The 2017 Teaneck International Film Festival
Thursday November 2nd to Sunday November 5th, 2017
All About the Films
Note: Films are in English unless otherwise noted. Many films are unrated; parental caution is advised.
April in Blue
Short, Drama- 11 minutes
Directed by Christian Hogarth
Talkback with Christian Hogarth, director/writer; Joel Nagle, producer; moderated by David Bland
IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
An innocent game opens old wounds and sends a loving couple on a downward spiral.
Back to Natural
Documentary - 69 minutes
Directed by Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward
Talkback with Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward, director/writer/producer; moderated by Dr. Venessa Perry,Huffington Post contributor
Sponsored by Bergen County (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Inc.
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
The film that takes a shocking and emotional look at the intersection of hair, politics, and identity in Black communities. It is a powerful, thought provoking, call for healing that takes a grass roots approach to exploring the globalized policing of natural black hair. Filmed in New York City, Paris, And Cape Town, this documentary explores universal aspects of the Black experience and the "New" Natural Hair movement. Join us on this journey of discovery and enlightenment while celebrating our history and natural styles that are taking the world by storm.
BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez
Documentary, Biography - 90 minutes
Directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
Talkback with Sonia Sanchez, poet/playwright/activist moderated by Mikaela Angela Davis, CNN Contributor
Sponsored by Bergen County (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Inc.
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
For 81-year-old Sonia Sanchez, writing is both a personal and political act. She emerged as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, raising her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women's liberation, and peace as a poet, playwright, teacher, activist and early champion of the spoken word. She is among the earliest poets to have incorporated urban black English into her poetry; she was one of the first activists to secure the inclusion of African American studies in university curricula. Deemed "a lion in literature's forest" by poet Maya Angelou and winner of major literary awards including the American Book Award, Sonia Sanchez is best known for 17 books of poetry that explore a wide range of global and humanist themes, particularly the struggles and triumphs of women and people of color.
Birthright: A War Story
Documentary - 100 minutes
Directed by Civia Tamarkin
Talkback with Senator Loretta Weinberg; Civia Tamarkin, director/writer/producer; Luchina Fisher, writer
Sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg & The National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Examines how women are being jailed, physically violated and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. It tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts and religious doctrine to govern whether, when and how women will bear children. It explores the accelerating gains of the crusade to control pregnant women and the fallout that is creating a public health crisis, turning pregnant women into criminals and challenging the constitutional protections of every woman in America. This is the real-life “Handmaid’s Tale.”
Body & Soul: An American Bridge
Documentary - 58 minutes
Directed by Robert Philipson
Perfomance by Teaneck Community Chorus
Talkback with Robert Philipson, director/writer/producer; Loren Schoenberg,National Jazz Museum in Harlem; moderated by Calvin Hill, famed bass player
Sponsored by The Teaneck Community Chorus
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Out of all the cross-cultural encounters that have resulted in the richness of American popular music, none has been so prominent or so fraught with fraternity and conflict as the relationships between African Americans and American Jews. The film aims to tease out the strands of this cultural knot by focusing on the early performance history of the jazz standard, “Body and Soul,” one of the most recorded songs in the jazz repertoire. Composed by Jewish composer Johnny Green in 1929, the song was introduced on Broadway by Jewish torch singer Libby Holman and ushered into the jazz canon by Louis Armstrong the following year.
Breakfast at Ina's
Documentary, Biography - 51 minutes
Directed by Mercedes Kane
Q&A with Matt Okin and Huey Esquire of Black Box Studios and PAC
Sponsored by Black Box Studios and Performing Arts Center & Rotary Club of Teaneck
Official Site - IMDb - Trailer
Ina Pinkney is a Chicago legend of the tastiest kind. Known around town as the “Breakfast Queen”, she has been feeding Chicagoans for the past 33 years. Now facing the late stages of polio, Ina has decided to close the doors of her beloved breakfast nook. A self-made chef and businesswoman, Ina is so much more. She’s a community leader, a pioneer and an icon, but most importantly, she’s the rare sort of person who’s found a way to transform her passion into a joy that extends an entire city, and beyond. The documentary gives audiences a glimpse into Ina’s extraordinary life, all while chronicling the last days of the restaurant as she and her staff serve up its final meals.
