2008 TIFF Roster

2008 Teaneck International Film Festival Film Roster

Before They Die


Directed by Reginald Turner

Description: Before there was 9/11, before there was Oklahoma City, before there was the internment of the Japanese Americans during World Word II, before there was Rosewood (Florida), there was the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. This documentary, produced in conjunction with Tulsa Virtual Media Partners, LLC, tells the story of the survivors of the 1921 Tusla Race Riot in their quest for justice. It follows the survivors and their legal team, headed by Professor Charles Ogletree, through the court system all the way to the Supreme Court and on to the U.S. Congress. The film is the cornerstone of an effort to generate knowledge of this hidden historical event, and to stimulate Americans to contribute online to provide compensation directly to the victims.

Sponsored by Bergen County Links

The Cake Eaters


Directed by Mary Stuart Masterson

Description: Winner of numerous awards, including Best Narrative Feature Award at the Portland Women's Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival, this film is a quirky, small town, ensemble drama that explores the lives of two interconnected families coming to terms with love in the face of loss. Living in rural America, The Kimbrough family's patriarch, Easy (Bruce Dern), is grieving over the recent loss of his wife. Beagle, his younger son, had done the lion's share of caring for his ailing mother. Elder son, Guy, has been away from the family for years while pursuing his rock star dream in the big city and upon his return home, relationships between the characters begin to unravel.  Beagle connects with Georgia Kaminski, a terminally ill teenage girl wanting to experience love before it's too late; and Easy's long time affair with Marg (Elizabeth Ashley), Georgia's grandmother, comes to light. Through it all, The Kimbroughs and Kaminskis manage to establish a new beginning in the face of their greatest fears. The film, featuring a luminous performance by Kristen Stewart as Georgia, is a New Jersey premiere, prior to its theatrical release.

Creative Nature


Directed by John Andres

Description: 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.

Days and Clouds


Directed by Silvio Soldini

Description: What happens to the marriage of a well-to-do, sophisticated couple, Elsa and Michele, when Michele is fired by the company he had founded years ago? The life of this couple and their grown daughter is put under a magnifying glass in this film, which sheds light on values and on the loss of security - which certainly resonates beyond the Genoa setting. According to director Soldini, the film "revolves around the strongest of all subjects: the power of love and the possibility of overcoming all difficulties thanks to it." 

Sponsored by WOW

The Exiles


Directed by Kent Mackenzie

Description: This 1961 black-and-white film tells the story of one wild but typical night in the lives of three young American Indians who have left their reservations to live in the Bunker Hill neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. The film follows Yvonne, her husband Homer and Tommy, a Mexican who lives with them, through fourteen hours of their everyday life. With the fall of night comes the drinking, card-playing, picking up girls, fighting and dancing of the boys, that is juxtaposed against Yvonne's lonely, uneventful existence. These two scenarios sum up the confused lives of a group that is part of a new generation caught between opposing forces - the past versus modern day living. The film features an all Native American cast and although it is a narrative feature, the script was based on Kent Mackenzie's extensive conversations with a group of Native Americans living in Bunker Hill. Amy Heller of Milestone Films will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

A Film and a Conversation with Philip Bosco


Directed by David Mament

Description: Wouldn't it be wonderful to watch a film and judge its craft, merits and themes with an actor? You'll have that opportunity in this program, with celebrated actor Philip Bosco, hosting "The Winslow Boy,"a favorite film of his. Mr. Bosco who is equally at home on the stage and on television as he is in film, has been nominated six times for a Tony award, winning in '89 as Best Actor in a Play for "Lend Me a Tenor." Recently, he was seen in the 2007 film "The Savages," and on television in the role of a dapper attorney in the FX series "Damages." The program will also give the audience a sneak peek at his next film, "When the Evening Comes."

Four Seasons Lodge


Directed by Andrew Jacobs

Description: From the darkness of Europe's death camps to the lush mountains of New York's Catskills, this film captures the final season for a community of Holocaust survivors who come together each summer to celebrate their lives. Beautifully photographed by a team of cinematographers led by Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), it is a counterintuitive film about the Holocaust, one that captures the Lodgers' intoxicating passion for living, in bracing contrast to lives harrowed by loss. The documentary is about tightly bonded friendships and the quest for inner peace in spite of haunting memories, as experienced through irresistibly compelling people and the richness of their intensely close lives. As one of them tells us, "We live with the past, and hope for a good future. When you compare the good times to the bad, we came out winners." Producers Matt Lavine and Kelly Sheehan will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

