2011 TIFF Roster

2011 Teaneck International Film Festival Film Roster

After the Fire


Directed by Guido Verweyen

Description: On January 19, 2000 Seton Hall University was vaulted to the national news when a fire set by arsonists, raced through a freshmen dorm, killing three students and injuring fifty-eight others. Two of the most critically injured were roommates Shawn Simmons and Alvaro Llanos. Laying in a coma, Shawn and Alvaro were unaware that a journalist and photographer were documenting every event in their fight for survival. The story proceeds from the devastating fire through the grueling medical treatment until their return to the same school where their ordeal had begun. The documentary is about heroes and cowards, referring to Simmons and Llanos as the heroes and Joseph LePore and Sean Ryan, the Seton Hall students who set the deadly fire and hid their crime for nearly three years as the cowards. This documentary will rattle and shake you to the core and at the same time celebrate the power of the human spirit in a memorable and gripping way.

Links: IMDb - Official Site

Ahead of Time (The Ruth Gruber Movie)


Directed by Bob Richman - English with Hebrew Subtitles

Produced by Zeva Oelbaum

Description: Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Gruber completed graduate studies in Germany to become the world's youngest PhD at the age of 20. As a foreign correspondent and photographer (for outlets including the New York Herald Tribune, New York Post and Life magazine), she provided groundbreaking coverage from the Soviet Arctic, Middle East and Nuremberg trials. Never just a journalist, she worked for the Roosevelt administration in Alaska in 1941, and escorted 1,000 Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York in a 1944 secret wartime mission. Later, her eyewitness dispatches on the plight of the passengers from the Exodus 1947 helped arouse the conscience of the world. Masterful editing leads the tidy production package. Ruth Gruber just didn’t report the news…she made it!

Links: Official Site - IMDb 

Sponsored by WOW (Wise Older Women)


Argentina - Documentary, Biography - 90 MINUTES

Directed by  Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

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.

Talkback: Sonia Sanchez, poet/playwright/activist moderated by Mikaela Angela Davis, CNN Contributor

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer 

Sponsored by Bergen County (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Belief Matters 

Presented by Media That Matters™ & Hartley Film Foundation

Jury Selected Religious Themed Shorts

Description: Compassion and understanding are tenants of all faiths.  In today's world, there is a universal call for tolerance, justice and charity. In other words…Belief Matters.

This collection contains films that show some of the myriad ways that Belief Matters. Part of the Media That Matters collection, these films showcase issues surrounding interfaith respect, human rights, and the environment.  The subjects of these short films express belief in the future, belief in others and belief in themselves. It is our hope that by viewing these films you are inspired to believe in the possibilities of change.

Children of God

Bahamas - 103 MINUTES

Directed by Kareem Mortimer 

Description: Set against the backdrop of a nation grappling with violent homophobic crime and offering a scathing examination of the underlying hatred for gays rampant in Caribbean societies, Bahamian Kareem Mortimer’s debut narrative feature tells the stories of three very different individuals: Lena, the conservative, deeply religious wife of a secretly gay firebrand pastor; Romeo, a handsome young black man hiding his sexuality from his close-knit and loving family; and Jonny, the conflicted and creatively-blocked white artist in search of himself. All three head for the spectacularly beautiful and tranquil island of Eleuthera, each with a different reason for escaping current circumstances. Soon, their disparate worlds collide in unexpected and affecting ways. This uncommon portrayal of love, loneliness, tolerance, secrets and self-acceptance takes viewers on a poignant multifaceted journey that is enlightening, courageous, and disquieting all at the same time, and which shocks to the very core with its startling conclusion.

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Farewell (L’affaire Farewell)

France - 113 Minutes

Directed by Christian Carion - French, Russian and English with English Subtitles

Description: Engaging, emotional and riveting, Farewell is an intricate and highly intelligent thriller pulled from the pages of history - about an ordinary man thrust into the biggest theft of Soviet information of the Cold War. Ronald Reagan called this piece of history - largely unknown until now, “one of the most important espionage cases of the 20th century.”