Daughters of the Dust (1991)
Drama, History, Romance - 112 minutes
Directed by Julie Dash
Talkback with Actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce; Michelle Materre, Professor, New School; Kathryn Bowser; Kay Shaw; moderated by Sandi Klein
Sponsored by The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Bergen/Passaic Chapter
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
At the dawn of the 20th century, a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina – former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions – struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots. Cohen Media Group is proud to present the 25th anniversary restoration of director Julie Dash’s landmark film.
Dear Zindagi
Drama, Romance - India - 151 minutes
Directed by Gauri Shinde - Hindi with English subtitles
Sponsored by NPZ Law Group, Global Immigration Attorneys
IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Kaira is a budding cinematographer in search of a perfect life. Her encounter with Jug, an unconventional thinker, helps her gain a new perspective on life. She discovers that happiness is all about finding comfort in life's imperfections.
Divine Order
Drama - Switzerland - 96 minutes
Directed by Petra Volpe - German, English, Italian, and Swiss German with English subtitles
Sponsored by Adeline Wijnen
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Switzerland, 1971: Nora is a young housewife and mother who lives with her husband and their two sons in a peaceful little village. Here, in the Swiss countryside, little or nothing is felt of the huge social upheavals that the movement of May 1968 has caused. Nora's life, too, has been unaffected; she is a retiring, quiet person, well liked by everyone - until she begins to campaign publicly and pugnaciously for women's right to vote, an issue that will be put before the male voters on February 7th, 1971.
Documentary, Biography, History - 95 minutes
Centerpiece - hors d’oeuvres, drinks, desserts
Directed by Peter Bratt
Talkback with Juanita Chavez, Dolores's daughter; moderated by Sandi Klein
Sponsored by Wise Older Women, YWCA of Bergen County, Deborah Witcher Jackson, Teaneck Women Together, the Vine
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change.
Fanny's Journey
Drama - France/Belgium - 94 minutes
Directed by Lola Doillon - French with English subtitles
Q&A with Dr. Eric Goldman
Sponsored by The Jewish Standard
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Based on a true story, this is an incredible tale of bravery, strength and survival, a story of a daring young girl who will stop at nothing and fear no one. In 1943, 13-year old Fanny and her younger sisters were sent from their home in France to an Italian foster home for Jewish children. When the Nazis arrive in Italy, their caretakers desperately organize the departure of the children to Switzerland. When they are suddenly left on their own, these 11 children do the impossible and reach the Swiss border to freedom.