The Golem


Directed by Paul Wegener

Description: Widely recognized as the source of the Frankenstein myth, the ancient Hebrew legend of the Golem provided actor/director Paul Wegener with the substance for one of the most adventurous films of the German silent cinema. This 1920 film will be accompanied by a 7-piece orchestra, the BQE Project, playing a score composed specially for this film by Tom Nazziola, conductor and percussionist. The story: Suffering under the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II in 16th-century Prague, a Talmudic rabbi) creates a giant warrior (played by Paul Wegener) to protect the safety of his people. Sculpted of clay and animated by the mysterious secrets of the Kabbalah, the Golem is a seemingly indestructible juggernaut, performing acts of great heroism, yet equally capable of dreadful violence. When the rabbi's assistant (Ernst Deutsch) takes control of the Golem and attempts to use him for selfish gain, the lumbering monster runs rampant, abducting the rabbi's daughter and setting fire to the ghetto. Program will be hosted by Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone magazine.Not recommended for children under 10.

Co-Sponsored by the Teaneck Festival of Arts

Jar City


Directed by Baltasar Kormakur

Description: An elderly man is found murdered in his basement flat. Inspector Erlendur and his crew don't have much to go by in the investigation, but a photograph of a young girl's grave gives them a lead. They discover that many years ago the victim was accused, though not convicted, of horrible crimes. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man - with clues knit into the genetic bloodline of an entire country. Just before the turn of the century the Icelandic Government supported the launch of a controversial new company, deCODE Genetics Inc. The company specialized in genetic research and the government granted them access to all medical files in their database. When director Kormakur read Arnaldur Indridason's novel for the first time, he was fascinated by the way in which the author dealt with these issues and found the main character, Erlendur, fascinating. The film is a multi-layered story, unfolding bit by bit.

Kids Flix Mix


In conjunction with the New York International Children's Film Festival
Hosted by Bob McGrath of Sesame Street

Description: This program features the best offerings from the New York International Children's Film Festival, with more than 10 animated and live action shorts from around the globe. The films may be short, but are long on whimsy, charm, light-heartedness and subtlety. The Village Voice calls the selection  an "overflowing toy box of finely crafted small pleasures." Recommended for children aged 3 to 8.

Sponsored by Target

Last Stop for Paul


Directed by Neil Mandt

Description: This is a film about the joys - and perils - of  travel and backpacking around the world. Charlie and Cliff  -- two 20-something cubicle mates at a Los Angeles bathroom-supply company -- decide they want to go to the Full Moon party in Thailand. Along the way they travel around the world sprinkling the ashes of their dead friend Paul. They have enough money for the air fare but not enough for hotels, so they pretend to be writers for Frommer's travel guides and scam free rooms at fancy hotels. Adventures and unusual encounters ensue. The low-budget, improvised film follows Charlie (Mandt) and Cliff (the cinematographer, Marc Carter) as they stop off in Jamaica, Chile, Greece, Moscow, Tokyo, Vietnam and Thailand. Parental caution: references to drug use and sexual activity. Variety calls the film "well shot and edited despite its meager budget and good-natured, lightweight fun." 

Not Broken

Documentary - 55 minutes

Directed by Armando Ibanez

Description: This documentary incorporates poetry, music and artworks to illustrate the pain, joy, suffering, hope and, most especially, faith of those who suffered one of the hardest natural disasters to strike the United States in recent memory - Hurricane Katrina. In addition, ministers from a wide spectrum of faiths, and other volunteers, who worked with evacuees are included as they are a vital fiber of the story of the people of New Orleans, Biloxi, Pass Christian, and many other communities of the stricken Gulf Coast. Producer Pluma Pictures Inc., a nonprofit production company, is dedicated to making movies about heroes and heroines, "people who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds for a noble cause, universal values, such as for truth, peace, justice, tolerance, beauty and the importance of family and community."

Sponsored by Jewish Center of Teaneck

The Order of Myths


Directed by Margaret Brown

Description: The first Mardi Gras in America was celebrated in Mobile, Alabama in 1703 and in 2007, it is still racially segregated.  Filmmaker Margaret Brown, a daughter of Mobile, escorts us into the parallel hearts of the city's two carnivals.  With unprecedented access, she traces the exotic world of secret mystic societies and centuries-old traditions and pageantry; diamond-encrusted crowns, voluminous, hand-sewn gowns, surreal masks and enormous paper mache floats.  Against this opulent backdrop, she uncovers a tangled web of historical violence and power dynamics, elusive forces that keep this hallowed tradition organized along enduring color lines.

