• Jersey City’s Golden Door International Film Festival {September 20-23, 2018}

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    Golden Door Film Festival is a Jersey City-based film festival that spans over a four-day stretch and celebrates the strides of independent filmmakers. Films are shown throughout the city and then on the final day, an awards ceremony honors the winners in several different categories. This year, the Golden Door Film Festival takes place from September 20-23.

    golden door 2018 festival

    In both 2015 and 2016, Golden Door was named the Best Film Festival in the state of New Jersey. In 2018, Movie Maker Magazine named Golden Door as one of the Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.

    Now in its eighth year, Golden Door is set to screen over 200 films in different locations throughout JC. To kick off the four-day event, a red carpet ceremony will take place on Sept. 20 at Loew’s Landmark Theatre in Journal Square. “Undiscovered Country” — a movie by Hoboken filmmakers — will kick off the festival, followed by “Nightingale,” the story of a man putting on a one-man show during a nuclear holocaust.

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    Hoboken Girl chatted with Michele Sorvino, Executive Director of GDIFF, and wife of Bill Sorvino, the actor and founder behind the festival. We got the scoop on the festival’s humble origins and the personal experience that inspired Sorvino to launch what eventually became New Jersey’s award-winning film festival. Check out our interview below:

    How did the Golden Door International Film Festival get its start?

    “Golden Door Film Festival began in 2010 by founder Bill Sorvino,” explains Michele Sorvino. “After waking up from a dream about having a festival in his beloved Jersey City he presented the idea to some JC folks he’s known his whole life including former councilwoman and Jersey City legend Cathy Macchi, we were off to the races!”

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    {Photo credit: David Vanderheyden}

    What inspired Bill Sorvino to create a film festival?

    “Bill is an actor and comes from a long line of actors and performers including Paul and Mira Sorvino whom he counts as uncle and cousin,” says Michele. “As a performing artist and sometimes filmmaker, he became inspired to begin the festival to give his colleagues a platform to shine.”

    “The arts community was beginning to boom in JC,” Michele continues. “There was a lot of art but no film and media outlets. Bill saw this as an opportunity to give back to the city he loves and was raised in.”

    With GDIFF an immediate success, Michele was named the executive director. In the four years since she has focused on the growth of the festival and positioning GDIFF as a non-profit organization that raises autism awareness through filmmaking and screening.

    golden door film festival 4

    {Photo credit: David Vanderheyden}

    How does Golden Door differ from other film festivals?

    “We pride ourselves on being an elite festival without ever being elitist,” explains Michele. “We have some of the most glamorous red carpet events and galas anywhere in the east coast but we maintain a welcoming atmosphere to all. All filmmakers are considered equals and are given the same opportunity to shine. GDIFF is the largest film festival in NJ. We have been named Top 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee by Moviemaker Magazine in 2018 — this is the most coveted recognition for film festivals around the world.

    What’s the process of choosing films like?

    We receive close to a thousand submissions, however, we can only accept around 200. Quality of story is number one! The jury is comprised of industry professionals.”

    You can check out the full list of members of the jury here.

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    {Photo credit: David Vanderheyden}

    How do you go about deciding which films are a good fit for Golden Door?

    The submissions committee rates all the films and we accept all films that fit our guidelines for quality and content. We do not accept films that have screened previously in New Jersey as we want each film to have a wonderful premiere in New Jersey,” Michele explains. “Hoboken filmmakers seem to be popular this year. Our opening night film is ‘Undiscovered Country,’ (from Hoboken filmmakers), ‘Lies & Oblivion: Session’s Vocal Unit’ Jezabel Montero and Margo Singalese (Hoboken).

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    {Photo credit: David Vanderheyden}

    Q: Are there going to be any celebrities attending this year’s festival?

    “The Sisters Plotz stars Eve Plumb, who is most famous for playing “Jan” on The Brady Bunch. Plumb is listed as attending the festival in Jersey City. Also expected to be in attendance are cast members from The Real Housewives of New York City and The Sopranos,” Michele noted.Local fighter Chuck Wepner, who is known as the “Bayonne Bleeder” will also be there as he was recently featured in a film about the original Rocky movie.

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    Have you ever attended the Golden Door Film Festival? Share your experience with us below! We’ll see you there this weekend.

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    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.


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