2017 TIFF Roster

2017 Teaneck International Film Festival Film Roster

April in Blue


Directed by Christian Hogarth

Description: An innocent game opens old wounds and sends a loving couple on a downward spiral.

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

Links: IMDb - Facebook

Back to Natural

Documentary - 69 minutes

Directed by Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward

Description: 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.

Talkback: Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward, director/writer/producer; moderated by Dr. Venessa Perry, Huffington Post contributor

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

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

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

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.

Birthright: A War Story

Documentary - 100 minutes

Directed by Civia Tamarkin

Description: 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.”

Talkback:  Senator Loretta Weinberg; Civia Tamarkin, director/writer/producer; Luchina Fisher, writer

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg & The National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section

Body & Soul: An American Bridge

Documentary - 58 minutes

Directed by Robert Philipson

Description: 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. Perfomance by Teaneck Community Chorus.

Talkback: Robert Philipson, director/writer/producer; Loren Schoenberg,National Jazz Museum in Harlem; moderated by Calvin Hill, famed bass player

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer 

Sponsored by The Teaneck Community Chorus

Breakfast at Ina's

Documentary, Biography - 51 minutes

Directed by Mercedes Kane

Description: 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.

Talkback: Q&A with Matt Okin and Huey Esquire of Black Box Studios and PAC

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Trailer

Sponsored by Black Box Studios and Performing Arts Center& Rotary Club of Teaneck

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Drama, History, Romance - 112 minutes

Directed by Julie Dash

Description: 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.

Talkback: Talkback with Actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce; Michelle Materre, Professor, New School; Kathryn Bowser; Kay Shaw; moderated by Sandi Klein

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

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

Dear Zindagi

Drama, Romance - India - 151 minutes

Directed by Gauri Shinde - Hindi with English subtitles

Description: 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.

Links: IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by NPZ Law Group, Global Immigration Attorneys

Divine Order

Drama - Switzerland - 96 minutes

Directed by Petra Volpe - German, English, Italian, and Swiss German with English subtitles

Description: 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.

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

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by Adeline Wijnen


Documentary, Biography, History - 95 minutes

Directed by Peter Bratt

Description: 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.

Talkback: Juanita Chavez, Dolores's daughter; moderated by Sandi Klein

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by Wise Older Women, YWCA of Bergen County, Deborah Witcher Jackson, Teaneck Women Together, the Vine

Fanny's Journey

Drama - France/Belgium - 94 minutes

Directed by Lola Doillon - French with English subtitles

Description: 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.

Talkback: Q&A with Dr. Eric Goldman

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by The Jewish Standard

Five-Finger Discount

Documentary - 55 minutes

Directed by Steven Fischler

Description: 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.

Talkback: Steven Fischler, director/producer; moderated by David Cruz,NJTV

Links: Official Site - Trailer

Sponsored by NJTV

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Documentary - 98 minutes

Directed by Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk

Description: 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.

Talkback: 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

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.

Keep Quiet

Documentary - Hungary - 90 minutes

Directed by Sam Blair and Joe Martin - English, Hungarian, German with English subtitles

Description: 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?

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Trailer

Sponsored by Rotary Club of Teaneck

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

Description: 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.

Talkback: with Dori Berinstein, director/writer/producer; moderated by Matt Okin and Huey Esquire of Black Box Studios and PAC

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Trailer

Sponsored by Black Box Studios and Performing Arts Center

My Life as a Zucchini

Animation, Comedy, Drama - Switzerland/France - 67 minutes - PG-13

Directed by Claude Barras

Description: 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!

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

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by YWCA of Bergen County


Comedy, Drama - India - 106 minutes

Directed by Amit Masurkar - Hindi with English subtitles

Description: 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.

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

Links: IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by League of Women Voters of Teaneck, NJ in cooperation with Barbara Ostroth, Coldwell Banker RE & Shirley Sosland, Russo Real Estate


Documentary - 104 minutes

Directed by Jonathan Olshefski

Description: 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.

Talkback: moderated by David Bland

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook

Sponsored by The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County

Restless Creature

Documentary - 90 minutes

Directed by Linda Saffire & Adam Schlesinger

Description: 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.

Talkback: Wendy Whelan, principal dancer, New York City Ballet; Holly Hynes, ballet costume designer; moderated by Sandi Klein

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by Sandi Klein's Conversations with Creative Women

Strange Fruit (2002)

Documentary - 57 minutes

Directed by Joel Katz

Description: 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.

Talkback: Joel Katz, director/writer/producer; moderated by Calvin Hill, famed bass player

Links: IMDb

Sponsored by The Teaneck Community Chorus

Swim Team

Documentary, Drama, Family - 90 minutes

Directed by Lara Stolman

Description: 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. Perfomance by TJ & BF Middle School bands 

Talkback: Coach Mike & son Mikey; Dr. David Levesque, has Tourette Syndrome; Mike Hayden, NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome; moderated by Pat Philips

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by The Teaneck Public Schools & The Township of Teaneck

This Beautiful Fantastic

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy - 92 minutes

Directed by Simon Aboud

Description: 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.

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

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by Five Star Premier Residences of Teaneck

Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Documentary - 90 minutes

Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot

Description: 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.

Talkback: Q&A with Jeremy Lentz

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

The Women's Balcony

Comedy, Drama - Israel - 96 minutes

Directed by Emil Ben-Shimon - Hebrew with English subtitles

Description: 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.

Talkback: Q&A with Moshe Kinderlehrer, Jewish Link

Links: Official Site - IMDb - Facebook - Trailer

Sponsored by The Jewish Link of New Jersey