Directed by Christian Carion, the Academy Award® nominated filmmaker of Joyeux Nöel, Farewell, starring Willem Dafoe, begins in 1981, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. US/Soviet relations are at their lowest point in more than a decade. A French businessman based in Moscow, Froment, (French director Guillaume Canet, Tell No One), makes an unlikely connection with Grigoriev, (Palme d’Or and Golden Bear winner Emir Kusturica, Underground) a senior KGB officer disenchanted with what the Communist ideal has become under Brezhnev. Grigoriev begins passing Froment highly sensitive information about the Soviet spy network in the US. Torn between the fear of putting his wife (Alexandra Maria Lara, The Reader) and children in danger and the desire to know more, Froment brings the documents to the French government. Soon, the flow of information reaches the White House and brings the Soviet regime to the tipping point of collapse, forcing the KGB to escalate its search for the leak, and placing the two men and their families in extreme peril. “A fantastic true story.” -Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Gen Silent

70 Minutes

Directed by Stu Maddux

Description: Gen Silent is the critically-acclaimed documentary that asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their friends, their spouses- their entire lives in order to survive in the care system. Their surprising decisions are captured through intimate access to their day-to-day lives over the course of a year. It puts a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender older people so afraid of discrimination by caregivers or bullying by other seniors that many simply go back into the closet.

Unlike any film before, Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now affects older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with fear and isolation.Many who won the first civil rights victories for generations to come are now dying prematurely because they are reluctant to ask for help and have too few friends or family to care for them.

But a growing number of people are working to protect LGBT older adults and caregivers. As we watch the challenges that these men and women face, we are offered new hope as each person crosses paths with impassioned people trying to change LGBT aging for the better.

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Sponsored by Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Barbara & Jeffrey Ostroth, Linda Harrison & Jacqueline Grindrod, and Eva & Larry Tobias.

The Good Fight (The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War) 

98 Minutes 

Directed by Mary Dore, Noel Buckner, Sam Sills 

Description: The fight for the freedom of Loyalist Spain during the 1936-39 civil war pitted an International Brigade of 35,000 civilian soldiers from more than 50 nations against the well-equipped insurgents of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Aid to Franco came via Italian fighter planes from Mussolini and from the Nazi Condor Legion of Junker bombers sent by Hitler, who wanted to try out his new weaponry in anticipation of the larger war to come. Spurred by their government¹s failure to aid Spanish democracy, 2,800 American volunteers fought with distinction in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade within the international volunteer army. Lincoln veterans (over 750 were killed in Spain) returned home after the Loyalist defeat to encounter suspicion as "premature anti-fascists." Branded Communist sympathizers, blacklisted for years and unable to get work, many paid dearly for their good fight.  Narrated by Studs Terkel, The Good Fight explores a significant gap in our history through its use of newsreels, photographs, interviews with Lincoln veterans and Depression-era music. The eleven surviving veterans of the war who appear in this tough, stirring film share a common pride in their sacrifices of seventy years ago when the rise of world fascism crushed the spirit of democracy in a tragic rehearsal for World War II.

Talkback: with members of ALBA

Links: IMDb

Halfaouine/Boy of the Terraces

Tunisia - 98 minutes

Directed by Ferid Bougehdir - Arabic with English subtitles 

Description: Set against the sensual, erotic backdrop of modern Tunisia, renowned Arab critic-turned-filmmaker Ferid Boughedir's Halfaouine: Boy of the Terraces is a bittersweet portait of a boy's sexual awakening. Noura (Selim Boughedir, the director's nephew) is an inquisitive thirteen-year-old whose eyes are opened to his own sexual desires when he visits the local bathhouse with his mother. Gazing upon the spectacular array of unclothed women and girls, Noura begins to experience his first pangs of longing. But just as Noura is awakened to the pleasures of the fair sex, he risks being wrested from their tender, affectionate companionship and into the callous and rigid company of men.

