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film one fest logo-Free retro-themed drive-in to offer food, drinks and high-tech screen-

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ –  Atlantic Highlands’ popular festival of supershort films – FilmOneFest – celebrates its eighth year on July 16 with the addition of a third screening area – one that recreates a Jersey shore original – a drive-in theater.


“This will be a unique, don’t-miss event,” said founder and technical director Robert O’Connor. “And admission is free! We invite viewers young and old to relive a classic American experience – really a New Jersey original – that has nearly disappeared.” The first US drive-in opened in Camden in 1933. Once numbering in the thousands, fewer than 400 drive-ins remain, and only one in New Jersey.


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This drive-in at the shore will feature a giant, elevated, high-definition LED screen so patrons can watch the evening’s program of short films from the comfort of their cars. Drinks, candy, and popcorn will be available to complete the retro feel.

“It will be a totally new experience for an entire generation of kids and families,” said managing director Corinna Thuss. Event host Jon Crowley added, “Some of us do remember the fun of drive-in family movie night, and now, with our actual Jersey shore drive-in, young people can experience this tradition as well. Kids will have a blast sitting in the backseat or on the hood of the car, maybe in pajamas, munching on snacks.” O’Connor said, “For one night only, visitors can feel like they’ve stepped into a time capsule – except with totally high-tech video.”

Thuss said, “Of course, we will still have our traditional lawn seating. Guests arrive at our beautiful marina location by a giant digital screen, pick a comfortable viewing spot on the grass under the stars, and settle in with friends, family, food and drink. The variety of films creates community and conversation.”

Growth of FilmOneFest

The FilmOneFest experience has grown in size and prestige to become the go-to event for short-format filmmakers – both youth and adult, amateur and professional – from around the world. “New Jersey hosts many film festivals but none like FilmOneFest,” said O’Connor. FilmOneFest exclusively showcases films under 2 minutes in length. “The super-short format is the key,” he said, ”because the challenge of telling a complete story in such a short time inspires great originality, creativity, and fantastic storytelling.” This year, FilmOneFest will present and award only the ‘best of the best’ from over 300 submissions across all genres across the United States and over 30 countries.

This year’s judges’ panel includes movie producer and manager Carol Cuddy (True Detective), television network executive and producer Jon Crowley (Impractical Jokers, Marriage Boot Camp), film critic Joan Ellis, film editor Susan Littenberg, sound editor Gedney Webb (The Hundred-Foot Journey), and film reviewer/historian Victor Zak.

Event Day

At 5pm, FilmOneFest opens at the marina, with arts vendors, a stilt walker, face-painters, and clowns. The main screening stage will feature short films submitted by filmmakers under 18 – ‘FilmYoungFest’ – and multiple live bands, including Working Class Hussys, a New Jersey-based alternative rock band with a Southern flavor, and popular local band Sam Sims. At 9 pm, screening begins of more than 40 of the best short films of 2016. Judges’ top picks will be announced, with $250 going to the highest scoring film, and $250 for the top FilmYoungFest entry. Perennial favorite People’s Choice award will be back, selected in real time by the audience.

Local restaurants and food trucks will offer a variety of options throughout the evening, including Thai, Memphis barbeque, and Mexican cuisine. Hotdogs, burgers, and sweet treats will also be available. Free popcorn and water is courtesy of Sickles Market. Seeking to outdo last year’s bicycle-powered smoothie blender, Whole Foods promises their tent will be a must-see, with food surprises from exciting vendors.

Planning Your Attendance

Drive-in spots are free, but limited, and advance registration is required. Crowley urges viewers to secure one of the 40 spots early at “Register right away because no one’s seen a drive-in at the shore in eons. The buzz is already starting, so we’ll fill-up fast,” he said. Vehicles will be pre-assigned a space based on size, and may enter any time from 5 to 8pm. The main stage live bands will also be shown on the drive-in screen, so drive-in viewers won’t miss a thing.

Walk-in admission is free for the main screen/lawn; no pre-registration is required. Lawn chairs and blankets are permitted on the great lawn. There are limited $20 premium seating spots, where attendees will view the films on an exclusive screen from cushioned bleachers. For premium seating purchases, go to and click the ‘Attend’ tab.

Rain date is Sunday, July 17. If rain on July 17, event will be held indoors; website will have details.

Volunteer and Sponsor Supported

FilmOneFest is 100% volunteer-produced, and proceeds support the Monmouth County Foodbank and the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council. FilmOneFest also supports the Atlantic Highlands Food Pantry, and will collect donations at the event.

FilmOneFest thanks its corporate sponsors, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, for their generous support. FilmOneFest is a project of the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The mission of the Arts Council is to strengthen community through the arts. For more information, go to

This program is made possible in part by Monmouth Arts through funding from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and The New Jersey State Council on the Arts. FilmOneFest is also grateful for the continued support of Tom Bernard and Sony Pictures Classics.


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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...