Sponsored by National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Bergen/Passaic Chapter

Paper Covers Rock


Directed by Joe Maggio

Description: This film tells the story of Sam, a troubled young woman who loses custody of her six year-old daughter in the wake of an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Following a brief stay at a psychiatric facility, Sam moves in with her older sister Ed, who graciously offers to help Sam piece her life back together. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions and it's not at all clear whether Ed is out to save or destroy her little sister. Remarkable for its ensemble acting and its outstanding cinematography - all done on a micro-budget - the film features particularly compelling performances by Jeannine Kaspar (Sam) and Sayra Player (Ed), who are totally believable as sisters. Parental caution: subject matter may be disturbing to young children. Writer/director Joe Maggio will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

The Sandwich Generation


Directed by: Julie Winokur

Description: The "sandwich generation" refers to those caught between their aging parents and young children  and includes more than 20 million Americans. In this emotionally charged account of family caregiving, filmmaker Julie Winokur and her husband, photojournalist Ed Kashi, expose their personal lives with unflinching candor. Winokur and Kashi uprooted their two children and their business and moved 3,000 miles cross-country to care for Winokur's father, Herbie. At 83, Herbie suffers from dementia and can no longer live alone. Winokur and Kashi are faced with difficult choices and overwhelming responsibility as they charge ahead through their sandwich years. It is a story of love, family dynamics and the immeasurable sacrifice of those caught in the middle.

Sponsered by: Classic Residence by Hyatt

Small Bites 1: Assorted Shorts



Directed by Various

Description: This program presents a sampling of shorts (animated and live action) from talented filmmakers, including the audience favorite winner of the Bergen County Film Commission's '08 Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow's competition for high school students: Run Sally Run, by Bergenfield resident Stevan Torres.  Also featured: "Raccoon and Crawfish," a short based on an ancient Oneida Indian legend; Entry of Buildings, based on a Jonathan Lethem short story; and more. 

Small Bites 2: A Sampling of Spanish Shorts



Directed by Various

Description: This program presents a sampling of some of the best work emerging from Spain, through animation and live action shorts: antic, serious, mysterious and amusing. They are: Las Mofas Magicas (The Magic Glasses); Mofetas (Skunks); Made in Japan; Boletos Por Favor; and Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear. 

Still Life


Directed by Jia Zhang-Ke

Description: Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2006, this film is an empathetic portrait of those left behind by a modernizing society and is a hybrid of documentary and fiction. Great changes have come to the town of Fengjie due to the construction of the Three Gorges hydro project: Countless families that had lived there for many generations have had to relocate to other cities. Fengjie's old town, which has a 2000-year history, has been torn down and submerged forever, but its new neighborhood hasn't been finished yet. There are still things that need to be salvaged and yet there are also things that must be left behind. In Still Life, such life-changing choices face both Sanming, a miner traveling to Fengjie in search of his ex-wife of 16 years, and Shen Hong, a nurse who has come to Fengjie to look for her husband who she hasn't seen in two years. Both Sanming and Shen will find who they're looking for, but in the process they too will have to decide what is worth salvaging in their lives and what they need to let go of. Director Jia Zhang-ke has said that the film represents "a reality that has been overlooked by us. Although time has left deep marks on it, it still remains silent and holds the secrets of life."

Take Out


Directed by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou

Description: Variety calls this film "a deeply affecting portrayal of struggling immigrants in Gotham" and "beautiful in unexpected ways."  It tells the story of a young Chinese immigrant who works as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. He rides silently through the dark, rain-soaked streets of Manhattan and comes face to face with countless apartment dwellers who simply see him as an anonymous and faceless delivery boy. The camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, the film presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City. Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou will participate in a Q&A following the screeening.

The Willow Tree


Directed by Majid Majidi

Description: Blind since childhood, Youssef has a devoted wife, loving daughter, and successful university career, but his affliction fills him with secret torment. As if in answer to his prayers, a Paris clinic restores his sight -- a miracle that is double-edged. Although this new world of sight and color floods Youssef with ecstasy, it also plunges him into a labyrinth of confusions and temptations. Eager to claim the lost life he feels he is owed but unable to take the next step, Youssef is inflamed with possibility and paralyzed with egoism. Majidi fashions this story into a powerful parable of sight and insight, using Youssef's condition both as a metaphor for life's second chances and as a source of breathtaking images seen through his reawakened eyes: a dazzling vista of snow-blanketed hills, a shower of molten gold sparks in a jewelry foundry, an array of lollipop lights behind a rain-speckled car window.