Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival Announces 2023 Winners - Plus Photos

In April 2023 the 12th annual Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival was its most successful event ever, with films screened at BowTie Warner Cinemas and the Ridgewood Public Library over four nights. By virtually every measure – number of attendees, quality of the 55 films screened, sponsorships, feedback from filmmakers and attendees – the festival this year was a resounding success.

Attendance was spurred to new heights by the premiere of Trinity’s Triumph, a feature-length fictional film co-written by Father Stephen Fichter, a Catholic priest who has worked with several congregations in Bergen County. His congregants were eager to see the long-awaited premiere and were not disappointed in the film which tackled real-world issues in the priesthood today. The film stars Joe Morton (The Brother from Another Planet; Scandal) who attended the film festival and it's activities.

Speaking of awards, the festival awarded a record 9 trophies thanks to a dedicated sponsorship by TEEEM, a local non-profit organization that teaches students about global issues and humanitarianism through empathy and entrepreneurship, fulfilling its mission by connecting New Jersey high school students with various humanitarian organizations around the world. 

TEEEM was particularly excited to fund two $500 scholarships to students who were judged to have directed the best films by a high school student and an undergraduate college student. The high school student scholarship was awarded to Mark Leschinsky, 17, of Mahwah, NJ for Fitting In, his short film which draws a parallel between fitting into shoes and fitting into society. 

The undergraduate scholarship was awarded to Ellie Pink of Boston University for her film Miss Fortune, about a young queer girl who is entered into an eerie beauty pageant of unknown stakes that ultimately turns against her. Ellie and her producer were unable to attend the festival but her parents attended in her place and were thrilled that she won.

The full list of award winners is listed below:


Banded Together: The Boys from Glen Rock High

Directed by Barry Rubinow


Bendix: Site Unseen

Directed by Anthony Scalia


My Dear Aunt Sally

Directed by Tom Procida


Fitting In

Directed by Mark Leschinsky


Miss Fortune

Directed by Ellie Pink


The Hunt

Directed by Yann Reuzeau (France)


The Sprayer

Directed by Farnoosh Abedi (Iran)


Brody Stowers

My Dear Aunt Sally


Tara Mershon

A Calling Home

Of note, this was the first time the film festival gave awards for acting - as a result of particularly strong acting performances and the sponsorship of TEEEM. Tara Mershon gave a powerhouse performance in A Calling Home as a young woman haunted by an abusive marriage. The actress seemed shocked when the award was announced at the After Party.

Brody Stowers, who was 8 years old when he filmed My Dear Aunt Sally, was awarded the trophy for an assured, mature performance as a sheltered, anxious child who comes out of his shell thanks to encouragement from his free-spirited aunt. The director of the film, Tom Procida, was on hand to accept the award on Brody’s behalf and also won his own trophy for Best Short.

Sponsors also included Super Cellars, Coldwell Banker Realty, Columbia Bank, Park West Tavern, Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union, and the YMCA of Ridgewood. The festival could not have taken place without the support of these sponsors, many of them long-time partners of the film festival and the Ridgewood Guild’s other events including Movies in the Park, offered in the summer free of charge.

PHOTO Gallery

For More Info

The annual film festival could not operate without the year-round dedication of its film committee members, as well as the volunteers who assist during the festival every April.

For more information, including a Complete Photo Gallery, please visit the film festival’s website and its YouTube channel where you can watch interviews with actors and directors and also seminars on ‘Music in Film’ and ‘The Business of Showbiz’, plus filmed seminars and panels from prior years. 

For Info on the 2023 Festival or plans for 2024 contact Ridgewood Guild Executive Director Tony Damiano (; (201) 602-2279) or Film Committee Co-Chair Jim Suozzo (; (917) 566-7473).