Trenton Film Festival

2018 Trenton Film Festival

Thank you to all of our filmmakers for making this year’s festival an unparalleled success!

We are pleased to announce this year’s award winners:

The Organizer
(US, Dir. Nick Taylor)

Gold Mettle
(US, Dir. Nicholas Carney)

Dad is Pretty
(Korea, Dir. Park Soo-min)

Return Safely
(US, Dir. Eric Burleson)

Alpha  Fish
(US, Dir. Roger An)

The Poet
(US, Dir. Adam Cushman)

One Mother’s Fire: The Gail Minger  Story
(US, Dir. Diana Nicolae)

The Organizer
(US, Dir. Nick Taylor)




7:00 pm – Thursday Night Feature — BUY TICKETS

Light Sight
(dir. Seyed M. Tabatabaei, Iran, animation, 7.5 minutes)
Born of light, M.E. is trapped in a room. Drawn to a hanging light, he tries to catch it, but the room itself becomes an obstacle.

Blows with the Wind
(dir. Hazhir As’adi, Iran, animation, 6.5 minutes)
A scarecrow in a field finds himself becoming more and more human.

(dir. Kazem Mollaie, Iran, narrative, 81 minutes)
Dr. Ahmed Kupal is a hunter and taxidermist. On the eve of Nuroz, the Iranian New Year, he finds himself faced with an unexpected challenge.




7:00 pm – Friday Night Documentaries — BUY TICKETS

Fire and Light
(dir. Dana Johnson, US, documentary, 10.5 minutes)
Four siblings with autism find an unusual path to healing: fire dancing.

(dir. Julio Mas Alcaraz, Spain, documentary, 11.5 minutes)
One night spent with Enrique, a man who chooses to sleep every night in Terminal 4 of Madrid Airport.

@ Beautiful Mountains
(dir. Teng Chen, China, documentary, 40 minutes)
In the 500-year-old village of Meishan, over half the population has left for the cities. The film follows a 26-year-old entrepreneur who aspires to bring the internet age to his rural hometown, and a 90-year-old master of traditional dance who tries to pass on his centuries-old expertise to the next generation.

Every Ghost Has an Orchestra
(dir. Shayna Connelly, US, documentary, 7 minutes)
The universal question of what happens after we die is explored by paranormal researcher and experimental composer Michael Esposito. Warning: contains high-pitched sounds and feedback noise.

Waking a Monster
(dir. Mirjam Clement, US, documentary, 20 minutes)
Told in his own words, and through puppetry, animation and mixed media, Academy Award-winning special effects and makeup artist Howard Berger reflects on his lifelong fascination of classic movie monsters.


9:00 pm – Friday Night Shorts — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmaker

Sweet Candy
(dir. Yilmaz Vurucu, Austria, narrative, 18 minutes)
Isolated and desperate, Andreas decides to air his grievances and commit suicide live on the internet. As his broadcast goes viral, he strikes a chord with some while attracting the disdain of other.

(dir. David Moya, UK, narrative, 15 minutes)
A white man arrives at the “Transition Centre” after dying of food poisoning on a cruise. There he is informed that he cannot be white in his next life.

Johnny Thinks
(dir. Malcolm Rumbles, UK, spoken word, 3 minutes)
In the poem, “What Johnny Thinks,” Johnny is a woman trying to fit into a society that rejects her. Warning: strong language.

Return Safely
(dir. Eric Burleson, US, narrative, 12 minutes)
A young traveler must complete her quest through a harsh landscape to return a mysterious object.

Purple Dreams
(dir. Murat Sayginer, Turkey, animation, 2 minutes)
An animated film about the transition from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.

The Manual
(dir. Wil Magness, US, narrative, 30 minutes)
In a distant future, James is the last human on Earth. Raised and protected by a humanoid robot, he is brought up on a religion ascribed in a device known as “The Manual.” As the search for other humans becomes more futile and his faith is shaken, James sets out to test one of The Manual’s core beliefs.




11:00 am – Saturday Morning Shorts — BUY TICKETS

Lunch Time
(dir. Alireza Ghasemi, Iran, narrative, 15 minutes)
A 16-year-old girl is forced to deal with the responsibility and harsh bureaucracy of identifying the body of her mother.

A Month
(dir. Zgjim Terziqi, Kosovo, narrative, 26 minutes)
Based on a true story, Ana is a quiet, unmarried 40-year-old blind woman who lives month to month with each of her four sisters, who collect government assistance for her care.

The Guy Came on Horseback
(dir. Hossein Rabiei Dastjerdi, Iran, narrative, 15 minutes)
Set in rural Iran, a father must figure out what to do when he realizes his disabled son has fallen in love with their neighbor’s daughter.