Five-Finger Discount
Documentary - 55 minutes
Directed by Steven Fischler
Talkback with Steven Fischler, director/producer; moderated by David Cruz,NJTV
Sponsored by NJTV
Official Site - Trailer
Based on Helene Stapinski’s blockbuster memoir, the film relates Helene’s saga of growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey, in a family nearly overrun with crooks, corrupt politicians, mobster wannabes and murderers. It takes the viewer inside Helene’s struggle to confront her family legacy and invent a new identity – without losing where she comes from and the people she loves. The documentary also brings to life 20th century Jersey City, the poster child for the era’s urban political corruption. Frank “I Am The Law” Hague is a key character, and the film shows how his iron rule during his 30-year reign as mayor turned Jersey City into a closed system where power, money and corruption at the top trickled down to street life at the bottom, affecting the everyday lives of working class families struggling to survive.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Documentary - 98 minutes
Directed by Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk
Talkback with Amanda Nesheiwat, Secaucus Environmental coordinator and Harriet Shugarman, the executive director of Climate Mama and the Climate Reality Project 2017 "Green Ring Award" Recipient (given by Al Gore) and who is  profiled in Gore's new book; moderated by Alexa Marques, Executive Director of Teaneck Creek Conservancy
Sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes – in moments both private and public, funny and poignant – as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
Keep Quiet
Documentary - Hungary - 90 minutes
Directed by Sam Blair and Joe Martin - English, Hungarian, German with English subtitles
Sponsored by Rotary Club of Teaneck
Official Site - IMDb - Trailer
Csanad Szegedi's story is remarkable; as vice-president of Jobbik, Hungary's far-right extremist party, Szegedi regularly espoused anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denials. He was a founder of the Hungarian Guard, a now-banned militia inspired by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party complicit in the murder of thousands of Jews during WWII. Then came a revelation which transformed his life: Szegedi's maternal grandparents were revealed to be Jewish and his beloved grandmother an Auschwitz survivor who had hidden her faith fearing further persecution. Keep Quiet depicts Szegedi's three year journey as he is guided by Rabbi Boruch Oberlander to embrace his newfound religion, forced to confront the painful truths of his family's past, his own wrong doing and the turbulent history of his country. But is this astonishing transformation a process of genuine reparation and spiritual awakening, or is he simply a desperate man with nowhere else to turn?
Kid Flix Mix 2017
Live action & animated short films - 60 minutes
The Best of the New York International Children's Film Festival
Hosted by Bob McGrath of Sesame Street
Sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd. & YWCA of Bergen County
For Children 4-8

Thanks to a grant from the Puffin Foundation, children will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Once again, TIFF presents the acclaimed New York International Children's Film Festival assortment of its best animated and live action films from around the world. Bob McGrath, of Teaneck and Sesame Street, will introduce the program, which features musical and narrative works from around the world. The collection is guaranteed to delight our youngest filmgoers.
The Last Blintz
Documentary - 25 minutes
Directed by Dori Berinstein
Talkback with Dori Berinstein, director/writer/producer; moderated by Matt Okin and Huey Esquire of Black Box Studios and PAC
Sponsored by Black Box Studios and Performing Arts Center
Official Site - IMDb - Trailer
The closing of the The Cafe Edison (aka The Polish Tea Room) is not just a story about another famous show business haunt shutting its doors - which it is, big time - it is an American Dream-come-true story about a multi-generational, big-hearted, mom-and-pop family business that is tragically and pre-maturely coming to an end. It's also about gentrification on steroids and all-consuming greed. It's about the heart, soul, authenticity and distinctiveness of cities globally being flagrantly ripped away for yet another impersonal, cookie-cutter, corporate chain. It's too late for The Cafe Edison... but, looking to the future, The Last Blintz is an impassioned plea for 'progress' that honors the past, protects and future and preserves the heart and culture of our great cities...before there's nothing left.
My Life as a Zucchini
Animation, Comedy, Drama - Switzerland/France - 67 minutes - PG-13
Directed by Claude Barras
Sponsored by YWCA of Bergen County
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
After his mother's sudden death, Zucchini is befriended by a police officer who takes him to a group home where he has a hard time, but eventually finds his way -  learning to trust and love. This stop-motion film has earned rave reviews all over the world, and was nominated for an Academy Award. The subjects it deals with - death, loneliness, bullying - are difficult, but the story is heartwarming and, as one critic put it, "stands as a testament to the resilience of the human heart." This is a film for the whole family!
Comedy, Drama - India - 106 minutes
Directed by Amit Masurkar - Hindi with English subtitles
Sponsored by League of Women Voters of Teaneck, NJ in cooperation with Barbara Ostroth, Coldwell Banker RE & Shirley Sosland, Russo Real Estate
IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
As India, the world's largest democracy, braces itself for another general election- with 9 million polling booths, more than 800 million voters, and costing nearly $5 billion -Newton Kumar, a rookie government clerk finds himself entrusted with a task that appears deceptively simple: conducting elections in a remote village in the jungles of central India. The bushes teem with Communist guerrillas, who have been waging a decades old war against the state, even as the indigenous tribals live without any access to mainland amenities. Conducting 'free and fair' elections in a minefield like this is no child's play, as Newton learns over the course of this eventful day. Unfazed with the cynicism and danger all around him, Newton is determined to do his duty.
