May 6, 2020

Local Filmmaker’s Documentary To be Aired on Public TV

SPIRITUAL STORY: A scene from the filming of “Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries,” produced by the Gardner Group, headed by Princeton resident Janet Gardner. The documentary will air on NJTV on May 14 at 8 p.m. and on WNYC on May 26 at 11 p.m.

The history, deep faith, and enduring impact of the Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers, are the subject of Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries, a new documentary produced by the Gardner Documentary Group, which is headed by Janet Gardner of Princeton.

The film will air on NJTV on Thursday, May 14 at 8 p.m., and on WNYC on Tuesday, May 26 at 11 p.m.

The 57-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. Yet, as a relatively small denomination of less than 400,000, their influence far outweighs their numbers.

With this year’s centennial observance of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, the role of Quakers in some of the nation’s most historic movements and conflicts comes into focus through interviews, archival footage, and dramatizations. The film follows the faith’s history from the United Kingdom, where it was illegal to be a Quaker, to America, where they found religious freedom, economic opportunity, and an evolving nation ripe for their activism.

The film travels to locations in the U.K., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, New York, and Indiana that figure prominently in Quaker history. Producer/Director Gardner began planning the documentary in 2012 after visiting Pendle Hill in Lancashire, U.K., where George Fox started the religion in the 1600s.

“As a filmmaker, I have always been interested in revealing hidden histories, and this was a huge story crying out to be told,” Gardner said. “I felt Quakers were underserved – that few people other than Quakers themselves knew much about them, because they didn’t proselytize. A narrative on their history would reveal something unique – a marriage between activism and spirituality.”

The film won the Flickers’ International Humanitarian Award Grand Prize at the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival; the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at the New Hope (Pa.) Film Festival; and Honorable Mention from the New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University.