• Robin Kampf, digital media producer at the NJSBA, speaks to the crowd as she gets ready to announce the winners of the NJSBA-sponsored category.

For the past several years, the New Jersey School Boards Association has sponsored a student film category in the Garden State Film Festival called the NJSBA’s New Jersey Hometown Documentary Short.

On Thursday, March 21, the Association’s executive director and CEO, Dr. Timothy Purnell, joined Robin Kampf, digital media producer at NJSBA, to honor this year’s winning student producers and directors who submitted an entry to this year’s competition.

The winning group of student filmmakers this year is from Franklin High School in Somerset County.  They were honored at a ceremony at Asbury Lanes Stages, a landmark venue in Asbury Park, to kick off the start of this year’s film festival. About 450 New Jersey student filmmakers and their TV/film teachers were in attendance.

The student producers/directors are Kazeem Kotun, Aryan Patel and Kennedi Smith. The TV/film teachers are Michael Pinnix, PJ Bracco and Chris Paskewich.

“Every frame is a canvas… every scene a story,” Purnell said. “At NJSBA, this is one of my favorite stories — about our students. Students, continue to go forward fearlessly and make your mark on this world.”

Kampf added, “Filmmaking is an artform that captures the ‘A’ in the STEAM curriculum, and NJSBA proudly supports these talented future filmmakers. Filmmaking began in New Jersey, so recognizing these future filmmakers is a great way to honor our state’s history.”

Entries must be written, produced and edited by a student and be under five minutes. The mini documentary must tell a story that has something to do with the hometown of the student(s) and focus on some aspect of the arts, music, history, culture, a person, place, etc.

The Garden State Film Festival is the largest international festival in the state and is recognized nationwide as one of the most prestigious.

The festival has been showcased in major international media outlets, such as Variety, Vogue Global Network/Condé Nast, Deadline, IndieWire, ET Canada, News Entertainment and others.

The event stimulates economic growth through the arts, invests in the creativity of students, makes the arts accessible to underserved populations and preserves heritage arts.

Students can submit their films to be considered as next year’s winners between May 1, 2024, and Jan. 8, 2025. The winner will be announced at next year’s festival.

For more information, visit GSFF.org or email  Kampf.