PROJECT FX winners announced

RED BANK — The Count Basie Theatre has announced the winners of its PROJECT FX, a statewide student film festival.

“Regression,” a film from Old Bridge High School’s Nicholas Zolfo, took top prize in the high school category, while “Writer’s Block,” a film by Montclair State University’s Nick Capra, captured the top collegiate prize.

Each will be interns at Sony Pictures Classics in New York City and have their films screened at this summer’s Indie Street Film Festival, which will take place from July 6-10 at the Count Basie Theatre and other venues throughout Red Bank.

“This year’s lineup at PROJECT FX was incredibly strong, and these six aspiring filmmakers have great futures ahead of them,” said Tom Bernard, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics.

“This is exhilarating,” said Zolfo. “The reason why I do this is that I love getting an emotional reaction from people. We did this in six hours, and we were able to make a story people responded to.”

Runners-up in the high school category included the animated “Painted Cranes” by Middletown High School South student Sage Levine and the documentary “Victor Grasso” by Genna Contento, a student at Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts in Somers Point.

First runner-up in the college category was the documentary “Jimmy Scalia: An Honest Portrait” by Anthony Scalia of Ramapo College. The second runner-up was “Across Dystopia” by Rutgers University student Jeanpaul Isaacs.

In addition to a public vote on Facebook and votes tallied at the festival, films were reviewed by a panel, including Bernard, actor Timothy Hutton, screenwriter James Schamus, broadcast journalist Dan Rather, “Clerks” and “Mallrats” star Brian O’Halloran, United Talent Agency Independent Film Group head Rena Ronson, “Breaking Bad” cinematographer Peter Reniers, “True Detective” producer Carol Cuddy and more.

Count Basie Theatre President and CEO Adam Philipson said PROJECT FX will return in 2017, with more New Jersey students and films gaining recognition in the process.

“Seeing the number of submissions grow substantially in year two, matched with the outstanding quality of films, signifies the importance of this festival,” said Philipson. “We appreciate our sponsor, entrants and judges and look forward to next year’s PROJECT FX.”

Winners and runners-up in each category are available at