2017 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:
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
(Israel, Dir. Tomer Heymann)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Owsia (Darkened Water)
(Iran, Dir. Alireza Dehghan)
BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
(US, Dir. Dax Phelan)
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
(US, Dir. Ted Schneider)
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT, HONORABLE MENTION
Pasquale’s Magic Veal
(US, Dir. D.J. Higgins)
BEST ANIMATED FILM
(US, Dir. Gung-Kai Koo)
BEST NEW MEDIA
Can You Decide
(Italy, Lu Pulici)
(US, Dir. Amy Frear)
JAMES SOLHEIM AWARD FOR BEST FILM
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
(Israel, Dir. Tomer Heymann and Barak Heymann)
THURSDAY, MARCH 30
7:00 pm – Opening Night Feature
Can You Decide
(dir. Lu Pulici, Italy, 5 minutes)
In this music video featuring UK singer songwriter Jon Kenzie, a lonely robot musician struggles between the desire to travel and play music throughout the galaxy or go back home to be with the one he loves.
(dir. Stuart McBratney, Australia, 91 minutes)
“Pop-Up” is a triptych of stories about people affected by one event. An unemployed father finds a camera containing a single photo of a woman’s face. Smitten, he tracks her down. A Romanian immigrant attempts to overcome her heartbreak by giving away a thousand home-made pop-up cards. A sleep-deprived theater director seeks deadly revenge on a scathing critic.
FRIDAY, MARCH 31
7:00 pm – Friday Night Feature
Summer Park – Q&A with director Michael Benko
(dir. Michael Benko, China, 15 minutes)
After the death of her parents, 17-year-old Summer takes to stealing as an outlet for her harsh life. She finds solace in the company of Park, a good-hearted teenager who obsessively records conversations on a tape-recorder, and the pair go on a wild adventure through the outskirts of Beijing.
(dir. Dax Phelan, US, 80 minutes)
A year after his wife’s murder, once-successful Hong Kong businessman Leonard To is still reeling from the tragedy. Having lost his job, friends, and all sense of order in his life, Leonard becomes obsessed with a mysterious stranger he sees at his wife’s grave, believing him to be responsible for her death.
9:00 pm – Suspense/Horror Shorts
(dir. Elias Ressegatti, US, 8 minutes)
A young man is about to drastically alter the course of his life. As he contemplates going through with an armed robbery, he is haunted by repeating visions of what could go wrong.
(dir. Alex Clark, Canada, 14 minutes)
A lone man is terrorized by a masked burglar late one night, but the intruder soon realizes that the man’s house is not what it seems.
Stitched – Q&A with writer/director Heather Taylor
(dir. Heather Taylor, US, 4 minutes)
A sheltered woman, reeling from the death of her mother, shows her sister how far she will go to be heard.
(dir. Fraser Watson, UK, 7 minutes)
A mysterious woman finds an unplanned, unwanted guest.
Wicked Conclusions – Q&A with director Philip G. Carroll and actress Chloe Hendrickson
(dir. Phillip G. Carroll Jr., US, 13 minutes)
A young woman chained up in her boyfriend’s basement must decide who the real monster is – her captor or the little boy imprisoned beside her.
SATURDAY, APRIL 1
12:00 pm – Narrative and Documentary Shorts
Before Christmas – Q&A with director Chuyao (Abigail) He
(dir. Chuyao He, US, 15 minutes)
A poor Chinese family tries to find opportunity in a big city. 18-year-old Xiao Lee and his father work at a Christmas decoration factory, but Xiao Lee has hopes of becoming a singer and decides to make a change to pursue his dream.
Nobody Dies Here
(dir. Simon Panay, France, 23 minutes)
A documentary about the Perma gold mine in Benin. Some dream of finding something, others realize there’s nothing to be found. Some dig relentlessly hoping to become rich, others die in the process.
Extra 1104 – The Story of the Rockport Train Wreck
(dir. John General, US, 21 minutes)
Steaming fifty people to death, the 1925 train wreck of Extra 1104 still stands as one of the most disastrous train wrecks in New Jersey. For over 90 years, the full story of this tragedy remained largely untold. This documentary sets out to reveal what really happened on the fateful night that put courage, selflessness, and pure heroism to a true test.
1:30 pm – Documentary Shorts
Owsia (Darkened Water)
(dir. Alireza Dehghan, Iran, 30 minutes)
The aqueduct of Yazd, Iran has supplied the city with water for 2500 years. This documentary short reveals how it is now rotting away due to pollution and bureaucracy.
Memories of Warsaw
(dir. Robert Webster, Netherlands, 41 minutes)
Dutch painter Robert Webster studied from 1967 to 1969 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2015 he returned to Warsaw in search of his former sources of inspiration, showing the atmosphere of the communist period through his paintings, prints, and drawings.
3:15 pm – Narrative and Animated Shorts
You Deserve Everything
(dir. Goran Stolevski, UK, 18 minutes)
A doctor’s tentative romance with the hospital’s Arabic interpreter is evolving into something deeper. But everything is not as it seems.