A sensitive, comical look at the difficulty of growing up under the puritanical codes of Islam, Boughedir's film is also a rich, vibrant portait of the Arab neighborhood of Halfaouine, with its array of colorful and eccentric citizenry from whom Noura learns the complicated, often hypocritical ways of adulthood.

Talkback: to follow on Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution and the implications for Tunisia, North Africa and the Middle East 

Links: IMDb

Kid Flix Mix 2011

The Best of the New York International Children's Film Festival

Animation and Live Action Shorts - 60 Minutes

Hosted by Bob McGrath of Sesame Street

Description: 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, for children from 3-6. Bob McGrath, of Teaneck and Sesame Street, will introduce the program, which features musical and narrative works from the USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, Hungary, Spain, and more. The collection is guaranteed to delight our youngest filmgoers.

  • Mi’au Myau Animation, Vida Vega, 2009, UK, 1 minute
  • All That Cats Animation, Mátyás Lanczinger, 2009, Hungary, 1 minute x 3 
  • How the Shammies Bathed Mixed Media, Edmunds Jansons, 2010, Latvia, 7 minutes
  • Whistleless Animation, Siri Melchior, 2010, Denmark, 5 minutes
  • The Yellow Balloon Animation, Ben Thompson/Rob Castillo, 2010, USA, 3 minutes
  • Who’s There?  Animation, Vanda Raýmanová, 2009, Slovakia, 9.5 minutes
  • Mobile Animation, Verena Fels, 2010, Germany, 6 minutes
  • Saari Animation, Pablo Jordi, 2008, Spain, 3 minutes x 2 
  • Snowflakes and Carrots Animation, Samantha Leriche-Gionet, Canada,2010, 4 minutes
  • Precise Peter Animation, Martin Schmidt, 2010, Germany, 5 minutes
  • Murphy’s Shorts Animation, Todd Hemker, 2009, USA, 2 minutes
  • Ormie Animation, Rob Silvestri, 2009, Canada , 4 minutes 

Sponsored by Puffin Foundation, children will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult

Leave It on the Floor

Musical - Canada - 107 minutes

Directed by Sheldon Larry

Description: Sheldon Larry’s audacious, raunchy and big-hearted musical - with songs by Beyoncé music director Kim Burse and choreography by Beyoncé dance master Frank Gatson Jr. - takes us into the fabulously funky world of voguing. (Remember the documentary “Paris is Burning”?) Here the setting is contemporary downtown L.A. Our hunky, homeless hero Brad, discarded by his homophobic mom, falls in with the members of The House of Eminence, ruled by the stern aging diva Queef Latina, who keeps a careful, loving watch over her makeshift family of runaways and throwaways. When two of her crew fall for Brad, the Queef is royally unamused. High flying and low down, Leave it on the Floor is a one of a kind celebration - a gay African American musical about finding your true family.

Talkback: Q&A with Dr. Eric Goldman

Links: IMDb

Life, Love, Soul

108 Minutes

Directed by Noel Calloway 

Description: Kimberly Jackson, a successful attorney, is raising her sons, Roosevelt and his younger brother Clinton, in the affluent Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Roosevelt, a high school senior, is 17, handsome, and talented. His biggest concern is whether to choose Syracuse University or UCLA. Tragedy strikes when an out of control SUV smashes into the Jackson family car, instantly killing Kimberly and Clinton and leaving Roosevelt alone in a world devoid of the love and support he has always known. He moves in with his estranged father, disgruntled construction worker Earl Grant, a man who is ill equipped to raise the son he has never known and nurture him through this tragedy. In spite of the intervention of Earl's wife, there are frequent explosive confrontations between father and son. It isn't until Roosevelt meets Kyna Tate, a new student in his school, that he begins to live again and is ready to establish a relationship with his father. As he begins to piece his life together, however, he is blindsided by another life-altering circumstance.
This film stars acclaimed actors Jamie Hector and Chad Coleman of HBO’s The Wire, Egypt, famed radio personality on WBLS 107.5, Terri Vaughn from The Steve Harvey Show, and Tami Roman from the VH1 Series Basketball Wives.

