Going totally virtual has its advantages.

 ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – “When we made the decision to go virtual with all of our programs this year, we had no idea how it would extend our reach to an even bigger audience,” said Corinna Thuss, director of the international film festival showcasing one-minute films, now is in its twelfth year.

 “People from all over the world were able to be part of the event, including the filmmakers, and our audiences were much larger as a result of being virtual,” Thuss said. “For instance, our screening for young filmmakers, FilmYoungFest, can accommodate about 150 people at a live event, but this year nearly 2,000 people have seen the event online. The same with our main event, FilmOneFest. We’ve had nearly 4,000 views so far, and counting.”

The main FilmOneFest screening was presented in 30-minute episodes for the four consecutive Tuesdays leading up to the traditional festival date on the third Saturday of July.  “PJ Bracco, an award-winning actor/director, produced really clever episodes that ended with an interview with filmmakers,” explained Submissions Director David Salowe.  “Since we are a celebration of super-short films we thought it would be fun to present this year’s winners in a way that was itself a shorter format. It could not have worked out better.”

On July 18, the date of the festival, FOF winners were announced on Facebook and the winning films rebroadcast.  “More than 2,200 films were submitted this year from nearly 100 countries,” according to Salowe. “A total of 45 films were chosen for the final screening, making FilmOneFest a very competitive festival.”

In order to be included this year, filmmakers agreed to have their films broadcast on Facebook, the FilmOneFest YouTube channel, and on its website. Judges included locals PJ Bracco of Red Hook Films, television producer Jon Crowley, sound editor Gedney Webb, film editor Susan Littenberg, FOF founder Robert O’Connor and film historian Victor Zak, as well as Meghan Kaltenbach, a production and graphic designer in Los Angeles who has worked on Shameless, Animal Kingdom and Bosch. Michael Livingston, a Henry Hudson Regional School digital arts teacher, was the judge for FilmYoungFest.

“This is a totally volunteer-run organization,” Thuss noted. “We could not have done it without a bunch of people, but are especially grateful to Regina Melnyk who handles our social media and produced our Facebook Live events.”

Future plans include a community screening of the finalists. “We’ll compile the four episodes into a traditional festival showcase and present it on a big screen in a local movie theater at a later date,” Thuss said. “The arts are so important in fostering community, especially in difficult times, so we look forward to watching it as a community. What a great day when we can all be together again.”

Swag from the event with the 2020 FilmOneFest logo is still available through local business Jersey Shore Apparel. “T-shirts are something of a collector’s item, and some people have one from every year since we started,” Thuss noted. “We love what Tom Churak did this year, and how he transformed the logo to FilmOnlineFest for our virtual showing.”

Fans can order a variety of apparel online through the website Available items include sweatshirts and long or short-sleeved T-shirts for both FilmOneFest and FilmYoungFest. “During these difficult times this is an important fundraiser for us and it is an easy way for people to support our non-profit.”

fof bef oakes

Gartenberg Memorial Award: Country Things directed by B.E.F.  Oakes, NJ

The winners for FilmOneFest 2020 categories:

  • Animation: Charlie & Yip directed by Alexander Williams, UK
  • Comedy: Feet as Big as Zucchinis directed by Cyrion Willems, Netherlands
  • Drama: The Sense of Sight directed by Vladislav Sergienko, Ukraine
  • SciFi: Sustain directed by Jake Bentley, UK
  • Horror: Dark Passage directed by Roshni “Rush” Bhatia, USA
  • Gartenberg Memorial Award:Country Things directed by B.E.F.  Oakes, NJ
  • Director’s Choice: Chatter directed by Natasha Lewin, US
  • Young Filmmaker: Winter Sleep directed by Max Shoham, Canada
  • NJ Young Filmmaker: Void directed by Nidhi Patel & Maria Martinez, USA
  • FilmSlam: Egg Celsior directed by Tom Leonard and Ada McCrady, USA

The winners for FilmOneFest 2020 Judges’s Choice Awards:

  • Susan Littenberg: Chatter directed by Natasha Lewin – US / Honorable Mention: Buhle, The Movie Man directed by Tamarin Gerriety, South Africa
  • Robert O’Connor: Troll directed by Dan Lord, UK / Honorable Mention: Grandma’s Pancakes directed by Vykintas Labanauskas, Lithuania
  • Gedney Webb: World of the Fluffs directed by Chaisi Glover, Canada / Honorable Mention: Feet as Big as Zucchinis directed by Cyrion Willems, Netherlands
  • Victor Zak: Textures of a Confinement directed by Alejandro Bonilla, Venezuela / Honorable Mention: Charlie & Yip directed by Alexander Williams,  UK
  • PJ Bracco: Overthinking It directed by Chen Sing Yap, Canada / Honorable Mention: Chatter directed by Natasha Lewin, USA
  • Meghan Kaltenbach: BeBetter directed by Daniel van Westen, Germany Honorable Mention: Falafel Sundays directed by Fahim Arif, Pracheta Ahana, Bangladesh

This year’s in-kind sponsors include: Secret Stash; Janet Peterson, a local financial advisor; Mickey and former Mayor Fred Rast and Atlantic Cinemas; Monmouth University; and Red Hook Films.

FilmOneFest is a project of Atlantic Highlands Arts Council, a registered 501 (c) (3) organization whose mission is to strengthen community through the arts. For information, visit 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.

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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...