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12:30PM - 2:30PM

"I Can't... I Have Rehearsal"

Feature Documentary  |  Runtime: 59:57

Country of Origin: New Jersey, USA

Language: English

Synopsis: For a select few, the high school musical is sacred. Every year those students come together for the Tonys of New Jersey high school musical theatre: The Rising Star Awards. But first, they have to get their shows off the ground. This is the story of six very different high schools from across New Jersey as they rehearse, perform and compete with the very same supercalifragilistic show.

Director | Writer | Co-Producer: Maddie Orton

Maddie Orton is an Emmy-nominated journalist with an eye on the arts. Before working in television, Orton’s focus was arts advocacy—galvanizing grassroots support for arts funding and education. She took that interest to NJTV (the New Jersey PBS station,) and now to WLIW/Channel Thirteen. In her time with PBS, she’s interviewed luminaries in the arts like Stephen Colbert, Robert De Niro, Misty Copeland, and George Takei, and she’s covered everything from ukulele festivals and graffiti jams to exhibition openings and Broadway shows. She believes in the power of the arts to enact change and loves seeing how people use it. "I Can’t… I Have Rehearsal" is Orton’s first documentary.


Executive Producer: Phil Alongi (in attendance)

Phil Alongi is an award-winning journalist who oversees all news operations for NJTV as Executive Producer. Mr. Alongi is also the Director of Program Development and is responsible for program expansion in the areas of news, public affairs, arts and other genres. He began his broadcast career at NBC News in 1997. During his tenure at the network, he produced for Nightly News, the Today show, News at Sunrise and numerous national specials. He has covered six presidential election cycles, the Millennium/Y2K, the second Gulf War, the shooting at Columbine and dozens of other major news events.

An eighteen-time Emmy Award nominee, Mr. Alongi has recently been recognized with his induction into the NJBiz Forty Under 40 program, honoring professionals under the age of 40 making headlines in their field.  He serves on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences - New York. When he’s not being a news junkie, he moonlights as a professional operatic tenor and has six televised performances and dozens of leading roles throughout the U.S. to his credit.

Producer | Director of Photography: Frank Guastella (in attendance)

Frank Guastella is an award-winning videographer, music producer and sound engineer. His companies, ISH Productions and Creative World Media, have provided music and visuals for many artists such as CeeLo Green, Wu Tang Clan, John Amos, Talib Kweli, Styles P, KRS-One and others. His work has also been featured on a variety of networks, including HBO, the NFL, PBS, MTV, SiriusXM and The Today Show. 

When he is not working in the studio, Frank's creativity extends into the classroom as a teacher of biology at South Orange Middle School. 

"En Pointe"


Short Documentary  |  Runtime: 6:20

Country of Origin: New York, USA

Language: English

Synopsis: David Baxter is destroying stereotypes by showing that a 6' 3" 280 lb man can be a ballet dancer and burlesque superstar, spreading body positivity through his art.


Director | Producer: Matthew Kaplowitz (in attendance)

Matthew Kaplowitz is a filmmaker based in NYC. In addition to his film work, Matthew has been an Associate Producer and most recently a writer on MMA documentary & promotional programming on Spike TV since 2012, through various production companies. He is currently working on a new feature-length documentary that is scheduled to wrap towards the end of this year.




directed by Maddie Orton (NJ, USA)

Preceded by Short Films:

  • "En Pointe" directed by Matthew Kaplowitz (NY, USA)

  • "Speechless" directed by Eben Skilleter (United Kingdom)

  • "Opal" directed by Jack Cook (NJ, USA)

  • "Parallax Dreams" directed by John Tuohy (NJ, USA)

  • "Filling In" directed by Bradley Hawkins (PA, USA)


Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with attending Directors, Cast, & Crew from the films.

*All Gala tickets, Day, & Weekend passes include admission to the Opening Night After-Party. All festival tickets include free admission to the Sunday Awards Ceremony. Come join the fun!

**Planning on attending multiple film blocks? Save & buy a Saturday/Sunday All-Access Day-Pass! Available for Advanced Sale only, will NOT be sold at the door.

