Legions of movie fans will descend on Asbury Park this week for the 17th Garden State Film Festival.
Movies, discussions and panels will be held at various venues throughout the city from now until the closing Sun., March 31.
The festival returns for the second year in the city after moving to Atlantic City for five years after leaving Asbury Park where it started and stayed for its first 11 years.
Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sylvia Sylvia-Cioffi said having the festival back in the city is a honor.
“Asbury Park is a city rich in storytellers, in the very best of ways,” she said. “Poets, authors, musicians and filmmakers have called this city home for generations. Having the Garden State Film Festival call Asbury Park home as well, brings even more opportunity for us to reach indy film enthusiasts, as well as brand new fans of Asbury Park. It’s a win for all of us.
“Diane Raver, who founded the festival with the late Robert Pastorelli, has a vision and commitment to the art of this genre, that is incredibly inspirational. It’s an honor, for us at the AP Chamber, to help out in any way we can this year and for years to come.”
Executive Director Lauren Concar said tickets sales have been solid with some events sold out including the awards dinner being held Sunday evening at the Berkeley Hotel’s Crystal room.
She said they are up to 18,000 on their Constant Contact list. The festival itself has an app where tickets can be purchased.
To get around the city during the festival organizers have hired a jitney from Atlantic City which will be called the GSFF Express and will be making the rounds all five days.
Concar suggested that those attending events at the Senior Center on Springwood Avenue park elsewhere and take the jitney due to limited parking at the site.
She also said that Kula Cafe, located in the same building as the Senior Center will open on Saturday for the event.
The list of free parking lots can be found on the festival’s website along with maps of all the venues. Festival programs were distributed throughout Red Bank and Asbury Park including at sponsor ABL Appliances on Asbury Avenue in Asbury Park.
This year’s event will feature many New Jersey relate themes with a screening at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Jersey Shores Arts Center of “My Dinner with Alan.”
There will be a panel discussion after the movie with Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller, Star Ledger writers and authors of a new book “The Soprano Sessions” which discusses the lasting impact of the groundbreaking HBO show produced by David Chase.
They will sign copies of their book with proceeds benefitting the GSFF
Asbury Park resident, actor and producer Thomas Bruno, will have his movie “Circle” shown Saturday night at the arts center.
The city has seen its share of citywide events in recent years and is prepared for this weekends crowds.
Mayor John Moor said he is happy that the film festival decided to come home last year after several years in Atlantic City.
“It’s a great event, so glad they came home last year after being in Atlantic City,” he said. “It was great last year and we are expecting it to be bigger and better this year.”
Moor also said the new parking program, implemented last month, is already making the parking situation easier.
The new program calls for drivers to put in their license plate number instead of a parking space number.
There is also an app, Asbury PARK, that eliminates the need to use the parking stations.
The change has resulted in reduced manpower because police can sit in their vehicles and monitor the parking.
At Langosta Lounge on the Boardwalk Manager Brianne Welsh is expecting crowds.
“It’s supposed to be 65 on Friday and 60 on Sunday so I imagine we will be busy,” she said.
Welsh said the restaurant will have it’s usual specials but is ready for the weekend festivities.
For information about the festival go to www.gsff.org.