Garden State Film Festival Goes Virtual Due to Coronavirus

Looking for entertainment during self-isolation? Embrace your inner cinephile.

Each spring, film fans flock to Asbury Park to attend hundreds of independent film screenings, panel discussions and parties during the Garden State Film Festival. Restrictions on large gatherings due to the coronavirus didn’t bode well for this year’s 18th celebration of cinema, planned for March 25–29.

Lucky for cinephiles, the show will go on—online. Ticket holders can stream more than 200 films to their devices from the GSFF’s private server March 26–29.

Planned festival events, such as industry activities, workshops and panels, have been cancelled. Instead, following each screening block, viewers can enjoy filmmaker talkbacks on Facebook.

The festival, which typically draws more than 25,000 attendees to the Shore town, screens local, national and international movies. One upside to this year’s digital experience: Movie lovers around the globe can view the films.

“We believe the opportunity to venture into a new digital frontier can serve as a blueprint for festivals worldwide,” said Lauren Concar Sheehy, executive director of the festival, in a press release. “We look forward to bringing global film fans GSFF 2020 through online and virtual exposures.”

The screening schedule remains the same. Each film will play once during the scheduled time.


March 26, 7 pm: Meet the Filmmakers; see previews of upcoming films

March 26, 8 pm: Screening of QT8: The First Eight

March 27, 8:30 pm: Screening of Team Marco

March 28: Screenings run from 9:45 am–11 pm

March 29: Screenings run from 10 am–5:30 pm

High school films will screen on Saturday and Sunday morning. This year, there are more than 50 world premieres, 80 New Jersey premieres, two dozen East Coast premieres and 15 United States premieres. Below, some films to look forward to.

Garden State Film Festival virtual

Screening Highlights

World Premiere:
Bouncing Souls: Stoked for the Summer
Documentary celebrating punk music band and the Bouncing Souls (all Jersey natives) during their 30th year as a group.

NJ Premieres:
Team Marco
Twelve-year-old Marco is obsessed with his iPad. His grandpa introduces him to bocce ball and the neighborhood crew of old Italian men who play daily at the local court. Marco rounds up a team of kids to take on his grandfather and his pals.

QT8: The First Eight
A documentary that focuses on the first 21 years of director Quentin Tarantino’s career and includes interviews with his frequent collaborators.

Foster Boy
A drama based on true events that brings to light the dark corners of the foster care system.

Stallone, Frank That Is
A look into the life and career of Sylvester Stallone’s brother. Featuring never-before-seen interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Dee Williams, Talia Shire, Duff McKagan, John Oates and more.

Burning Bright
This animated thriller features the talents and likenesses of supermodels Chanel Iman, Elsa Hosk, Jessica Stam, Nadine Leopold and actor Nolan Funk. When a mysterious briefcase is stolen, a young woman battles to reclaim it while her ex-boyfriend and his team of female assassins try to destroy her.

Billy Mitchell, a recent college graduate, spends the summer working at a mental institution run by his psychiatrist father. Billy falls in love with Virginia, a patient who is possibly crazy, or perhaps the only sane person Billy has.

East Coast Premieres:
Easy Does It 
Two small-town buddies and their accidental hostage careen across the 1970s Southwest on a treasure hunt turned crime spree.

Netflix VS. The World
The story of how a tiny, broke Silicon Valley startup forced movie making and distribution into the digital age.

How to Access The Films

Ticket holders are sent a link and access code allowing them to choose the films they wish to see.

Tickets & Refunds

Single block screening tickets, $15; Saturday pass, $30; Sunday pass, $25; all-access multi-pass, $55. Tickets can be purchased in advance or during the festival.

All ticket sales are final and refunds are not available. All screening tickets for this year’s Garden State Film Festival will be honored at the 2021 event.

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