Columbia High School Filmmakers at the Garden State Film Festival

by The Village Green
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The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF), New Jersey’s premier independent film festival, celebrated 21 years this March 23 to 26, 2023. This year, the festival returned to an in-person-only event screening 235 films from 23 countries in nine venues plus parties, professional panels, events, special honors and more.  (

On Saturday morning, March, 25, 2023, the Columbia High School documentary, “The Healing: Arts in a Time of COVID-19” screened at the Cranford Theater ( in Cranford, New Jersey along with some other SOMA filmmakers’ films.

Those films included “A Holocaust Journey: Lessons We Learned” by Lisa Resnik & “Idea” by Michelle Tattenbaum.

In the category of “New Jersey Homegrown Documentary Short – High School”, Columbia High School film students Dylan Charles Meda and Stella Grace Williams took 1st Runner Up for their exploration of SOMA restaurants in their 3 minute film titled “The Culinary Arts of South Orange”.

Debbie Bearg (GSFF Volunteer and SOMA Resident), Seth Peris (CHS Alumni & “The Healing” participant), Michelle Tattenbaum (“Idea”), Tabitha Ginsberg (M. Tattenbaum’s daughter) Neil Ginsberg (Composer), James A Manno (SOMSD Arts Supervisor)

Film Summaries and Links

“The Healing: Arts in a Time of COVID-19”, created by Columbia High School students under the direction of Teaching Artist Sean McCourt and CHS Film Teacher Paul Marigliano, is a Home Grown Documentary Short that depicts Columbia High School students and teachers as they navigate the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic when the school musical was canceled. The film follows the students through two years of turmoil, isolation, and determination. Audiences experience the contrast of arts programs surviving versus arts programs thriving. (

“A Holocaust Journey: Lessons We Learned”, directed and co-produced by Lisa Resnik, is also a Home Grown Documentary Short that follows a group of students and their professors as they travel to Berlin and Poland with the aim of trying to comprehend the reality of the Holocaust. (

“Idea”, directed and co-produced by Michelle Tattenbaum, is a 39 minute Short Drama. The synopsis is: “When a harried teaching assistant holds a series of online meetings with his students about their personal essays, his attempts to help them find meaning in their life stories gradually forces him to question the meaning of his own. Based on the impossibility of making sense of what happens to us…and the necessity of trying to do it anyway.” (

“The Culinary Arts of South Orange”, directed by Dylan Charles Meda and Stella Grace Williams. What could be more New Jersey than these Italian restaurants in the South Orange area?



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