Cranford Film Festival Celebrates Top Short Films of 2024

Filmmakers and film enthusiasts gathered for the 4th Annual Cranford Film Festival, where they honored and celebrated the best short films. Hosted by the Cranford Schools Friends of Performing Arts (Cranford FOPA), the festival showcased over 100 submissions from a diverse array of talent, spanning categories such as fiction, documentary, music videos, animation, student films, and even those captured solely on iPhones.

This year’s festival proved to be a great success, not only in terms of artistic merit but also in fundraising efforts. Thanks to generous contributions from ticket sales, donations, and sponsorships, the event surpassed last year’s fundraising efforts, with all funds earmarked to support Cranford FOPA’s initiatives.

Among the highlights of the festival were the prestigious awards bestowed upon outstanding filmmakers. In the animation category, Cranford’s own Genevieve Leonard claimed the top spot with her film “Don’t Let Kids Play with Slime,” a whimsical exploration of childhood curiosity.

Meanwhile, Andre Joseph from Bear, Delaware, secured the award for Best Music Video with “Sleep Until Noon,” a poignant portrayal of maternal longing and dreams for the future. Marco Rosario of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, emerged victorious in the iPhone category with “Have We Met?”, a thought-provoking meditation on serendipity and human connection.

In the student film category, Rafael De Moura of New York University impressed the judges with “Memories Withered,” a heartfelt depiction of love and loss in the face of dementia. Bryan Lawson from Kinnelon High School also received accolades for his work “Maybe I’m Driving Me Crazy,” a coming-of-age tale that struck a chord with audiences.


The documentary category saw Melea Burke from Polson, Montana, taking home the prize for “Uprooted,” a stirring account of one man’s journey of displacement as a child and his resilience following the Vietnam War.

In the fiction category, a three-way tie showcased the diverse storytelling talents of Brandon Bailey from Montclair, New Jersey, with “Cici’s Sonata,” a young pianist experiences psychosis on the night of a high-pressure audition; Bob Celli from New York City, New York, with “My Over There,” a fictional account of a WWI army nurse and a deeply personal part of her life during wartime; and Ryan Canney from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, with “Over the Hill,” an old truck pays an unexpected visit to a junkyard.

The Cougar Award Winners were “A Slice of the Wild,” by Philip Cooney, Chapman University (student category), the story of a raccoon that tries to steal a pizza and pays the price.  In the general short category, there was a tie for the 2024 Cougar Award with “Over the Hill,” and “Heart of Gold,” by Jack Foley, Morganville, New Jersey, the story of a family that moves to New Jersey and the daughter that has difficulty adapting to her new life.

Stephanie Levine and Annette Noll, Co-Presidents of Cranford FOPA, expressed their delight and gratitude at the festival’s success in spotlighting exceptional filmmaking talent while also raising vital funds for the performing arts in the community. “The Cranford Film Festival once again demonstrated the power of cinema to inspire, provoke, and unite audiences,” remarked Stephanie Levine.

In addition to honoring filmmakers, the festival also recognized the unwavering support of its sponsors. Their generous support has been instrumental in making this event a resounding success year after year.”

With another successful year in the books, the Cranford Film Festival continues to serve as a beacon for students, emerging and established filmmakers, and a celebration of the art of storytelling through cinema.

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