Art on film joins other media during City Arts Weekend with the first Asbury Park Independent Film Festival, a collaboration between the Asbury Park Film Initiative and The ShowRoom.


Mike Sodano and Nancy Sabino, owners of The ShowRoom – the area’s only art-house cinema – and VJ Carbone and Marilyn Schlossbach founders of the Asbury Park Film Initiative have been working for months to bring dynamic cinema to our city in a festival format.  Their vision comes to fruition beginning Saturday (Sept. 25).

I spoke with Nancy and Mike, who have created something very special for the area in The ShowRoom, about what cinefiles and non-cinefiles alike can expect.

TBP:  What makes the Asbury Park Independent Film Festival as special as the city it is named after?

Nancy:  This is a homegrown program.  The festival has been produced and coordinated right here, with the community in mind.  Asbury Park is not just serving as the location for the festival – the city and its community interests and spirit is reflected to some degree in every film featured. 

We want film to be part of the fabric of Asbury Park as an art capital.

TBP:  What did you look for in films for the festival?

Mike:  Simply, great movies – nothing run-of-the-mill.  The films in the festival talk to the creative energy in Asbury Park and push the limits of what you expect from film.  All the films and shorts are provocative and relevant with a special creative bent.

Our goal at The ShowRoom is to never waste anyone’s time.  The only reason we are having the festival is to offer great film to the area.

Nancy:  Generally, film festivals experiment – they are more experimental than quality.  Some of it works and some of it does not for any number of reasons.

The Asbury Park Independent Film Festival consists of all exceptional film and filmmaking.  “Alamar,” “Florent,” “Freedom Riders” – these films push the boundaries of what you expect from a movie.

TBP:  How is this different than other film festivals?

Mike:  You will not find an amateur film this weekend.  No experiments.

Also, this is not a competitive film festival – this was by invitation only for filmmakers – which gave us the opportunity to feature a better class of films that would not have been available to us if there was a competition.

Directors and producers considered it an honor to have their work chosen to be showcased and are delighted to come and be part of a discussion after their great films are screened.

TBP:  So what makes a film “great”? 

Mike:  You have to be engaged throughout the film.  You have to leave with more than you came in with – that could be an emotional attachment, information or passion. be engaged.  Or it could be an appreciation of the technical experience – sound, dialogue, character development.

Nancy:  Film is storytelling.  Excellent storytelling makes a great film.  That is what you will find at the film festival and The ShowRoom everyday.

Mike and Nancy (together, laughing):  And the story needs to be told well.

Asbury Park Independent Film Festival schedule and info about the after party at the Dauphin Grill, at TheShowroomAP.com.  Advance tickets $10.