By Jennifer Principato
Wednesday, April 3 - The Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park kicks off today and will run throughout the weekend to showcase independent films from New Jersey and around the world. Attending a film festival is a great way to catch thought provoking films, various off beat story lines, (unlike the predictable Hollywood films that are most often available to us at mega theaters), and a chance to get acquainted with otherwise unrecognized talent. Often, one leaves pleasantly surprised and will think about the films they saw days afterwards. If you can get over to Asbury Park try to view at least one of the many interesting Independent films being screened over the weekend.
I highly recommend seeing the award-winning New Jersey-made short film CRACKERS starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order Criminal Intent), Brenda Vaccaro (Midnight Cowboy), Dan Hedaya (Cheers), Sal Richards (Out for Justice), Anthony Laciura (Boardwalk Empire), Beth Ann Bonner (One Life to Live) and Vincent Mora.
The film is part of a shorts showcase and will be screening at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park on Saturday, April 6 at 8:15 pm. The short film, with a run time of 32 minutes, has been widely received throughout the country and been the recipient of six awards including The People’s Choice Award and Best Short Film at the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, Best Short Comedy at The World Cinema Festival, Audience and Juried Award for Best Short at the Teaneck Film Festival and Special Jury Award at the San Diego Film Festival.
It is a dark comedy, about the unraveling of an otherwise content chef (Vincent D’Onofrio) who now finds himself out of work and having to share his home with his cantankerous mother in law (Brenda Vaccaro), and her nutcracker collection. It’s only until he turns to his oddball neighborhood friends, (Sal Richards and Anthony Laciura) for help when things get worse and he slowly loses his paradise, his sanity and all that is sacred to him.
The film was shot in South Amboy and made by New Jersey resident, and award–winning filmmaker, Gregory Principato, (Mr. Laughs –A Look Behind the Curtain – 2009), who has directed, produced and co-wrote, along with fellow Union county resident, Timothy Reinhardt. When asked how they came up with the story, Principato said the experience had been surreal. The story had been twirling around my head for years, and once I met Tim, a novelist, we decided to work together, our ideas just came together so quickly. It took us three weeks to write the full story. Some of the characters come from our personal experiences and upbringing, so the dialogue felt real, but I was particularly amazed about how smoothly the partnership between us evolved as we met weekly at our local Barnes and Noble to work on the story.” Although Gregory has directed projects before and Tim has other fictional works written, this was the team’s first attempt in writing a screenplay.
“There were times I was pacing, waving my hands and yelling out profanities as part of the dialogue, while Tim was sitting on the floor with his laptop plugged in to the wall in the back of the store by the restrooms. One time, there was this elderly woman on her way to the bathroom when she had caught us in mid-dialogue, with me yelling, 'Now Gus, feed the crazy old broad some kind of potent drug." I felt like a deer caught in the headlights when I turned around to see this sweet old woman staring at me. The look on her face was just priceless.” Principato explains. “If you have a warped sense of humor you will definitely enjoy the movie.”
If dark comedy is not your thing, there are many other films to choose from, go to www.gsff.orgor call (877) 908-7050 for more information and movie times.