Documentary - 104 minutes
Directed by Jonathan Olshefski
Talkback moderated by David Bland
Sponsored by The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook
Filmed with vérité intimacy for over a decade, it is a moving portrait of a family in North Philadelphia. Christopher “Quest” Rainey, along with his wife Christine’a, aka “Ma Quest,” open the door to their home music studio, which serves as a creative sanctuary from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Over the years, the family evolves as everyday life brings a mix of joy and unexpected crisis. Set against the backdrop of a country now in turmoil, it is a tender depiction of an American family whose journey is a profound testament to love, healing and hope.
Restless Creature
Documentary - 90 minutes
Directed by Linda Saffire & Adam Schlesinger
Talkback with Wendy Whelan, principal dancer, New York City Ballet; Holly Hynes, ballet costume designer; moderated by Sandi Klein
Sponsored by Sandi Klein's Conversations with Creative Women
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Offers an intimate portrait of prima ballerina Wendy Whelan as she prepares to leave New York City Ballet after a record-setting three decades with the company. Not just a fascinating portrait of an artist grappling with change but also a delight to watch.
Strange Fruit (2002)
Documentary - 57 minutes
Directed by Joel Katz
Talkback with Joel Katz, director/writer/producer; moderated by Calvin Hill, famed bass player
Sponsored by The Teaneck Community Chorus
In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the words: "Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root." He set the poem to music and a few years later convinced Billie Holiday to record it in a legendary heartbreaking performance. Intertwining jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching, director Joel Katz fashions a fascinating discovery of the lost story behind a true American classic.
Swim Team
Documentary, Drama, Family - 90 minutes
Directed by Lara Stolman
Perfomance by TJ & BF Middle School bands
Talkback with Coach Mike & son Mikey; Dr. David Levesque, has Tourette Syndrome; Mike Hayden, NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome; moderated by Pat Philips
Sponsored by The Teaneck Public Schools & The Township of Teaneck
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
What would you do if your community gave up on your child? In New Jersey, the parents of a boy on the autism spectrum take matters into their own hands. They form a competitive swim team, recruiting diverse teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence and a life that feels winning.
This Beautiful Fantastic
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy - 92 minutes
Directed by Simon Aboud
Sponsored by Five Star Premier Residences of Teaneck
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
A contemporary fairy tale revolving around the unlikely friendship between a reclusive young woman with dreams of being a children’s book author and a cantankerous widower, set against the backdrop of a beautiful garden in the heart of London. Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) is a beautifully quirky young woman who dreams of writing and illustrating a successful children’s book. When she is forced by her landlord to deal with her neglected garden or face eviction, she meets her nemesis, match and mentor in Alfie Stephenson (Tom Wilkinson), a grumpy, loveless, rich old man who lives next door and happens to be an amazing horticulturalist.
Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Documentary - 90 minutes
Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot
Q&A with Jeremy Lentz
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
Examines the life and work of one of the world's most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Jennifer Kroot's documentary about the creator of Tales of the City moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan) Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70's San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war.
The Women's Balcony
Comedy, Drama - Israel - 96 minutes
Directed by Emil Ben-Shimon - Hebrew with English subtitles
Q&A with Moshe Kinderlehrer, Jewish Link
Sponsored by The Jewish Link of New Jersey
Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer
An accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem, in this rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power. When the women’s balcony in an Orthodox synagogue collapses, leaving the rabbi’s wife in a coma and the rabbi in shock, the congregation falls into crisis. Charismatic young Rabbi David appears to be a savior after the accident, but slowly starts pushing his fundamentalist ways and tries to take control. This tests the women’s friendships and creates an almost Lysistrata-type rift between the community’s women and men.