If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that attending film festivals is a regular pastime of mine; so its always great when I stumble upon festivals which I’m not privy to.  With that in mind, I was recently afforded the opportunity to speak with Michele Sorvino, executive director of the festival known as the Golden Door International Film Festival.  Founded by actor Bill Sorvino, the festival-thanks to its focus on supporting filmmakers (unknown or otherwise) and Autism Awareness-is quickly becoming not only a cultural focal point of Jersey City but also one of the premiere festivals in the country.

Seeing that much of the Sorvino acting clan (Paul and Mira Sorvino are on the board) in addition to Michele and Bill run the festival, I asked her about how its she manages to be in a work environment with family members.  In addition, I also asked about she chooses the films that are selected as well what attendees can expect in the upcoming year.  You can check it out below…

BT: To start Michele, with the festival being in nearly every sense of the word, “a family affair,” is it easier or trickier to have the family dynamic in your work environment?  Particularly with your husband, Bill [Sorvino], who is the founder? 

bill & michele sorvino
Bill & Michele Sorvino



MS: You know, you sometimes see turmoil in work environments where you have family members are working with one another; however, with us its quite the opposite, Bill is very supportive. In fact, he was the one who pulled me aside a few years ago and said, “Listen, if anyone is going to be able to take this festival to the next level, it’s going to be you.”  So with drive and determination, I took on the role with his support and the support of the [Sorvino] family.  With all that said, everyone really respects each other and each other’s work, so it’s been a really nurturing environment in my journey to make the festival the best it can be.

BT: Ok, gotcha. To jump off of that, would you say that you and Bill have a policy in which “work talk” about the festival is off limits (i.e. not talking about the festival at home, not talking about the festival after a certain time in the day, etc.)?

MS: Wow! I wish it was like that, but it actually isn’t! (Smiling)  The festival is my baby, so I “live it and breath it” all the time! I’m always looking for supporters, filmmakers, and actors/actresses to let them know about the event. So, seeing that I sleep next to Billy, I oftentimes literally turn to him and say things like, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if we did this [insert idea] with the festival?!”  Therefore I would say that we (Billy and I) really don’t have an off/on switch so to speak, we talk about it all the time.  Overall, my feeling is that when you love what you’re doing, there is never a moment when you don’t feel like talking about it (the festival).   

BT: I see, I see…So, switching gears, with film festivals, there are always moments in the film selection process in which one film is selected over another to be apart of the festival.  In such instances, what would you say are the distinct intangibles that allows one film to be selected over another?

MS: Well, its interesting…we have MANY people (including myself) who watch every film and afterwards we rate them.  During that rating process, we may have someone who rates a potential selection as a “6,” while another rates the same film as a “10.” So in such a case, the film will average out with a rating of “8,” and we (those watching the films) go on from there…

BT: Gotcha, gotcha…

MS: So far, there has not been a moment when someone has said, “This [film], should NOT be in the festival, or this [film] HAS to be in the festival!” Thank god! (Smiling)

BT: Alright, alright…Now, as the upcoming Golden Door International Film Festival approaches, are there any announcements that you are able to reveal now or is it too early?

MS: Well….We still haven’t made official announcements, since [film] submissions are still going on.  What I can say is, that I do have a few “babies” put aside that I believe are great films!

BT: Awesome! (Smiling) Well Michele, thank you for time and congrats with your success with the Golden Door International Film Festival.

MS: Thank you so much!


Interview by Brandon Troy


For more info about the Golden Door International Film Festival, click here.


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