Asbury Park welcomes Chillfest – the LGBT film festival

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M J Rodriguez of Rent

The Jersey City LGBT Film Festival “Chillfest” expands to the shore area in Asbury Park this Friday, June 21 at the Showroom on Cookman Ave. with incredible films appearing biweekly all summer long. Some shows will be sold out early they say. The couple behind the move to the Monmouth County community say it was certainly meant to happen.

After a recent visit to Asbury Park last year, the Jersey City power couple behind Chillfest Charles Ignacio and John Catania noticed the old Showroom theatre. It caught their eye as they had even entertained a similar small screen venue idea themseleves that was not pursued. 

This past winter they read about the new facility on the internet – really – just by chance – when they literally googled “The Showroom Asbury Park” and a New York Times article came up that was one week old,” says Ignacio. It was all about the new expanded film venue in Asbury Park across the street from the old theatre space. They immediately contacted the Showroom owners, Nancy and Mike and scheduled a visit this past January during a snowstorm at the Jersey Shore town. 

Once they saw the Showroom’s new screening space they jumped at the opportunity for a summer Chillfest series. “The timingI Am Divine movie cover of the Showroom expansion move was the key,” says Catania.

Ignacio says they wanted a summer screening series out of their comfort zone and says the Jersey City venue was no longer available. The Showroom, in Asbury Park, has several smaller theatres that are very comfortable and with all the amenities of the larger movie theatres. The Showroom owners, Nancy and Mike, really love cinema and the space is just perfect for Chillfest says Ignacio. Tickets are already going fast for Chillfest and they suggest you purchase yours soon.

In an upcoming article in Out In Jersey magazine Charles and John will talk in depth about the beginnings of Chillfest, Jersey City, and their roots in film and TV at the grounbreaking LGBT show “In The Life,” but today, they wanted to talk about the upcoming movies at Chillfest summer series….

The festival opens with “I am Devine” with John Waters a well-known and sought after film detailing the outrageous life and career of Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as director John Waters’ fearless muse, Divine.

The comedy “Petunia” about the wildly dysfunctional Petunia family starring Thora Birch (“American Beauty”), Brittany Snow (“Hairspray”) and Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”);

At the end of the season is The New Jersey premier of the Sundance selection “Pit Stop” that tells the parallel stories of two gay men in a small Texas town. It is a serious drama at the end of the season about two lonely guys that find each other in rural Texas. It is a really special they say.

Another premier is the hilarious road movie “Cloudburst” starring Academy Award winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as long-time lovers on the lam.

On its 30th anniversary and in honor of the late Nora Ephron’s body of work, Chillfest is screening “Silkwood” (1983). Based on Ephron’s Academy Award-nominated script, “Silkwood” stars Meryl Streep as labor union activist Karen Silkwood and Cher as her lesbian friend, Dolly Pelliker. Cher won a Golden Globe Award for her performance.

And in honor of its 20th anniversary as well as its Academy Award-winning director, Ang Lee (for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi”), Chillfest will screen “The Wedding Banquet” (1993) about a gay New Yorker who stages a marriage of convenience to satisfy his traditional Taiwanese family.

Other films being presented by Chillfest at The ShowRoom this summer include “Wonder Boys” (2000) based on the novel of the same title by Michael Chabon and starring Michael Douglas as creative writing professor Grady Tripp, Tobey Maguire as his gifted yet troubled student, and Robert Downey, Jr. in a brilliant turn as a rambunctious gay book editor desperately in need of a new best-seller. All three stars give one of their best and surprising performances in this wondrous comedy.

Also screening is the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama from last year, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky and starring Logan Lerman as Charlie, a socially awkward high school transfer student, and Emma Watson (“Harry Potter” films) and Ezra Miller as his newfound friends and cohorts. Miller gives a spirited and strong performance as an exuberantly gay high school senior.

Check out the full schedule and get your tickets and information early at www.chillfest.org. .

The Jersey City LGBT Film Festival “Chillfest” expands to the shore area in Asbury Park this Friday, June 21 at the Showroom on Cookman Ave. with incredible films appearing biweekly all summer long. Some shows will be sold out early they say. The couple behind the move to the Monmouth County community say it was certainly meant to happen.