***For helpful information such as tickets, directions, parking, handicap access, and where to eat/stay, please visit our Attend page.




Short Narrative  |  Runtime: 5:39

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Language: English

Genre: Comedy

Synopsis: When Harry Reaf prepares for a keynote speech at his biggest gig to date, he promptly loses his voice...just as he’s about to deliver it. Panic ensues and Harry seems unable to conquer it. That is, until help arrives from an unexpected place...

Director: Eben Skilleter 

Eben Skilleter is a UK-based independent filmmaker. Born in London, he has directed five short films mainly specializing in dark comedy, and all of which have been accepted at film festivals (thirteen to date). He also has two feature screenplays currently in development.

Writer: John Suriano

John Suriano is a native New Yorker living in England and old enough to remember when the Pan Am building was the Pan Am building. John has written several screenplays and made numerous short films. He brought Speechless to the Short Film Corner at Cannes 2017, and after buying a tuxedo for the various red-carpet events he realized he already owned one.

Producer: Henriette-Mercedes

Henriette-Mercedes is an independent Film Producer. After completing her studies in Film & Television at the University of Amsterdam, she worked in the camera and electrical department for many years before switching to producing. The high-end short films she has produced have been selected for film festivals worldwide, including the London Short Film Festival, Toronto After Dark, Telluride Horror Show, Horror Film & Screenplay Festival (where her film won the Best Film award) and many more.





Short Narrative  |  Runtime: 5:25

Country of Origin: New Jersey, USA

Language: English

Genre: Romance 

Synopsis: A writer walks into a diner and sees a woman sitting across from him. He writes a hypothetical story about what their adventures would be like. All goes well until he runs into some unforeseen complications.

Director: Jack Cook

An Economics student at Rutgers University, Jack Cook is also a filmmaker, photographer, and aesthetic snob. This is his directing debut.

Writer: Daniel Reji

A recent graduate of Rutgers University, Daniel​​ Reji is an entrepreneur, designer, and writer. This is his debut work in film.

Producer: Kurt Devonshire

Kurt Devonshire is a recent graduate from Rutgers University, currently producing and directing his own independent films in the US and UK. An all-around talented chap.

"Parallax Dreams"

*Grand Prize Winner of Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Festival 2017, showcasing works from NJ student filmmakers in grades 6-12*

Short Narrative  |  Runtime: 6:00

Country of Origin: New Jersey, USA

Language: English

Genre: Experimental

Synopsis: A lost traveler's introspective journey through an unknown land.

Director | Writer: John Tuohy (in attendance)

John Tuohy, 16 years old, was born and raised in New Jersey and currently attends Red Bank Regional High School. He first began to take an interest in film at age 6, and from then he has become an avid cinephile and aspiring filmmaker. He is in the Interactive Media Program at his High School which is a mostly film intensive four year course. John is also a varsity athlete on the school track team, a member of student council, the soundboard technician for his school's plays, and videographer for local New Jersey bands. John's favorite directors are Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Jean-Luc Godard. John would like to become an independent filmmaker in the future, writing and directing his own films. 

"Filling In"


Short Narrative  |  Runtime: 22:00

Country of Origin: Pennsylvania, USA

Language: English

Genre: Comedy

Synopsis: A gentle giant of a man, down on his luck, considers a risky and covert career path. To help him learn the ropes, a grizzled vet in the field takes him under his wing.

Director | Writer: Bradley Hawkins (in attendance)

Bradley Hawkins is a retired high school film studies and humanities from Pennsylvania, and is now an award-winning film director best known for his comedy short ROLLER COASTER, winner of 28 film awards and now on Amazon Prime. Hawkins and his his daughter, Sarah Hawkins are the co-owners of Dadley Productions, which produced both ROLLER COASTER and FILLING IN, and the father/daughter duo are now in development on two feature films slated to go into production by 2019.


Producer: Sarah Hawkins

Sarah Hawkins is an emerging producer in Los Angeles and is best known for her activism for gender equality in Hollywood through her eight-part series, OR DIE TRYING, as well as being the co-owner of Dadley Productions, and the award-winning star of the comedy short, ROLLER COASTER.


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