As we all wait patiently to catch the much-anticipated release of The Many Saints of Newark, there are a handful of other New Jersey spotlighted stories that deserve your attention.

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We are still a week away from The Sopranos prequel.  Set for its debut on October 1, in theaters and a limited showing on the streaming service, HBO Max.  (Much to David Chase’s dismay)

Plenty of time to pop some popcorn and settle into your favorite spot in front of your television to push play on a full schedule of binge-watching.

These 5 documentaries open your eyes to what you previously did not know about the Garden State.  From how it was New Jersey that impacted movie-making in the United States, an Emmy nominated depiction of post-Hurricane Sandy stories, to one of the most dangerous amusement parks, the transformation to New Jersey’s music town, and finally the real New Jersey Soprano’s, the tail of the DeCavalcante family. Scroll down to watch the videos described here.

Let’s start with "The Champion".  The story is about how Fort Lee New Jersey played an early role in movie making.

The Champion

We all look to Hollywood California as the hub of the movie industry.  Perhaps, but in 1915 Universal Studios set up shop in Fort Lee, taking advantage of its landscape, specifically the cliffs in Palisades as the perfect backdrop for war and western pictures.

As you will see in the documentary, the Garden State influenced the movie industry.  The film pays close attention to Fort Lee’s first studio Champion Studio.

Second on this list is a film that chronicles the aftermath of Jersey Shore, post-Hurricane Sandy.  “Splinters and Sand” was nominated for a New York Emmy.

Splinters & Sand: Rebuilding our Memories. Rebuilding the Jersey Shore

The documentary released in 2013, tells the heartbreaking stories of the destruction the superstorm left behind and the struggles of the rebuilding process.

Next, you probably heard remarkable stories about one of the most dangerous water parks.  Action Park in Vernon Valley New Jersey was so threatening, it was nicknamed “Traction Park”.

Class Action Park

The film “Class Action Park” tells those stories and more.

Truth be told, my first and only bungee jumping experienced took place at Action Park.  And I also survived the “loop” water slide.  In fact, it was shut down the same day I attended the park.

Asbury Park has gone through its ups and downs over the years.  It came back from being a broken city divided and weakened by race inequality and segregation, an Independence Day riot, to a vibrant community of inclusion.  All along demonstrating its love of the arts and most importantly music.

Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock & Roll

Watch as “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock & Roll” sheds light on an ugly time while also celebrating Asbury’s culture.

And finally, “The Real Sopranos”.

The Real Sopranos

This documentary looks at the real crime family of New Jersey that some say was the inspiration for the HBO series.  The film points out the many similarities between fact and fiction.  Even down to the pork store.

I know many Soprano fans are binge-watching every season to get ready for The Many Saints of Newark.  This documentary should also be on that list.

Just remember, Many Saints is a prequel to The Sopranos.  Real high expectations could be disappointing.  Capisce?

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