FilmOneFest: Great Stories in a Minute

July 18, 2014
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The audience for the FilmOne Fest in Atlantic Highlands gathers at the municipal marina to enjoy 1-minute films and videos. This year’s edition will be held Saturday, July 18.

The audience for the FilmOne Fest in Atlantic Highlands gathers at the municipal marina to enjoy 1-minute films and videos. This year’s edition will be held Saturday, July 19.

By Mary Ann Bourbeau

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – FilmOneFest gives new meaning to the term “short film.”

In fact, all of the films that will be shown at the annual event are less than 2 minutes long.

FilmOneFest, also known as the Atlantic Highlands One-Minute International Film Festival, captures creative movie-making in short snippets, but the results are no less impressive.

“Someone recently said to me that the festival is a much anticipated part of their summer experience and that they are proud that it takes place in their hometown of Atlantic Highlands,” said Robert O’Connor, founder and co-director of FilmOneFest. “That is what I had hoped for over six years ago when we first starting planning the festival.”

The free festival has become a popular summer event at the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor. Last year, 1,500 attendees enjoyed 65 short-short films on a giant outdoor screen under the stars.

“It means a great deal to me that we have not only survived six years, but the festival is thriving in ways I never imagined,” O’Connor said.
This year’s family-friendly films come from around the globe, including Iceland, Brazil, China, Ukraine and the Netherlands. Several entries are from Monmouth County, including four films made by Atlantic Highlands residents. Genres run the gamut and include comedy, narratives, horror and animation.

“Often, when I tell people it’s a 1-minute film festival, they’re intrigued by the idea that something so short can say something so complete,” O’Connor said. “For filmmakers, it’s a challenge to tell their story in 1 minute. The technology doesn’t require as many resources, so it’s easier and faster for them to create something experimental and fun.”

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O’Connor moved to the small Victorian town eight years ago after graduating from art school, and he opened The Painted Frame and the Second Story Art Gallery on First Avenue. Part of his work in school consisted of creating short, poetic videos that were intended to be shown in galleries. When he went to a 1-minute film festival run by one of his professors in upstate New York, he became interested. Then after joining the Atlantic Highlands Art Council, O’Connor thought about starting something similar in the borough.

“I thought the setup was good for a small, intimate, quirky film festival,” O’Connor said. “It’s a perfect fit for our community. It shows off a beautiful setting in a town that people are proud of.”

This year’s panel of judges includes movie producer and manager Carol Cuddy, television producer Jon Crowley, The Two River Times film critic Joan Ellis, film editor Susan Littenberg, sound editor Gedney Webb and film historian Victor Zak.

The day begins at 10 a.m. July 19 in Veterans Park, where the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society will hold its Arts and Crafts Festival, featuring more than 60 artists and crafters selling their works. There will be music, food and additional craft vendors along First Avenue, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce. At 7 p.m., the festivities move to the municipal harbor, where, in addition to artists and crafters, there will be clowns, face painters and a stilt walker.

Music will be provided by the Kul d’Sack band. In addition to food vendors selling Thai, Mexican and barbeque items, free popcorn and water will be provided by Sickles Market. The films will begin around 9 p.m.

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Admission and parking are free. Attendees are invited to bring blankets and chairs. A limited number of premium seats are available for purchase at The rain date is July 20. In case of rain or high winds on July 20, the festival will take place at Charles Hesse Parish Hall, 55 South Ave.

FilmOneFest supports the Atlantic Highlands Food Pantry, and encourages donations of nonperishable food and household items at the festival.

FilmOneFest is sponsored by the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council and is made possible in part by the Monmouth County Arts Council through funding from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the County Historical Commission, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Vibe writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at

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