NEWARK, NJ - Three days filled with celebrity guests and showcases from both local and international filmmakers are coming to the city in September.

The third annual Newark International Film Festival will return Sept. 6 and run through Sept. 9, 2018. The festival has grown each year since it was first created, with the city last year hosting 10,000 attendees seeing films across multiple locations.

About 20 city filmmakers participated in the event when the festival first began, said the festival’s founder, Kenneth Gifford. Today, that number has risen to over 300, he said.

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“There are a lot of filmmakers that are in the city, so one of things we want to make sure we do is have an impact on the filmmakers that are here,” Gifford said today during a city hall press conference announcing the festival.

The festival this year has received more than 1,300 submissions from 78 different countries, organizers said. Celebrity guests will include Lance Gross, who played Calvin Payne in "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," and Kim Hawhthorne, who had roles in soap operas such as "All My Children" and "Another World."

Additional guests will include the Tate Brothers, Lamman Rucker, Julian Brittano, Tobias Truvillion and JD Williams.

The festival will include film screenings, stunt exhibitions and auditioning opportunities. There will also be workshops about acting, directing and producing, according to the festival's website.

An awards show will be held at Newark Symphony Hall on the last day of the event. 

Any curated content at this year’s festival will be eligible for recognition from the Academy Awards, said festival spokeswoman Khairah Walker.

"We really at this junction just want to go higher,” Walker said. “What it's about for us this year is sustainability. We basically would like to remain in Newark and our intent is to consistently give you great content.”

Mayor Ras Baraka noted today at the press conference that Newark is perhaps the largest media market outside of Los Angeles, New York City and Hollywood.

“I believe that the work we do in this area would surpass anything that's happening anywhere else in this country, outside of (Los Angeles),” Baraka said. “I think we have the opportunity, the skill, the talent, the energy to get that to take place.”

Submissions will be accepted until July 21.

The festival will be held at about 13 locations throughout the city, including the Hahne & Company Building, New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Newark Museum, Essex County College, Rutgers University-Newark, and CityPlex 12 on Springfield Avenue.

Tickets may be purchased on the festival's website

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