Jersey's legacy as the birthplace of the American filmmaking industry in Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratories where he invented the first film cameras and projectors, to Fort Lee, where the original studios were founded. Our event provides novice and aspiring filmmakers, actors, and others interested in careers in the film business, the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals in an atmosphere conducive to learning and mentoring. Further, we are happy to present each spring in Asbury Park and to serve as an added engine for the city's vitality through arts, commerce and culture. See you at the movies!

Our Family

MEET THE TEAM

Honorary Board Members

  • Ed Asner
  • Armand Assante
  • Brian Frankish
  • Siobhan Fallon Hogan
  • Chance Kelly
  • Richard Kind 
  • Diane Ladd
  • Bebe Neuwirth
  • Austin Pendleton

Founders

  • Robert Pastorelli
  • Diane Raver

Staff

  • Lauren Concar Sheehy | Executive Director
  • Kristen Dirato | Director of Operations
  • Kate Cortes | Volunteer Coordinator

Board of Directors

  • Eric Ascalon | Chair
  • Heather Brittain O’Scanlon | Vice Chair
  • Stephanie Clineman | Secretary
  • Diane Raver | Treasurer
  • Lisa G. Black
  • Rosealie Rosen
  • David Holtzman
  • Joseph Sernio
  • David Schoner Jr.
  • Brian J. Sheehy Sr.