Links: Official Site

Sponsored by the Bergen County Chapter of The Links, Inc., the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Bergen/Passaic Chapter, and Teaneck/Englewood Vicinity Club

Ma'aleh School of Television, Film & the Arts of Jerusalem Short Series

Short - 53 minutes 

Hebrew with English subtitles


The Divide (2011; Fiction; 20 minutes; Director – Tzvi Yehuda Herling) Kobi has joined the army, despite his parents' opposition. He returns to his home in the hills of Samaria for the Sabbath just before he is to be given the award for Outstanding Soldier at an upcoming IDF ceremony. There, he discovers that the army has given the order for his family's eviction.  Trailer

A-Maiseh (2003; Fiction; 18 minutes; Director – Yitzchak Sverdlov) The warm relationship between Mendel, an elderly Holocaust survivor, and his Filipino caretaker, Jose, is tested when Jose does not have a work permit and the police begin searching the neighborhood for illegal foreign workers. Trailer

I'm Ready (2009; Drama; 15 minutes; Director – Esther Siton) The special relationship between an elderly father and his Down Syndrome son breaks down when the father's memory begins to fail due to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The collapse of their stable and happy routine forces the two of them to contemplate a painful resolution of their problems. Trailer

Talkback: with Neta Ariel, Director of Ma'aleh School

Sponsored by the Jewish Center of Teaneck, and the Jewish Community Council

Mahler on the Couch (Mahler auf der Couch) 

Austria, Germany - 100 minutes

Directed by Percy and Felix Adlon - German with English Subtitles

Description: This exuberant imagining of the real-life marriage of Gustav Mahler (Johannes Silberschneider) and his tempestuous wife Alma Schindler Mahler (the luminous Barbara Romaner) is a sensory feast of art, sex and celebrity in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Chafing under her agreement to give up her own musical ambitions, Alma seeks passion in the arms of the young, dashing architect Walter Gropius, which sends a tormented Mahler to Sigmund Freud for consultation. “Cameos” by Gustav Klimt and Max Burckhard. Moving and funny (the sessions with Freud are sly gems) the film is filled with Mahler’s sublime music conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Beautifully written and directed by Percy Adlon (Baghdad Café) and his son Felix Adlon. “Very witty and erotic…Percy Adlon is up to old tricks in this, delightful, artistically vigorous and occasionally loony fantasia about Vienna's cultural elite 100 years ago.” –The Hollywood Reporter

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Media That Matters™ Short Film Festival 

Jury Selected Short Films

Talkback: Julie Winokur, Director of Denied and The Leaves Keep Falling along with Carol Devoe, Co-Producer, Teaneck native, & TIFF Co-Chair, Youth Outreach

Decscription: Tying closely into TIFF's theme of Activism: Making Change, we are proud to once again present and partner with Arts Engine Eleventh Annual Media That Matters Short Film Festival. The Media That Matters Film Festival is the premiere showcase for short films on the most important topics of the day. Local and global, online and in communities around the world, Media That Mattersengages diverse audiences and inspires them to take action. 
From religious acceptance in America to Asperger’s Syndrome, the jury-selected collection represents the work of a diverse group of independent filmmakers, many of whom are under 21. The films are equally diverse in style and content, with documentaries, music videos, animations, experimental work and everything else in between. What all the films have in common is that they spark debate and action in 12 minutes or less.

Links: Official Site

Mourning on Charlotte Street

Short - 30 minutes

Directed by Frank M. Calo

Description: In 1954, a teenage body lies twisted in an alley on Charlotte street in the Bronx. The question is why?  Nicky, a high school honor student, dreams of college and a future with his loving girlfriend, Jenny Corbin. Lorenzo, a charismatic high school drop out, spends his days in pool halls mixing with the local hoodlums. Separated by darkness and corruption, united by the unbreakable bond of brotherly love, relive the tough streets of the Bronx in the 1950’s in this powerful tale that became front page news and captured the heart of a city.