(dir. Nick LeDonne, US, 6 minutes)
In this abstract animated documentary based on the filmmaker’s personal struggle with suicidal thoughts, feelings of depression are personified through a dark luring fog and a loving mother desperately trying to keep her son alive.
Gardening at Night
(dir. Shayna Connelly, US, 12 minutes)
Samantha is powerless to help her friend Anne, who on the eve of her death, has not come to terms with her fate and remains angry and afraid. Waiting by the phone and not being able to bear the stillness, Samantha tries to put her neglected garden in order, despite the darkness.
(dir. Christian Washington, US, 5 minutes)
In this animated short film, two brothers grow up in a home where the parental structure suddenly falls apart. Sometimes the people in our lives who are hardest to love end up being the most important people we should cherish.
Everything We Wanted
(dir. Goran Stolevski, UK, 25 minutes)
A formerly wealthy cleaning woman comes face to face with the schoolgirl who derailed her life. They are each forced to face the difficult events that first brought them together.
5:00 pm – Saturday Feature Documentary #1 — BUY TICKETS
Aranceri – Battle of the Oranges – Q&A with cinematographer Clement Morin
(dir. Erasmus Talbot, Sweden, 23 minutes)
The Battle of the Oranges is a unique carnival held each year in Ivrea, Italy. Celebrating the 12th century revolt of the people against a local tyrant, for three days the main squares in the old town become a temporary battleground for thousands of orange throwers. The film follows three of these combatants – their stories and their love for the orange battle.
(dir. Zeljko M. Mirkovic, Serbia, 74 minutes)
Though now poor and deserted, Rogljevo, Serbia was incredibly prosperous a century ago, producing wines found at exhibitions in Bordeaux and Paris. When a French family moves in to grow grapes and produce wine, they believe they have discovered a promised land, one of the top five wine regions in Europe. Their arrival sparks high hopes with some villagers – and great resistance and mistrust with others.
7:15 pm – Saturday Feature Documentary #2
Live from the Grave with Dedgar
(dir. Walter Skold, US, 26 minutes)
This documentary short follows Dedgar the Poemobile on an epic, 7-year journey to over 500 poets’ graves. Traveling in the footsteps of Kerouac, Kesey, and Steinbeck, Dedgar spends life on the road driving to cemeteries across the land, resurrecting dead poets with the help of the living.
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
(dir. Tomer Heymann, Israel, 85 minutes)
Saar has never fulfilled his parents’ expectations. Ever since he defied the rules of his kibbutz seventeen years ago, as far as his family is concerned, he simply does not exist. He left Israel to live freely as a gay man in London. Diagnosed with HIV and forced to rethink his life, Saar has finally found a home singing in the London Gay Men’s Chorus where music is giving him the courage for a reunion with his family. This documentary provides a sensitive, humorous and charming record of how the now forty-year-old protagonist and his estranged parents and siblings set off to confront their disagreements and fears.
SUNDAY, APRIL 2
12:45 pm – We the Voters: Films for the People — FREE
We the Voters is a social impact campaign designed to inspire and activate audiences by presenting the subjects of democracy, elections, and U.S. governance through a series of films. In this program, we present 8 short films from the We the Voters campaign to help foster dialogue surrounding important issues unfolding across America.
We Americans are stuck in social media news bubbles that block exposure to opposing points of view. Here you’ll get concrete advice from leading media experts on how to break free and get fully informed. Narrated by Glynn Washington.
Citizen Next (5:16)
What motivates the approximately 4.6 million Latino immigrants eligible for citizenship, most of whom claim Mexico as a country of origin, to seek citizenship… or not? Follow the challenges facing Latino immigrants on their path towards citizenship, into the voting booth and beyond.
#Founding Fathers (4:42)
Politicians argue over the Constitution. Luckily Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison take time out of their afterlives to answer the question: “what would the Founding Fathers do?” Starring Harold Perrineau, Mario Cantone, and Ana Ortiz.
Mission Insurable (3:25)
Secret Agent Brink must escape the villain’s lair in time to register for healthcare or have his fingers broken, which will stick him with thousands of dollars in medical costs. Many Americans know how he feels: tortured to debt.
Disrupt Lobbying (5:54)
Our inept but intrepid reporter, Josh Horowitz, enters the heart of darkness, aka Washington, D.C., planning to expose the corrupt lobbyists perverting our democracy. They exist, but he meets some lobbyists who break the stereotypes.
The Future of Social Security (4:57)
Social Security is a ‘pay-it-forward’ system that will theoretically benefit all of us. Fixes were made to take care of the retiring baby boomers, but what about millennials? Can they rely on government help in retirement?
Run Rep Run (5:00)
A day in the life of a first-time, millennial, Latina politician in a small New England city. This documentary shows how change starts at the grassroots level and grows with hard work. What would it take for you to make a difference in your town?
Why We March (4:57)
The right to assemble and speak out is written in the constitution. But do rallies and civil disobedience really provoke policy changes? We meet the people who take to the streets to “rage against the machine” and “speak truth to power.”
