Once upon a time, in a city across the river from New York, overlooking the majestic skyline, there was a smashing film festival filled with celebrities, actors, film makers, paparazzi, and glitzy guests from all over the world.
This upscale Jersey City event, in its sixth proud year, was appropriately named the Golden Door International Film Festival, run by the Sorvino family and its board of directors, with Michele Sorvino at the helm. It welcomes all who are interested in movies or work in the film industry, with open arms as attendees. It’s the ‘Golden Door’ to the entertainment industry.
Aside from showcasing hundreds of films from around the globe, the Golden Door Film Festival highlights something that touches so many – autism. Some of the films shown each year have themes that deal with how autism affects the lives of people we all know.
This year’s Golden Door Film Festival was sponsored by many community organizations and big brand companies, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which provided libations for opening night, as well as red carpet events. The sponsors, generously allow for a four day, first class extravaganza, which may as well be the sister to the Sundance Film Festival, in the North East.
Opening night is always a glamorous gala. Stars come out above, as well as below the sparkling city, dressed to the nines, and ready to celebrate the hard work and talent of everyone showcasing their films on the big screens. As I ran tip-toe across the street in heels and a metallic gown to the historic Loew’s Jersey Theatre, a few onlookers couldn’t help but stare and wonder why I was all dressed up among a sea of commuters on their way home from work.
But if anyone looked just beyond the crosswalk, they could see a line of anxiously awaiting patrons wrapped around the block, all dressed in sparkly gowns and tailored suits who would be checking into the same venue as me, for the beginnings of another Golden Door Film Festival.
This year, the festival welcomed athletes from the NY Giants, including running back Rashad Jennings, and celebrity judges such as actor/writer Christian Keiber.
The do-not-miss red carpet event on Saturday night was the screening of Tom Baldinger’s first feature film, “Who’s Jenna…?” where the legendary actress Amber Lynn, who has a cameo in the movie, had flown out from Los Angeles to join fellow cast and crew for an amazing evening.
Actors Joseph D’Onofrio (known instantaneously for his roles in A Bronx Tale and Goodfellas) Garry Pastore (Gotham, The Deuce, Rob the Mob) and Bill Sorvino (who is also founder of the festival) all have lead roles in “Who’s Jenna…?” and were also in attendance at this second standing-room-only screening of the romantic comedy surrounding a humorous case of mistaken identity, an obsessed-with-porn geek, all the while delivering an important underlying message about not judging people.
Director Tom Baldinger and his wife, Kelly, CEO of 624 Productions, LLC. were there, as well as many other cast and crew to celebrate the evening.
An hour and half after admission to the “Who’s Jenna…?” screening began, people were still pouring in the door. Previously, the film held a sold out screening at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, NJ, and the attendance for this event was on par.
Throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday patrons could select films that they wanted to see at venues throughout Jersey City, where directors, cast, and crew were found, happy to show off their hard work to the public. People walked the streets or jumped on the PATH train to easily access the movies on the menu which stimulated their appetites for viewing as well as afterparties that extended well into the wee hours of the mornings. Sunday culminated with an awards presentation honoring the best of the fest, and no time was wasted as the call for entries is already open for next years’ festivities in September.
Click here for a ‘Golden’ glimpse of the film award nominations and winners.
More photos from the “Who’s Jenna…?” red carpet screening can be found here.