2016 Teaneck International Film Festival Film Roster

Abattoir

HORROR - 98 minutes

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Description: A real estate reporter named Julia Talben unearths an urban legend about a house being built from rooms where horrific tragedies have occurred. The investigation ultimately leads Talben and a detective to the enigmatic Jebediah Crone and the answer to the question: How do you construct a haunted house?

Talkforward: Michael Yedwab; moderated by Marie Aronsohn 

Links: IMDb - Facebook

Sponsored by Black Box Studios & Black Box PAC


After Spring

Documentary - 101 minutes

Directed by Steph Chiing/Ellen Martinez

Description: With the Syrian conflict entering its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

Talkback: Directors Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez; Cinematographer Jason Graham Howell; moderated by David Bland

Links: OfficialSite - IMDb - Trailer


American Reds

Documentary - 85 minutes

Directed by Richard Wormser

Description: With the Syrian conflict entering its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

Talkback: Director Richard Wormser; Producer Bill Jersey; moderated by Ellen Rand

Links: OfficialSite - IMDb

Sponsored by Adeline Wijnen & The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.


Bajrangi Bhaijaan

India - comedy/drama - 163 minutes

Directed by Kabir Khan

Description: A man with a magnanimous spirit tries to take a young mute Pakistani girl back to her homeland to reunite her with her family. The film pulsates with heart and has a story to tell. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry.

Talkforward

Links: OfficialSite - IMDb

Sponsored by NPZ Law Group, Global Immigration Attorneys


The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

documentary - 100 minutes

Directed by Greg Palast and David Ambrose

Description: Follow gonzo investigate reporter Greg Palast (BBC, Rolling Stone) as he busts the new Ku Klux Klan - the billionaire bandits that are behind a scheme to purge one million voters of color in November. With the help of Willie Nelson, Rosario Dawson, and detectives Ice-T and Richard Belzer, Palast tracks down the secret billionaires behind Donald Trump!

Talkback with Greg Palast (Director), Sameera Khan (Muslim rights activist), Miss New Jersey USA | Moderated by Marie Aronsohn

Links: IMDb

Sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd


Carvalho’s Journey

documentary/Biography/history - 85 minutes

Directed by Steve Rivo

Description: A real life 19th century American western adventure story, Carvalho’s Journey traces the extraordinary saga of Solomon Nunez Carvalho 1815-1897 , an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking photographer, artist, and pioneer in American history. The film features interviews with scholars and writers, rare archival materials, original landscape cinematography and re-creations of the daguerreotype process. Film provided by The National Center for Jewish Film

Talkback with Steve Rivo (Director), David Oestricher (Lenapes expert), Arlene Hirschfelder (author and historian), Rabbi Steven Sirbu (Temple Emeth) 

Links: OfficialSite - IMDb - Facebook


Dukale’s Dream

documentary - 70 minutes

Directed by Josh Victor Rothstein

Description: Hugh Jackman  X-MEN's "Wolverine"  flies to Ethiopia as part of World Vision's initiative to bring attention to their success in raising people out of poverty. Hugh spends an entire day in the fields with coffee grower Dukale who is working hard to lift his family out of poverty. He learns first-hand about the value of fair trade coffee. Inspired by Dukale, Hugh launches Laughing Man Coffee, trading directly with the growers and donating 100% of the profit to support community development programs and social entrepreneurs around the world.

Talkback with Josh Victor Rothstein (Director) | Moderated by Regina Melnyk (Teaneck High School Fair Trade Adviser)

Links: OfficialSite - IMDb - Facebook

Sponsored by Teaneck Fair Trade & Teaneck High School Fair Trade Student Committee


The Innocents 

poland/france - drama - 115 minutes

Directed by Anne Fontaine

Description: In 1945 Poland, a young French Red Cross doctor who is sent to assist the survivors of the German camps discovers several nuns in advanced states of pregnancy during a visit to a nearby convent.

Talkback with Sister Camille D'Arienzo, Angela Bonavoglia (author and journalist) | Moderated by Sandi Klein (Conversations with Creative Women)

Links: IMDb - Facebook 

Sponsored by Sandi Klein's Conversations with Creative Women


DKid Flix Mix 2016

live action/animated short film - 60 minutes

Hosted by Bob McGrath (Sesame Street)

Description: 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.

Sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd and YWCA Bergen Country 


Last Cab to Darwin

comedy/drama/romance - 123 minutes

Directed by Jeremy Sims

Description: Rex is a loner, and when he's told he doesn't have long to live, he embarks on an epic drive through the Australian outback from Broken Hill to Darwin to die on his own terms. His journey reveals to him that before you can end your life, you have to live it, and to live it, you've got to share it.

Talkback with Dr. Richard Bosenbluth (Holy Name Medical Center - palliative care specialist) | Moderated by Ellen Rand (author and TIFF co-founder)

Links: IMDb


The Last Laugh

documentary - 88 minutes

Directed by Ferne Pearlstein

Description: Feature documentary about humor and the Holocaust, examining whether it is ever acceptable to use humor in connection with a tragedy of that scale, and the implications for other seemingly off-limits topics in a society that prizes free speech. Features Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried.

Talkback with Ferne Pearlstein (Director), Alan Zweibel (author, playwright, screenwriter, producer, director, actor, comedian, writer for Saturday Night Live)  | Moderated by Sandi Klein (Conversations with Creative Women)

Links: IMDb - Facebook

Sponsored by Rotary Club of Teaneck


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!


Newton

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.


Quest

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 
IMDb
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.