New Venues, Activist Theme Mark Upcoming Teaneck Film Festival
Sixth annual festival kicks off Nov. 11 and will feature at least 30 films under the theme of ‘Activism: Making Change’
Teaneck International Film Festival (TIFF) organizers promise a weekend that'll be “bigger and better than ever” for this year’s event that runs from Nov. 11 to 13.
Adding two larger venues marks something new for the sixth annual film festival, but last year’s theme – “Activism: Making Change” – was deemed a worthy title for this year and the foreseeable future.
At least 30 films will be screened at the following venues: Cedar Lane Cinemas; The Puffin Foundation; Davis, Saperstein & Salomon; Jewish Center of Teaneck; Teaneck High School (new venue) and Temple Emeth (new venue).
Opening night of the festival begins at 7:30 p.m. at THS and will feature the New Jersey premiere of “Life, Love, Soul.” The movie is directed by Noel Calloway and stars Jamie Hector and Chad Coleman of HBO’s “The Wire," radio personality Egypt, Terri Vaughn of “The Steve Harvey Show," and Tami Roman of “Basketball Wives.”
The film is being sponsored by The Bergen County, New Jersey Chapter of The Links Inc., The Bergen/Passaic Chapter of The National Coalition of 100 Black Women and The Teaneck/Englewood & Vicinity Club.
“All three groups are sponsoring the opening night, and each group has their own members in addition to the film festival’s following, so we felt we needed a large venue to accommodate the amount of people,” said TIFF Executive Director Jeremy Lentz. “In addition, “Life, Love, Soul” is a film that we feel the youth and the high school students would have an interest in. So by showing the film at the high school, we’d have a much bigger venue, plus we’d also hopefully involve students from both the public and parochial schools in Teaneck and the surrounding areas.”
Lentz said officials at Temple Emeth, which is the other new venue this year, approached TIFF about being a part of the festival.
“They’re looking to expand on their theater space in terms of making it more accessible for different community events, and they want to use their partnership with us as a springboard,” Lentz said. “The nice thing about Temple Emeth is that it’s a larger venue, so it can accommodate more people.”
TIFF also started a youth outreach project, which is still in the planning and development phase. Teaneck residents Carol DeVoe, who is also a film producer, and Theodora Lacey are serving as co-directors for this initiative that seeks to make use of the creative skills of area teens.
In regards to keeping the same theme as last year, Lentz said “Activism: Making Change” fits the identity of Teaneck, which was the first town in the U.S. that voted to integrate its public schools, was chosen as a “model town” in the rebuilding of Japan after WWII, and is home to the Puffin Foundation, which when it opened in 1983, “gave a voice to artists who’d been marginalized because of their social or political beliefs.”
“When we reconvened at the start of the year for planning on the film festival, we really felt that this theme should be a permanent fixture,” Lentz said. “Everyone agreed that the theme really established us and gave us a niche in the film festival community because there are so many film festivals out there. At the end of the day, what distinguishes one film festival from the other? So we really felt that this was something that made us unique and gave us a voice beyond just being another film festival in the New Jersey/New York tri-state area.”
Lentz said movie goers will have the opportunity to see films that haven’t been shown in wide release nationally or that won’t open for some time, including “Life, Love, Soul;” “Mahler on the Couch;” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” which stars Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.
A majority of the films will feature panel discussions afterward. To find out which films will feature discussions, visit TIFF’s website here to see if a note about a discussion is listed next to each movie synopsis.
Lentz said the “talk-backs” most likely will follow the “hot-button issues” covered in the movie.
“We want to engage the community, create a dialogue, represent the diversity of our town, and represent the different factions of our community,” he said. “This year we’re showing films in Arabic, we’re showing a lot of foreign features, we have films that appeal to the Latino community, the gay and lesbian community, to children, to youth, to the Asian community. We want people to be engaged and informed citizens – that’s the purpose of this festival. We don’t only want to show films for the sake of showing films. We want to show films that get people involved and make them informed and aware and hopefully make them act toward positive change.”
Attendees to the film festival can purchase their tickets on TIFF’s website. Opening night tickets are $10. After opening night, tickets purchased in advance are $5; otherwise, they’re $7 at the door. A weekend pass that includes opening night is priced at $30.
To find out the time and location of the film you'd like to see, click on the "Get Tickets!" button on the left side margin of the website and then click "View Event" next to each movie listing. Times and locations for each film are still being assigned, so check back regularly if you don't see tickets available yet for the movie you'd like to see.