TIFF: Storming Caesars Palace

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March 15, 2023
7:30pm Eastern Time
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Welcome to our 2023 series of films, presented through the continued partnership between TIFF, The Puffin Foundation Ltd., PBS, and Indie Lens Pop-Up, a neighborhood series that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. Featuring PBS Independent Lens documentaries, Indie Lens Pop-Up brings residents, leaders, and organizations together to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics and social issues, to family and community relationships.


After losing her job as a hotel worker in Las Vegas, Ruby Duncan co-founded a welfare rights group of ordinary mothers who defied notions of the “welfare queen.” In a fight for a universal basic income in 1969, Ruby and other equality activists took on the Nevada mob in organizing a massive protest that shut down Caesars Palace.


With the support of the nonprofit organization Puffin Foundation, Ltd., a small group of dedicated volunteers set out, more than 15 years ago, to create an event that would present a collection of compelling and imaginative feature-length films, documentaries, and shorts from a variety of cultures that would lead audiences to question, debate, and become caring and involved citizens who recognize the need to institute positive change. TIFF has found its niche on the film festival circuit, and, having been dubbed by the Star-Ledger, “the film festival with a social conscience,” is growing in reputation as well as numbers.

Video Descriptions

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10 MIN

TIFF Coming Soon

Free Chol Soo Lee | Official Trailer | Independent Lens | PBS

Premieres May 29, 2023. Check out all our docs: www.pbs.org/show/independent-lens/ Website: pbs.org/cholsoolee | #CholSooLeePBS Sentenced to life for a 1973 San Francisco murder, Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee was set free after a pan-Asian solidarity movement, which included Korean, Japanese, and Chinese Americans, helped to overturn his conviction. After 10 years of fighting for his life inside California state prisons, Lee found himself in a new fight to rise to the expectations of the people who believed in him. Learn more about Independent Lens: www.pbs.org/independentlens Facebook: www.facebook.com/independentlens Twitter: twitter.com/IndependentLens Instagram: www.instagram.com/independenlens INDEPENDENT LENS is America’s home for independent documentary film. Each week the award-winning series delivers engaging documentaries crafted by the industry’s boldest filmmakers. Independent Lens films have won 25 Emmy Awards, 23 Peabody Awards, eight duPont-Columbia University Awards, and have received 10 Academy Award nominations. Independent Lens received the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Continuing Series in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2022. #Documentary #FreeCholSooLee #Trailer

JL Intro SCP

21: Bergen County

Storming Caesars Palace

Storming Caesars Palace - IL PopUp

JL Outro SCP

60 minutes


  • Moderator Avatar
    Teaneck International Film Festival


  • Panelist Avatar
    Helen Archontou


    As Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Northern New Jersey since 2011, Helen Archontou is focused on guiding the agency into its next century of living its mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and strengthen communities. Helen has overseen the development of a continuum of programs to support women and families in every stage of life as well as to raise awareness and take action to end racial and social injustice. In 2019, under Helen’s leadership the organization expanded its service area to Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic in addition to Bergen County.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Hazel Gurland-Pooler


    Hazel Gurland-Pooler is a Colombian-born, NYC-based director/producer and documentary filmmaker. She directed 10 episodes of PBS's Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and co-produced the 6-hour The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, also with Gates Jr., which won Emmy, Peabody, duPont-Columbia, and NAACP Image awards. Storming Caesars Palace, her first feature-length documentary, will broadcast on PBS Independent Lens on March 20, 2023.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Sondra Phillips-Gilbert


    Sondra Phillips-Gilbert is a current Social Services Representative at the Department of Human Services/Economic Security Administration in Washington DC and a former elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who represented the Rosedale Community in Ward 6 for 10 years. She is the daughter of Ruby Duncan, the subject of Storming Caesars Palace, and continues the work of fighting for equity and improving the quality of life for our neighbors and community members.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Rhona Vega


    Rhona Vega is amulti-award-winning community leader and entrepreneur. As the founder and CEOof Parent MatterzTM, Rhona is a social disrupter, change agent, thought leader,dynamic motivational speaker, and success coach. She founded Imagine Me, an empowermentgroup that encourages women to focus on self-care and pursue their dreams.Rhona is the winner of the 2022 YWCA NNJ Racial Justice Award and the 2021YWomen Start It Up Pitch Competition. Parent MatterzTM has been featured on theBlack Information Network radio show sponsored by Geico and in the New JerseyPBS docu series 21. Rhona is a founding member of Teaneck Tea Talks, which wascreated by African American and Orthodox Jewish women to hold space forcourageous conversations. Rhona truly adores her husband, Dr. Victor Vega, and theirfive children and enjoys traveling the world. Book Rhona as an educationalconsultant, inspirational public speaker or creator of your school's nextOpportunity ExpoTM.

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.