Teaneck International Film Festival: a force of unity 

Teaneck International Film Festival: a force of unity 

Thousands of people from diverse backgrounds attended screenings of the Teaneck International Film Festival Nov. 5–12. They celebrated “the film festival with a social conscience,” whose permanent theme is “Activism: Making Change.”

Teaneck High School students Rawda Elbatrawish and Liora Pelavin — who have gained national attention for the work they are doing to build bridges and create positive dialogue on Israel-Palestine relationships — were honored by the festival with an “Excellence in Youth Leadership Award” during the screening of the British film “The Old Oak.”

The event, attended by 400 people, was held at Temple Emeth, and included synagogue officials; Teaneck’s mayor, Michael Pagan; civil rights icon Theodora Smiley Lacey; members of the Eid Committee of New Jersey; and Shaykh Waleed Elbatrawish, the imam from Teaneck’s largest mosque. A food and wine reception, including halal and kosher foods from Teaneck restaurants, was held prior to the screening. TIFF’s executive director, Jeremy Lentz, said “The Old Oak” was a “perfect fit” for the occasion, because “it is a resolutely hopeful tale of a community coming together and rising above its differences and prejudices when Syrian refugees move into town.”

The festival featured a broad array of international films from numerous countries dealing with a host of relevant and often difficult topics. The prolific 93-year-old African-American artist Faith Ringgold attended a screening of her documentary film “Faith Ringgold: Tell It Like It Is.”

The festival closed with a screening of “Bella!,” the documentary on the life of U.S. Congresswoman Bella Abzug, that included a talkback with NJ’s former Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and filmmaker Jeff L. Lieberman.

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