Links: IMDb

Music by Prudence

Short - 33 minutes

Directed by Roger Ross Williams

Description: 2010 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Short, Music by Prudence tells a self-empowering story of one young woman’s struggle who, together with her band, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds and in her own voice conveys to the world that “disability does not mean inability”  In addition to its sheer emotional punch, Music by Prudence has become the cornerstone of an advocacy campaign and has been embraced by the UN, Human Rights Watch and the disability community as an unprecedented portrayal advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Links: Official Site - IMDb

On the Bowery

Black and White - 65 minutes

Directed by Lionel Rogosin

Description: On the Bowery is Rogosin’s legendary early Oscar® nominated independent documentary chronicling three days on New York’s skid row, shot on location in downtown streets, and now in a new 35mm restoration.  Ray enters the Confidence Bar & Grill where he meets Gorman, an older man who likes to tell stories of his more successful bygone days.  Ray falls in with Gorman and his band of drunks who help him spend all his money on muscatel.  Both wanting more, Gorman suggests that Ray sells some of his possessions.  Going through Ray’s suitcase, Gorman finds some clothes that they can sell at the thieves’ market.  He also spots a watch in the suitcase, but Ray quickly takes it back saying that it won’t be sold.  With the extra money, the pair go back to the bar.  Surrounded by fellow drinkers in advanced states of alcoholic decay, Ray buys them rounds of drinks.  Dead drunk, he stumbles out to the street and blacks out. Gorman helps himself to Ray’s suitcase.  Here begins Ray’s decent – and his hopes to escape the Bowery one day.  "A milestone in American cinema… On the Bowery is very special to me… Rogosin’s film is so true to my memories of that place and that time. He accomplished his goal, of portraying the lives of the people who wound up on the Bowery, as simply and honestly and compassionately as possible. It’s a rare achievement." -Martin Scorsese

Talkback: Christian Hogarth, director/writer; Joel Nagle, producer; moderated by David Bland

Links: IMDb - Official Site


Oscar's Comeback

21 Minutes

Directed by Lisa Collins and Mark Shwartzburt

Description: About 150 miles to the nearest mall, in a dwindling, all-white farm town, a collision of two unlikely worlds sparks at a homespun, folksy event meant to save the day.  Welcome to Gregory, South Dakota—home of the annual Oscar-Micheaux Film &Book Festival; dedicated to the town’s black native son, “Godfather of Independent Cinema” Oscar Micheaux…a largely forgotten filmmaker, with 44 features under his belt, known for his controversial melodramas.  Over six years, Oscar’s Comeback documents those five sweltering days in August and the tensions leading up to them.  Our modern-day Race Movie captures the struggle to achieve the American Dream across our country’s tricky racial and economic divide.

Talkback: Christian Hogarth, director/writer; Joel Nagle, producer; moderated by David Bland

Links: Official Site

Sponsored by Holy Name Medical Center

Paths of Glory

Black and White - 88 Minutes

Directed by Stanley Kubrick 

Description: Paths of Glory, the 1957 antiwar masterpiece, catapulted Stanley Kubrick to international acclaim. Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb, developed by Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, it would become one of the most powerful films about the wasteful insanity of warfare. In one of his finest roles, Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn regiment of the French army along the western front during World War I. Held in their trenches under the threat of German artillery, the regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture an enemy stronghold. When the mission inevitably fails, French generals order the selection of three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as defense attorney for the chosen scapegoats, and what follows is a travesty of justice that has remained relevant and powerful for decades. In the wake of some of the most authentic and devastating battle sequences ever filmed, Kubrick brilliantly explores the political machinations and selfish personal ambitions that result in battlefield slaughter and senseless executions. The film is unflinching in its condemnation of war and the self-indulgence of military leaders who orchestrate the deaths of thousands from the comfort of their luxurious headquarters. For many years, Paths of Glory was banned in France as a slanderous attack on French honor, but it's clear that Kubrick's intense drama is aimed at all nations and all men. Though it touches on themes of courage and loyalty in the context of warfare, the film is specifically about the historical realities of World War I, but its impact and artistic achievement remain timeless and universal. - Jeff Shannon