Cup of Tea
(dir. Jitendra Rai, India, narrative, 3 minutes)
A young photographer chases a child who has grabbed her bag through the jungle, until he reaches his village, and she finds something unexpected.

Wintry Spring
(dir. Mohamed Kamel, Egypt, narrative, 15 minutes)
Nour lives alone with her father and finds herself in crisis when she hits puberty and can’t tell him.

(dir. João Inácio, Brazil, narrative, 10 minutes)
A young boy who has a hard time getting adopted from the orphanage creates an imaginary friendship with his only toy, a doll named Shala.

Pale Mirrors
(dir. Salem Salavati, Iran, narrative, 15 minutes)
Shawbo finds herself with only 24 hours to become pregnant. Grasping at her last opportunity to be a mother, she visits the city prison.



1:15 pm – Saturday Afternoon Documentaries — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmakers

People First
(dir. Chelsea LoCascio, US, documentary, 5 minutes)
Students with disabilities at The College of New Jersey share their stories.

One Mother’s Fire: The Gail Minger Story
(dir. Diana Nicolae, US, documentary, 26 minutes)
After her son died in a fire at Murray State University in Kentucky, Gail Minger has not stopped searching for answers, uncovering negligence, forcing accountability, and fighting for change that can save other lives.

Gold Mettle
(dir. Nicholas Carney, US, documentary, 30 minutes)
Every year Villanova University hosts one of the largest Special Olympics competitions in the nation. Athletes from the Delaware County soccer team share the challenges they face on a daily basis, both on and off the playing field.

Hope Works Here: A Camden Story
(dir. Peter Prokop, US, documentary, 28 minutes)
Three students in Camden, NJ try to overcome their turbulent pasts and rewrite their future at HopeWorks, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education, counseling and entrepreneurship to young people.


3:45 pm – Saturday Afternoon Shorts — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmakers

(dir. Ambarien Alqadar, India, narrative, 19 minutes)

When her father encounters a US veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress, Ayesha is forced to change her weekend plans with her boyfriend.

The Last Visit
(dir. Mark Clauburg, US, narrative, 19 minutes)
An accidental meeting between a recently widowed man and a young girl ends up changing both their lives.

Walk On
(dir. Megan Rossman, US, documentary, 13 minutes)
Cecilia is not your average college student. Diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome at age 13, she has been working to persevere despite her little-known disability.

The Scary Ham
(dir. Sue Mroz, US, narrative, 15 minutes)
Two sisters sort through 50 years of family memorabilia after the death of their father, and try to figure out how contend with his beloved ham.

I Promised Her Life
(dir. Robert Nazar Arjoyan, US, narrative, 15 minutes)
On the day of her daughter’s funeral, a grieving Armenian-American mother defies a centuries-old ritual and tests the limits of tradition.

Eggs and Soldiers
(dir. Imelda O’Reilly, US, narrative, 20 minutes)
A single dad gets drunk and forgets the tree on Christmas Eve. Ned, the older son, sets out to make things right and give his younger brother Marco a real Irish Christmas.


6:00 pm – Saturday Evening Shorts — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmakers

(dir. Matthew Gentile, US, narrative, 13 minutes)
1875, Indian Territory. Bass Reeves is the first African-American to be deputized by the US Marshal Service. While bringing two outlaws to justice, Bass begins to question his idea of justice and choosing to fight for a country that may never fight for him.

(dir. Yassen Genadiev, Bulgaria, narrative, 20 minutes)
Mikhail is a meticulous supervisor of a residential building near the Black Sea. His monotonous life is about to be shaken up by a new neighbor, the young and extroverted Evelina.

King Kong
(dir. Lo Xu-Ming Tong, Canada, narrative, 19 minutes)
When their mother suffers an accident, teenager Eliza must take responsibility for traveling with her younger brother Damian to Montreal to join their father.

D for Docs
(dir. Joe Sikoryak, US, narrative, 15 minutes)
Professor Marty is a documentary film teacher who thinks he has the worst class ever. Now he has to explain himself to the department chair who has come to watch his students’ final projects.

Death of an Umbrella Salesman
(dir. Steve Herold, US, narrative, 18 minutes)
A day in the life of a door-to-door umbrella salesman.

(dir. Amie Batalibasi, Australia, narrative, 19 minutes)
A young South Sudanese aspiring actress works late nights at a bar and meets an older man at a crisis point in his life. They spend a night walking around together in Melbourne, two people from different worlds who find an unlikely connection.


8:15 pm – Saturday Night Feature — BUY TICKETS

Take My Hand
(dir. Francesco Siro Brigiano, Italy, experimental, 4 minutes)
An abstract autobiographical and emotional journey. The pursuit of a visionary language, personal and poetic.

(dir. Faraz Arif Ansari, India, narrative, 15 minutes)
In a country where homosexuality is a crime, two men find themselves slowly and silently falling in love through movements and glances on the busy Mumbai train system.

