WO man’s film is selected for Garden State Film Festival

A West Orange resident’s film has been chosen for the Garden State Film Festival, which is celebrating its 22nd Anniversary March 21 – 24.

The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) celebrates the independent film genre by bringing a carefully curated and enriching selection of original works from locally produced filmmakers as well as from around the world.

“The upcoming 2024 Festival returns to experience 200 films from over 14 countries over four days in 8 venues hosting parties, professional panels, events, special honors and more,” said Lauren Concar Sheehy, the festival’s executive director.

The Garden State Film Festival offers several categories for films and filmmakers, including feature length and short films, documentaries, comedies, children’s, thrillers, pilots, student films and “Home-Grown” films shot in N.J.

Among the films chosen for the festival was “Be Not Afraid” directed by West Orange resident, Chris Carden.

“We are extremely proud to present ‘Be Not Afraid’ as a part of our 22nd Annual Film Festival, and to share this work with our global audience,” said Lauren Concar Sheehy, the festival’s Executive Director.

“Be Not Afraid” will screen on Saturday, March 23, at 5:45 p.m. at Cranford Theater in Cranford.

The film is about the journey of incarcerated individuals at Garden State Correctional Facility, guided by dedicated music teacher Dante Coluccio. As the prison band prepares for an upcoming concert, the film intimately follows lead singer Ben, a man serving a 12-year sentence, whose impending release forces him to confront the bonds forged with his bandmates, now akin to brothers. Through Ben’s story, the documentary illuminates the profound impact of musical education within prison walls, revealing how it imparts not just musical prowess, but also rehabilitates through vital life skills of teamwork and unwavering dedication.

The Garden State Film Festival will be presented in multiple venues in the Asbury Park area, with special events and screenings each night. A full day of screenings will also be presented at The Cranford Theater in Cranford on Saturday, March 23 starting at noon with the last screening ending at 10:15 p.m.