1:30 pm – Panel Discussion on Social Issues Filmmaking — FREE
Join us for an insightful discussion with local filmmakers interested in bringing to light social issues through their work.
Purcell Carson is a documentary filmmaker and editor. As an editor, she’s served as a lead creative partner on long-form documentaries, including the Oscar-winning Smile Pinki and the 2011 Semper Fi: Always Faithful, which won best-editing from the Tribeca Film Festival. As director, she was awarded a MacDowell Fellowship for her feature debut, Among the Perishable, a multi-character portrait of the global banana industry and has begun a series of shorts exploring the Guatemalan community in New Jersey. Purcell teaches a seminar in urban studies and film at Princeton University, where she is project director of a multi-year community-based documentary project, The Trenton Project. Purcell studied literature and history at Brown University, and received her Master’s from Stanford University.
Katherine Elisabeth Clark is a writer-director (and occasional art director), and co-founder of PopUp Anthology, a community organization created to promote local films and to encourage audiences to support local storytelling. After receiving her MFA from Columbia College Chicago, she moved to Princeton where she started her production company, Dangerous Person Productions. Katherine is currently developing her first feature, Pololia, a magical realist drama set in Hawaii and the Pacific, and attended Creative Lab Hawaii’s Writers Immersive Lab in March 2016.
Dan Preston is a documentary filmmaker and multimedia creator, and owner of Telequest, Inc., producing projects for nonprofits, education, and businesses. As a political activist, he seeks creative approaches to solving public issues. A graduate of Yale University, Dan is a former board member of the Trenton Film Society
Evelyn Tu is a videographer, editor, and producer, and owner of Flying Camel Media. She has shot and edited more than 150 documentary shorts, a feature-length documentary, and many other projects. She began her career as a journalist and has a masters in Media Studies from The New School. She recently joined the board of the Trenton Film Society.
3:45 pm – Narrative Shorts
Selkie – Q&A with director Amy Frear
(dir. Amy Frear, US, 8 minutes)
A wayward selkie (a seal that can turn itself into a human) has followed a school of herring up the Delaware river when her seal skin is captured by a man from the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia.
(dir. Zanyar Lotfi, Iran, 5 minutes)
A little girl just wants to do her homework, but when grandpa’s snores keep her little sibling from sleeping, things get a bit more complicated.
(dir. Lars Fuchs, US, 9 minutes)
Lars sets out to make a film about a mild-mannered man pushed to the limits by the hazards of life in the big city. But when the results aren’t as good as he’d hoped, Lars himself is pushed to the limit – and beyond – by his own worst enemy. Himself.
The Paper Rose
(dir. Nadia Fedchin, US, 9 minutes)
An awkward band teacher starts to date again four years after the passing of his beloved wife, but his teenage daughter disapproves.
(dir. Gloria Mercer, Canada, 13 minutes)
Sophie is an unmotivated comedian. When her estranged young daughter is unexpectedly thrust back into her life, Sophie’s plans have to be reshuffled. While they both struggle to adjust to the new environment, Sophie must come to terms with the fact that she’s in over her head.
Another Time – Q&A with director/actress Amy Frear
(dir. Amy Frear, US, 24 minutes)
A twenty-something woman who may or may not be a lost time traveler deals with commitment issues and indecision in present day Philadelphia.
5:30 pm – Spoken Word, Music, and Narrative Shorts
(dir. Derek Price, Canada, 3 minutes)
A spoken word piece by Sudanese-Canadian artist Roua Aljied, aka Philosi-fire, about the realities of domestic violence and how each step a woman takes is a new color to paint on the canvas of her life.
(dir. Jake Hunsicker, US, 3 minutes)
A short film about the how the human weaknesses of fear, hate, and distrust can be resolved by simple recognition.
(dir. Ted Schneider, US, 23 minutes)
At turns comic and reflective, a man recounts his stop-and-frisk arrest and the ripples it made in his life and close relationships, wrestling with how to place what happened to him within the current national dialogue on racial profiling.
(dir. B. Stephen Stockwell, US, 9 minutes)
In this mood piece, the music of Antonin Dvorak is played by the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Spalding. Maestro Spalding is also Music Director of the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey.
Pasquale’s Magic Veal – Q&A with director D. J. Higgins
(dir. D.J. Higgins, US, 21 minutes)
A dark comedy about a “magic piece of veal” that forces all who eat it to speak the truth. Starring Sopranos actors Vincent Pastore, Dan Grimaldi, and Artie Pasquale, it’s a Sopranos reunion that is anything but Sopranos.
6:30 pm – Closing Night Reception and Award Ceremony — OPEN TO ALL
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)
Thank you for a great 2016 Trenton Film Festival!
The 2016 festival featured 55 films from 16 countries, including documentaries, narrative films, spoken word, animation and music videos by filmmakers from as close as Trenton, Jersey City and New Hope to as far away as Romania, Iran and Korea.
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
From Past Festivals