WESTFIELD, NJ – Lovers of the silver screen, both filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike, gathered this weekend to celebrate and experience the 5th Annual Rahway International Film Festival at Downtown Westfield’s James Ward Mansion. Running Friday evening through Sunday, guests could come and go to partake in any or all of the weekend’s many offerings.

Friday evening began with an opening night gala cocktail hour where guests and filmmakers alike experienced the red carpet treatment while exploring the James Ward Mansion. Both a short film and feature film were shown, followed by filmmakers Q&A and the opening night after party at 16 Prospect Wine Bar & Bistro. The building buzzed with excitement as guests showed up dressed to impress.

According to Founder and Festival Director Gina Marie Rodriguez, big changes have happened within the festival this year.

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"Our move to Westfield comes alongside our transition from the Rahway International Film Festival to Big Dreams & Silver Screens, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating audiences about the art and appreciation of filmmaking,” Rodriguez said. “We are so excited about our move. We love movies and those who dedicate their lives to creating beautiful moving pictures.”

This dedication was evident across the entire weekend as film after film captivated audiencse.

The full weekend celebrated the work of these independent filmmakers from all over the world – even right here in New Jersey. Seven feature films and 36 short films were presented. Music videos were also showcased in between film blocks. Of the films shown, the spectrum ranged from comedies and drama to documentaries.

As stated on the Rahway International Film Festival’s website, the organization is “dedicated to showcasing an equal ratio of films by female and male filmmakers in a leading role (Director/Writer/Producer), in keeping with our mission of presenting films that promote equality, awareness and open-mindedness.”

The film festival culminated with an awards ceremony celebrating the top films chosen by a panel of leading filmmakers in the local film industry.

“I've always loved the term ‘moving pictures’ because while we know the literal origins of the phrase, the finished product is what will move audiences,” Rodriguez explained. “Move them to laughter, to tears and to contemplation. People bond over a shared love of a favorite movie and our festival focuses on fostering a community of both movie-makers and movie-lovers.”

Rodriguez continued, “Westfield has been incredibly welcoming during our transition and we are so excited to be part of such a thriving community. Our hope is to share our passion and perhaps spark a new passion in others."  

For a full run down of the weekend’s events click here.