Links: IMDb

The Piano in a Factory (Gang de qin) 

China - 105 Minutes

Directed by Zhang Meng - Mandarin with English subtitles

Description: When Chen's estranged wife reappears asking for a divorce and custody of their daughter, the musician girl decides she will live with whoever can provide her with a piano. Chen's struggle thus begins. When efforts to borrow money and even steal a piano fail, Chen concocts a preposterous plan - he'll make a piano from scratch! He persuades a bunch of reluctant, but loyal, misfit friends to help him forge the instrument in a derelict factory from a heap of scrap steel. Though crude in design and tune, the factory piano awaits its first and final performance from his little girl. "A delightful Chinese film that artfully blends music, romance, comedy and just a little social comment… a thoroughly enjoyable movie experience!" – Mark Adams, Screen Daily

Links: Official SiteIMDb

Sponsored by The Teaneck Community Chorus

The Potential Wives of Norman Mao

8 Minutes

Directed by Derek Nguyen

Description: Norman Mao is an overweight, and socially awkward man-child from Hong Kong, who at the age of 33 is still unwed. Desperate to get him married, his parents take him on an international junket across the globe to find him a worthy Chinese wife. The Mao’s arrive to a New York City hotel, which is their final stop on their trip and their last hope to find Norman a bride. Having hired a professional matchmaking service, the Mao’s meet with three matches for Norman. Will one of these women be a potential wife for Norman or is he destined to lead a terribly lonely life?
The Potential Wives of Norman Mao is a quirky and heartwarming short film narrated by the legendary George Takei (Star Trek) and starring Ed Lin (A Waiter Tomorrowand renowned writer), Tina Chen (Three Days of the Condor, Face), Ron Nakahara (Hawaii Five-O), Cindy Cheung (Lady in the Water, Children of Invention), Michelle Ang (Xena, The Tribe), Soomi Kim (Law & Order), and Wai Ching Ho (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Flight of the Conchords).

Talkback: Actors and Director of film

Links: IMDb

The Price of Sugar

90 minutes

Directed by Bill Haney

Description: In the Dominican Republic, a tropical island-nation, tourists flock to pristine beaches unaware that a few miles away thousands of dispossessed Haitians have toiled under armed-guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, much of which ends up in U.S. kitchens. They work grueling hours and frequently lack decent housing, clean water, electricity, education or healthcare. Narrated by Paul Newman, The Price of Sugar follows Father Christopher Hartley, a charismatic Spanish priest, as he organizes some of this hemisphere's poorest people to fight for their basic human rights. This film raises key questions about where the products we consume originate and at what human cost they are produced.

Links: IMDb

Sponsored by Fair Trade Teaneck 

Revolution ‘67

90 minutes

Directed by Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno

Description: Revolution '67 is an illuminating account of events too often relegated to footnotes in U.S. history - the black urban rebellions of the 1960s. Focusing on the six-day Newark, NJ, outbreak in mid-July, Revolution ‘67reveals how the disturbances began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America's struggles over race and economic justice. Voices from across the spectrum - activists Tom Hayden and Amiri Baraka, journalist Bob Herbert, Mayor Sharpe James, and other officials, National Guardsmen and Newark citizens - recall lessons as hard-earned then as they have been easy to neglect since.

Talkback: with filmmaker and activists from Newark

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Standing Silent 

81 minutes

Directed by Scott Rosenfelt

Description: An insular Orthodox neighborhood in Baltimore is scandalized after a journalist uncovers generations of child molestation at the hands of prominent rabbis. Unrelenting in his pursuit despite terrible personal repercussions, Baltimore Jewish Times reporter Phil Jacobs is determined to break the silence of victims and expose the predators, trusted and powerful religious leaders. Expecting community support and action, Jacobs is stunned to find himself ostracized by those who would cover up decades of abuse lest they bring shame to the rabbinate and themselves. Through a multiyear investigation, Jacobs confronts not only the Orthodox establishment, but demons from his own past. From Baltimore to Brooklyn, to the streets of Jerusalem, case after case of abuse is slowly brought to light. Recipient of a Sundance Documentary Filmmaker Grant, this taboo breaking film recounts how a courageous reporter’s pen became his sword of justice.

