This week, HFI found a festival with a mission. The Teaneck International Film Festival of Teaneck, NJ is a festival that year after year promotes activism and the good that comes from it. I spoke with Festival Executive Director Jeremy Lentz about the origins of his fest.
It was nine years ago, Lentz says, that the festival was founded by two women. “They were working one day at the spa and basically decided that Teaneck needed a film festival,” Lentz says. After securing funding from The Puffin Foundation, an arts foundation in Teaneck, the festival began in 2005. Lentz took control of the festival in 2009 and established the permanent theme of activism and the change that it creates. The theme stems from the town’s history. “Teaneck has always been known as an activist town,” he says. “It was the first township in the history of the United Stated to vote to racially integrate its public school systems.” As part of their activism theme, this year one of Teaneck’s key topics will be Women’s Liberation. “You’re going to see a lot of films from female directors and producers of films that will touch upon the topic of women equality and gender equality,” Lentz says.
Since its small beginnings, the festival has grown exponentially, now attracting more than 3,000 people from around the world. “It’s not just a local Bergen County, North New Jersey event,” he says. “It is a cultural event that attracts people from all over, whether it’s New York City, the west coast, Europe, or the Middle East.” With such a large reach and hard-hitting topics, Lentz is confident their films will not only open eyes but spark debates amongst the audience.
The Teaneck International Film Festival goes from November 7 to 9, 2014, so filmmakers still have time to submit their work (due before July 15, 2014). For those looking to get involved, Lentz says that they’re currently looking for a Social Media Director to serve on the Executive Board. To learn more, visit www.teaneckfilmfestival.org.