Dad is Pretty (dir. Park soo-min, Korea, narrative, 92 minutes)
Middle-aged salesman Duk-jae is ignored by his wife and daughter at home and shown no respect at work. When he is given a liquor contract that no other colleagues want — for a cross-dressing club called “Hawaii” — he finds a new “family” who help him reconnect with his own.



12:30 pm – Panel Discussion: Perspectives in Storytelling — FREE

Join us for a look at how filmmakers explore communities and people both as insiders and outsiders. Hear about how they navigate the process of telling a story that is not their own. This event will feature filmmakers with films in this year’s festival, and is open to the public.

Panelists: Purcell Carson, documentary filmmaker and editor; Cory Choy, director of “The Best Little Coffeehouse in Maryland;” and Jeff Stewart, director of “The Ballad of Craig Kelly”

2:00 pm – Sunday Feature Documentary — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmakers

The Best Little Coffeehouse in Maryland
(dir. Cory Choy, US, documentary, 18 minutes)

Inwood House, the only apartment building in the US that is both Section 8 and dedicated to people with disabilities, is home to a monthly musical coffeehouse like no other.

The Organizer
(dir. Nick Taylor, US, documentary, 100 minutes)
A portrait of Wade Rathke, the controversial founder of ACORN, which had been the largest community organization in the US before its infamous demise following several highly publicized scandals. Through archival footage and interviews, the film follows how ACORN grew to be a national powerhouse and how internal and external pressures led to its downfall.


4:30 pm – Sunday Afternoon Shorts — BUY TICKETS

Followed by Q&A with filmmakers

The Ballad of Craig Kelly
(dir. Jeff Stewart, US, narrative, 8 minutes)
Based on the life of actor Craig Kelly, this semi-autobiographical short is a stream of consciousness narrative of a lonely man coming to terms with past, present and future mistakes.

The Poet
(dir. Adam Cushman, US, spoken word, 6 minutes)
An inspired Beat-era poet takes the stage.

North & Nowhere
(dir. Scott Ballard, US, narrative, 12 minutes)
A girl, a gun, and a last chance. Devan moves back home to care for her father, who has suffered a stroke. When her sister puts him in a care facility, it’s up to Devan and her friend Kyle to get him out by any means necessary.

(dir. Rosemarie Wilson, US, spoken word, 8 minutes)
PHAT Girl is a testament to women becoming comfortable in their own skin, flaws and all, and owning it.

Alpha Fish
(dir. Roger An, US, animation, 9 minutes)
Rodrigo, a charismatic talking goldfish, has had enough of his hapless owner Conner. Tired of performing tricks for snacks, Rodrigo has his sights on Bianca, a beautiful marine biologist.

The Dinner Scene
(dir. Nicholas Thurkettle, US, narrative, 10 minutes)
A solitary screenwriter in a café battles frustration and self-doubt to craft the most dramatically juicy scene between a couple at dinner that she can.

Expiration Date
(dir. Shunya Chang, US, animation, 4 minutes)
A poetic animated story about searching for an unexpired romance.

Jimmy Scalia: An Honest Portrait
(dir. Anthony Scalia, US, documentary, 6 minutes)
School janitor and Bobby Darin archivist, Jimmy Scalia, reflects on his life as he approaches a milestone transition.

(dir. Fred Zara, US, narrative, 16 minutes)
Eight lives intersect at a typical coffee shop one afternoon. Some are enjoying a fresh new start, some are at a crossroads, and others may be in the midst of a painful ending.

Frieda and Eddie, A Jersey Shore Love Story
(dir. Jennifer Suwak & Stephen Abruzzese, US, documentary, 24 minutes)
Frieda and Eddie met at the Jersey Shore in 1942 and dated until Eddie was drafted into the service for World War II. Separated for 50 years, they married other people and had families of their own. After both of their spouses died, they reconnected and found it’s never too late for love.


6:30 pm

Closing Night Reception and Award Ceremony — FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Join us for a reception following the last screening. Prizes will be awarded at the Closing Night Ceremony for:

James Solheim Award for Best Film
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short
Best Narrative Feature
Best Narrative Short
Best Animated Film
Best New Media (Music Video, Spoken Word Poetry, New Media)
Audience Favorite

From Past Festivals

See the 2017 Trenton Film Festival winners
See the 2017 Trenton Film Festival schedule
See the 2016 Trenton Film Festival winners
See the 2016 Trenton Film Festival line-up
See TFS talk about the festival on Fistful of Popcorn
See the 2015 Trenton Film Festival line-up

See Trenton Film Festival on Fistful of Popcorn
See the 2015 Trenton Film Festival winners
See the 2014 Trenton Film Festival winners