Links: IMDb

Sponsored by Aura Car & Limousine (The Official Car Service of TIFF)

To Be Heard

87 minutes

Directed by Edwin Martinez, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Deborah Shaffer, and Amy Sultan 

Description: To Be Heard is the story of three teens from the South Bronx whose struggle to change their lives begins when they start to write poetry. As writing and reciting become vehicles for their expressions of love, friendship, frustration, and hope, we watch these three youngsters emerge as accomplished self-aware artists, who use their creativity to alter their circumstances. 

A verité film, intimately shot over four years, To Be Heard is the story of three friends and the love that develops between them as they evolve as artists. This “tripod,” as they call it, is bound by proximity, circumstance, and poetry. To Be Heard is also the story of how language links people. Pearl is the support and soul of the three; Karina is the passion and heart; and Anthony is the energy and physicality. In a community where friendships are kept tenuous for many reasons, these three build a bond based on language, respect, and the need to survive. 

“A topnotch testimonial to the transformative power of the pen…What could have been a by-the-numbers inspirational lesson is transformed by the brilliance of collaborative filmmaking, the weight of time, the vitality of the kids and the power of their poetry into an exemplary work. Reminiscent of the years-spanning intimacy of Love and Diane or Hoop Dreams, the docu plays like a three-pronged, true-life version of Precious, but studded with pithy, evocative verse and without that film's ingrained sense of otherness.”– Ronnie Scheib, Variety

Links: IMDb

Sponsored by Teaneck Rotary Club

We Need to Talk About Kevin

112 minutes

Directed by Lynne Ramsay

This film has not been rated and may be inappropriate for children, parental discretion advised.

Description: Premiering at Teaneck following Cannes, Telluride and Toronto, Lynne Ramsay's superb version of the best-selling Lionel Shriver novel tackles the mess left behind for the mother of a teenage murderer in the making. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a mother haunted by the actions of her son in the suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin. It is a movie which is a skin-peelingly intimate character study and a brilliantly nihilist, feminist parable: what happens when smart progressive career women give birth to boys? We Need to Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva's own culpability is measured against Kevin's (Ezra Miller) innate evilness. Ramsay's masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.  Also starring Academy Award Nominee John C. Reilly as Franklin. 

Links: IMDb

Welcome to Shelbyville

70 minutes

Directed by Kim A. Snyder

Description: Welcome to Shelbyville is a rare, inside look at America at a crossroads. In a small Tennessee town in the heart of the Bible Belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Just a stone’s throw away from Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan), Shelbyville’s longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a burgeoning Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Somali refugees of Muslim faith. Set on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, the film captures the interaction between Shelbyville’s old and new residents as they search for a way to live together during that tumultuous, history-changing year.

Links: Official Site - IMDb

Sponsored by Nachman and Associates

Women on the 6th Floor (Les femmes du 6ème étage)

France - 104 minutes

Directed by Philippe Le Guay - French with English Subtitles

Description: Paris, in the early 1960s. Jean-Louis Joubert is a serious but uptight stockbroker, married to Suzanne, a starchy class-conscious woman and father of two arrogant teenage boys, currently in a boarding school. The affluent man lives a steady yet boring life. At least until, due to fortuitous circumstances, Maria, the charming new maid at the service of Jean-Louis' family, makes him discover the servants' quarter on the sixth floor of the luxury building he owns and lives in. There live a crowd of lively Spanish maids who will help Jean-Louis to open to a new civilization and a new approach of life. In their company - and more precisely in the company of beautiful Maria - Jean-Louis will gradually become another man, a better man.

Links: IMDb