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1971 Grad Wins Screenplay Award at Hoboken Film Festival

This story was written by Nancy Kriz and first appeared on the Warwick Advertiser website on May 31

GREENWOOD LAKE — A Greenwood Lake man’s screenplay that he co-authored won “best unproduced screenplay” honors at the 13th annual Hoboken International Film Festival, which now opens the door to industry connections he’s been hopeful to have for decades.

The festival is dedicated to showcasing and promoting non-studio films, television pilots and screenplays from filmmakers throughout the United States and internationally.

The best submissions are rewarded with cash prizes in different categories. FOX, Time Warner and other major media have called the Hoboken festival one of the Top 10 film festivals worldwide

John Bernieri’s “Rose’s House,” co-written with Keith Parfitt, is a 60-minute unproduced television pilot picked by jury of celebrities, industry leaders and key festival personnel as that category’s winner.

SUNY Orange graduate

The screenplay “focuses on a handsome young stockbroker who is paroled from Rikers Island after doing 18 months for stock fraud on the condition that he manage and maintain his dear, departed Aunt Rose's seven-family apartment house in Queens. Little does he know all residents of the house are ‘special’ or that a Russian mogul intends to level the place.”

Bernieri was exuberant over his win.

“I was jumping over people, it was really crazy, I was just so excited,” he said. “I had no intention of winning. It was just great.”

Bernieri, an actor, was raised in the Town of Blooming Grove. He is a graduate of SUNY Orange where he was involved in many stage productions.

Since then, Bernieri has performed in many off-Broadway productions and starred in dinner theater, television and film productions as well.

After living in Dallas for many years, he returned to New York where he gave up show business to raise a family.

But last year, Bernieri resurrected his career by landing leading roles in several independent films. He’s done dozens of voice overs for Radio Station WALL while concurrently writing two screenplays and "Rose's House.”

“I had written the screenplay awhile ago, and just this year, I rewrote it with a buddy in the city,” he said. “Just when we finished polishing it up, they were accepting entries so I threw it in there. I had worked with some people at Hoboken Film Festival before. I did a couple of films with the people who ran the festival so they knew me. It was great to be with my peers.”

'It means my script will be read'

Nominees gathered on May 24 for the Gala Awards Ceremony, hosted by actor Gilbert Gottfried, to learn who won.

“It was mind-blowing,” Bernieri said. “You pretend it doesn’t matter if you win or not, but, yes, it does matter. That whole five minutes, from the time they said my name to the time I walked back to my seat, I don’t remember anything. My wife said I danced all the way up there and all the way back.”

What does this mean now for Bernieri?

“It means my script will be read,” he said. “You can’t ask for more than that. In fact, it is being read now. I can’t say by whom, but it is a big deal. These are connections I had before this, and they weren’t going anywhere. But all of a sudden, now, it’s going. Production companies, that’s where my focus is in. Everything else I do now will get closer look because of this award.”

Some advice

And he has some advice for aspiring screenplay writers with manuscripts sitting on desks:

“Look at me, I should have given up a million years ago, but I couldn’t,” he said. “Never, give up, ever.”

- Nancy Kriz

Mike Albright