NEWARK, NJ - The Newark International Film Festival kicked of its 3-day festival on Thursday evening with an opening reception and film screening.

The Hahne and Co. building opened its grand lobby to hundreds of attendees for the annual NIFF and an array of celebrity ambassadors. Guests dined, danced and mingled their way through the venue during the opening night festivities.

There were a few notable entertainers in attendance, including Mario Van Peebles, Rob Stapleton, Tobias Truvillion and numerous others.

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After making its official launch in January of 2016, the Newark International Film Festival (Newark IFF) has been building buzz and growing each year.  In it's inaugural year, NIFF started with nearly 800 submissions. Now, a few short years later, founder Kenneth Gifford has stated that over 1800 films across various genres were submitted from over 50 countries around the world. 

Gifford said, "Tonight was an amazing night. We had a lot of people here."

He continued, "The festival has received over 1800 submissions from around the world. We invite you to come check NIFF out." 

According to published reports, the Newark International Film Festival is set to bring thousands of filmmakers and festival goers to Newark to showcase an array of film-focused events including screenings, workshops, celebrity Q&A panels, and more.

Newark leaders in media and film in attendance were including, but not limited to Jeff Billingsley (Cobblestone Multi-media), Audrey Egypt -Young (Global Mixed Gender Basketball ), John Blassingame (Publisher, fashion expert), Anthony Smith (Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District), Dwayne Seaton (Sounds of Tomorrow), William Michael Barbee (Author, director).

Local and county elected officials, including Freeholder Wayne Richardson, Antionette Baskerville-Richardson, former Irvington Councilman John Sowell and many others graced the red carpet during the night, as well.

The Newark IFF organizers state that it is the first international film festival of its kind hosted in the city of Newark.

With the grand staircase as center stage, guests were entertained by singer Antoine Robinson and his band as they  enjoyed an array of hors d'oeuvres and beverages provided throughout the venue. Picture booths were scattered for guests to capture the evening as an array of dignitaries, sponsors, celebrities and partners mingled together greeting one another.

TAPinto caught up to some of the guests in attendance to ask for their input on the event.

Seaton, who is the founder of a Newark-based Non-profit organization called Sounds of Tomorrow, stated that he was looking forward to bringing back resources for his organization.

When asked to provide insight into what Sounds of Tomorrow does and how they may benefit from participation, Seaton said, "Sounds of Tomorrow is a regional talent development and educational program designed for youth and young adults who want to fulfill entrepreneurial careers within the arts and entertainment industry."

He added that participation in community initiatives and creative content submissions in festivals, such as the NIFF, is an opportunity that he and his team look forward to cultivating for their students.

After the opening mixer, guest traveled to the Newark Citiplex 12 for the premiere of “The Stuff.” Many of the cast was in attendance, including writer/Executive Producer, Stapleton. 

The Action/Dark Comedy depicts a pair of good natured illegal cable hustlers who snatch a bag filled with illegal ‘Stuff’ they find themselves thrust in the path of a cell of corrupt cops who are hell-bent on recovering the bag to help settle a score with the Irish Mob. What the duo find, is that in quest of trying to gain everything they can easily lose whats most important to them including their very own lives.

Cast includes the following: Al Thompson, Rob Stapleton, Tobias Truvillion, Dana Watkins, Nicolas Tucci, Michael Blackson, Gary Sturgis, Murda Mook, Melyssa Ford, Alberto Vazquez, Danny Garcia, Omar Salgado, Jacinto Riddick, Charlie Baltimore, Corey Fernandez, Karmia Berry, Steven Fernandez

A main feature of the Newark IFF will be the Hannibal Goodwin Award for Innovation in Filmmaking. This award is in honor of Hannibal Goodwin, the Episcopal priest who invented celluloid film in Newark in 1887. 

Throughout the 3-day event, participants will be able to attend various workshops, celebrity Q&A panels, and receptions that will provide access and platforms for filmmakers and content creators to benefit from the experience and resources of experts in the business.

Among the scheduled events for the three-day weekend, the Newark IFF will premiere Mario Van Peebles’ film, “Armed.”

The NIFF will also include a panel discussion with Malik Yoba, Kim Hawthorne and the Tate brothers and a writers conversation with Richard Wesley, Cheo Coker, Frankie Faison, and Warrington Hudlin, among many other events. For more information, visit NIFF.


If interested in purchasing tickets or attending any events or workshops for the remainder of the festival, visit the link below: