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Film Commission to Honor Lawmaker, Film Tax Credit Advocate

Sen. Loretta Weinberg will receive the 2012 Alice Award at the Garden State Film Festival, the Fort Lee Film Commission announced; the Film Commission is also leading two symposiums at the annual festival in Asbury Park.

The Fort Lee Film Commission will present Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) with its 2012 Alice Award Sunday at the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) in Asbury Park.

The annual award is named after the first woman film director in cinema history, Alice Guy Blache, and Weinberg is being honored this year in recognition of her efforts to reinstate the tax credit for film and TV production in New Jersey “where the American film industry was born,” said executive director Tom Meyers of the Fort Lee Film Commission.

“We chose Loretta because she actually was living in Fort Lee when we formed the Film Commission over a decade ago, and she was a great supporter of our work,” Meyers said. “Over the years, Loretta worked within the Legislature to give more notice to Fort Lee as a pioneer film community.”

Weinberg also helped the Film Commission with programs honoring Alice Guy Blache, Meyers added.

“Most recently, she has fought for the reinstatement of a state tax credit for film and TV production,” he said. “This is essential in the state where the American film industry was born. These are just some of the reasons that Senate Majority Leader Weinberg deserves our Fort Lee Film Commission 2012 Alice Award, as she holds the same independent spirit and courage and tenacity as did the first woman director in cinema history, our own Alice Guy Blache.”

At a at , during which lawmakers urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to reinstate the Digital Media and Film Tax Credit, Weinberg said the high cost of making movies today “virtually guarantees” that any state that doesn’t offer some form of tax incentive is certain “to lose out on the lion’s share of the business.”

“[New Jersey has] a proud history of the arts and certainly of filmmaking beginning right here in Fort Lee,” Weinberg said. “And we stand for a lot more than Snooki and [The Real Housewives of New Jersey].”

She also said that given the high costs associated with making films, producers of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which chronicles "a slice of our state’s history," chose to film in Long Island rather than Atlantic City "because they could recoup those losses through [New York’s] generous tax credit.”

The Film Commission will present the award to Weinberg at the GSFF Awards Dinner on Sunday, March 25.

Past winners of the Alice Award include Academy Award-winning actress and director Lee Grant and indie film actress Parker Posey.

Film Commission to Lead Symposiums at GSFF

The Film Commission will also be leading two symposiums as part of the annual film festival in Asbury Park, which takes place March 22-25.

The first, called "Reel Jersey Girls: Centennial of Alice Guy Blache's Solax Studio - One Hundred Years Of Women Filmmakers," is a panel discussion exploring the history of women filmmakers in New Jersey dating back to 1912. 

Moderated by Fort Lee Film Commission member and blogger Christina Kotlar, the panel will also include award-winning New Jersey filmmaker Nancy O'Mallon; filmmaker, screenwriter, actress, songwriter, radio personality and author Beth Rosen; producer, casting director and Women in Film and Television International chair Kimberly Skyrme; and filmmaker and producer/director of Men of the Cloth Vicki Vasilopoulos.

The symposium is “in celebration of the first woman film director in cinema history, Alice Guy Blache, and the centennial of her building and opening her Solax Studio [in Fort Lee in 1912],” Meyers said.

“Reel Jersey Girls: Centennial of Alice Guy Blache's Solax Studio - One Hundred Years Of Women Filmmakers” is Saturday, March 24, at 2:30 p.m. at SICA Gallery, located at 610 Cookman Ave. in Asbury Park.

The second Fort Lee Film Commission-sponsored symposium is on Sunday, March 25, at 1 p.m., also at SICA.

Entitled “The Business of Film Making in New Jersey: Birthplace of the American Film Industry,” the panel will discuss that history and the state of the industry today.

“[Weinberg] will lead the discussion on how to advocate for film and TV production in New Jersey,” according to Meyers, who will serve as moderator.

In addition to Meyers and Weinberg, panelists for the Sunday event include Jean Frost, assistant executive director of the Directors Guild of America; Steve Gorelick, executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission; Marc Perez, co-president and founding partner of Sirk Productions in New York City; William J. Pascrell III, Esq. of Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc.; and Joseph J. Vargas, president of MediaMix Studio in Allendale.

Meyers said the Film Commission is hopeful the two symposiums will serve not only to highlight “the great history of New Jersey as the birthplace of the American film industry,” but also to “shed light on the current day filmmakers from New Jersey who carry on that tradition.”

“We also hope that the Sunday symposium on the business of filmmaking will rekindle the efforts to re-institute a tax credit for film and TV production in New Jersey and bring back an industry that was born in the Garden State,” Meyers said. “We are happy with the panels we assembled for both days, and we feel very strongly that these symposiums will be a highlight of the largest film festival currently held in the state of New Jersey.”

For more information, contact Meyers at 201-693-2763 or visit the Garden State Film Festival’s website.

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