NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - "Quakers - The Quiet Revolutionaries," a new documentary by Rocky Hill filmmaker Janet Gardner will have its New Jersey premiere in the spring 2019 New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8.
The screening will take place in Voorhees Hall, 71 Hamilton St. Tickets range from $9 to $12. The program will include a post-screening discussion with the filmmaker and others from the film.
"Quakers - The Quiet Revolutionaries," richly illuminates the history, deep faith and wide-ranging impact of the Quakers from their founding as the Religious Society of Friends in 17th-century England through their present-day environmental and economic activism.
Released last summer, the film garnered the Flickers' International Humanitarian Award Grand Prize at the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival in August. The prize is "given annually to films or filmmakers who inspire social change and community outreach and strive to better the world in which we live." It also won the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at its premiere screening at the New Hope (Pa.) Film Festival in July 2018.
From women’s suffrage to civil rights and environmental justice to pacifism, the Quakers have left their mark on America and the world. Yet, as a relatively small denomination of less than 400,000, their influence far outweighs their numbers.
"Quakers - The Quiet Revolutionaries," brings this iconic, yet often unheralded, faith into focus through interviews, archival footage and dramatizations. The film follows its history from the United Kingdom, where it was illegal to be a Quaker, to America, where Quakers found religious freedom, economic opportunity and an evolving nation ripe for their activism.
The 79-minute film tells the story of a spiritual movement that has played a remarkable role in the religious, social and political life of our nation. Demonstrating an influence disproportionate to their numbers, Quakers have led anti-slavery, civil rights and women’s rights movements and been strong advocates for world peace.
The film travels to locations in the U.K., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, New York and Indiana that figure prominently in the Quakers’ history. Quakers opens with present-day father-daughter activists George and Ingrid Lakey, founders of Philadelphia’s Earth Quaker Action Team. They led a successful campaign to get PNC Bank to discontinue financing mountaintop-removal coal mining that pollutes the water and disfigures the landscape.
The Quakers’ far-reaching impact is illustrated through their most significant causes and the people who helped lead them, from William Penn to the Lakeys. The abolition movement awakened the country to the inhumanity of slavery. The women’s suffrage movement won the vote for women thanks to the shrewd leadership of Quakers Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott. Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin brought the concept of nonviolent protest to Martin Luther King Jr., while Quakers practiced principled pacifism and humanitarianism during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War.
The film doesn’t gloss over contradictions, however, including the Quakers’ reluctance to integrate their own schools and meetings while at the same time advocating for civil rights, as well as their role in developing the practice of solitary confinement in prison. The film takes on the two Quaker presidents – Herbert Hoover, who denied government aid to impoverished Americans during the Depression and Richard Nixon, whose role in prolonging the Vietnam War belied the pacifist principles of his Quaker faith.
Producer/Director Janet Gardner began planning the documentary in 2012 after visiting Pendle Hill in Lancashire, U.K., where George Fox first had a vision of “a great people to be gathered.” The steep green mountain, shrouded in fog, is one of the film’s stunning locations.
Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries is narrated by Richard Nurse, who also served as senior producer.
Partial funding for the production was provided by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the New Jersey Historical Commission.
Janet Paxton Gardner founded The Gardner Group, Inc., in 1990 to direct and produce documentaries that emphasize the human experience in the context of historic events. Film credits include the NEH-funded Mechanic to Millionaire: The Peter Cooper Story, which won a CINE Golden Eagle in 2010; Lost Child –Sayon’s Journey, which was broadcast on New York’s THIRTEEN/WNET and on other public television stations across the country through American Public Television; Precious Cargo, produced in association with ITVS (PBS/ National Geographic Channels International); Dancing Through Death (PBS/ STAR-TV); Emmy-nominated A World Beneath the War (PBS/ Discovery Channels International); and The Last Ghost of War (PBS/PBS International).
Gardner’s documentaries have received national and international awards from the International Documentary Association, National Education Media Network, CINE, Casey Journalism Center and The Society of Professional Journalists and its Deadline Club.
Gardner began her career as a field producer, film editor and news writer for NBC News and WNBC-TV, WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.) and CBS News. As a print journalist, she was a feature writer for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and contributed to The New York Times (New Jersey correspondent), Philadelphia Inquirer, and Boston Globe. Gardner is an alumna of New York University’s Graduate Institute of Film and Television (now Tisch School of the Arts) and Cooper Union.
Richard Nurse is the former executive director of the Crossroads Theatre Company and served as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Education for Rutgers University. He was also the first African American headmaster of a New England boarding school, the Stockbridge School in West Stockbridge, Mass. Nurse holds degrees from Brown University and the University of Rhode Island.
For further information and to view the trailer, visit quakersthefilm.com. For more information on The Gardner Documentary Group, visit gardnerdocgroup.com or call 212- 279-5611. For more information about the festival, go to njfilmfest.com.