2022 Boston Jewish Film Festival – Guests

Violeta Salama, Writer/DirectorAlegria

Violeta Salama has a Jewish father and Christian mother. She graduated in Audiovisual Communication from Madrid’s Complutense University and then obtained a Masters in Creative Documentaries from Barcelona’s Autonomous University. She then moved to Vancouver in 2007 to pursue postgraduate studies in film production at Vancouver’s Film School. In Canada, she started to work in second production units for shows like The L world and Smallville. In 2009, she returned to Madrid to work in a direction team making TV series like Crematorio, and Amar en tiempos revueltos. Violeta then moved on to cinema under Antonio Chavarrías, working as executive assistant in Dictado, which she followed up with Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves and Xabier Villaverde’s El sexo de los ángeles. In 2013, Jaime Rosales included some scenes she had directed in his film Hermosa juventud. As a scriptwriter she has worked with directors like Manolo Martín Cuenca and Mateo Gil.

Erin Trahan, ModeratorAlegria

Erin Trahan has reported on and reviewed film and television with an emphasis on independent filmmaking and exhibition in New England for the last two decades, including as a contributor to WBUR since 2013. She also teaches in Emerson College’s journalism and media arts departments. She has always been fascinated by the artistic process and loves to talk with filmmakers about how and why they made their films.

Desirée Abeyta, Director, Anne

Desirée Abeyta is a Telly Award winning actor, filmmaker, and producer, known for exploring social and feminist themes through a hopeful lens. Her debut short film, An Invitation to Tea, was one of 5 recipients of the “Inwood Artworks Filmmaker Grant” in 2019 and has since received several awards including: multiple Audience Choice, Best New Director, and Excellence in Filmmaking awards at various festivals. She has been described as a strong visual artist drawn to diverse and engaging storytelling. She currently moonlights as a senior producer with Vox Media.

Maurizius Staerkle Drux, DirectorThe Art of Silence

Maurizius Staerkle Drux was born in Cologne in 1988 and grew up in Zurich. In 2012 he graduated in film directing at the ZHdK, specialising in sound design. His debut film THE BÖHM FAMILY – CONCRETE LOVE was shown in over 30 countries and won multiple awards. Since 2017, he has been imparting his passion for film and sound, as a lecturer at the Zurich University of the Arts.

Louis Chevalier, Film subjectThe Art of Silence

Louis Chevalier was born in 2002. He is the grandson of Marcel Marceau. Today he is 20 years old and wants to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps after studying dance in Toulouse and Marseille.

Gabriel Bier Gislason, Writer/DirectorAttachment

Gabriel Bier Gislason is a writer/director from Copenhagen. Based out of London and New York for over a decade, he recently returned to his native Denmark after graduating with an MFA from New York University. His first feature, ATTACHMENT, a Danish-UK horror romance steeped in Jewish mythology, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022, followed by a number of other festivals, incl. Outfest, Fantastic Fest and the BFI London Film Festival. It is distributed by Shudder in North America.

Michal Weits, DirectorBlue Box

Michal Weits is an Israeli documentary director and producer, studied at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School. Former head producer of the leading Israeli documentary Channel 8 (HOT network), in charge of highly acclaimed films: “The Law in These Parts”, “5 Broken Cameras”, “The Flat”, and many more. In 2013 Weits Founded ‘Tape Runners’, an independent production company. ‘Tape Runners’ titles include: Production: “WALL” (director: Moran Ifergan), winner for the best documentary, DocAviv film festival 2017. Distribution: “The Decent One”, “No Place on Earth” and more. BLUE BOX is Weits’ debut film as a director.

Rami Weits, Film subjectBlue Box

Rami Weits, born in March 1953 in Haifa, Israel. Rami joined Israeli TV at the age of 22 as a news reporter. Later on, he started to work at the sport department and since then he is one of Israel’s leading sport commentators and anchors. Weits is also an editor and producer. Weits has 4 children and lives near Jerusalem.

Moshe Rosenthal, Director, Karaoke

Moshe Rosenthal is an Israeli filmmaker and a graduate of The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. He writes and directs films, commercials, television and web. His short film Shabaton (2016) won Best Director Award at Jerusalem Film Festival and Best Short at Zlin Film Festival. His short film Our Way Back (2018) was nominated for the Israeli Academy Awards, and was theatrically released in Israel.

Karaoke, his feature directorial debut, was nominated for 14 Ophirs at the 2022 Ophir Awards, winning 4.

Sasson Gabay, Actor, Karaoke

An award-winning Baghdad-born Israeli actor, Sasson Gabay is known for his roles on screen and stage, including as the lead actor of the Beit Lessin Theatre Company’s productions of “Uncle Vanya,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and “Rain Man,” as well as the Habima National Theatre’s production of “Cyrano De Bergerac.”

In 2010, he won the Ophir Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Polishuk. His 2014 role in Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem, directed by the late ASF Pomegranate Award honoree, Ronit Elkabetz, garnered the Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2014. Other feature credits include: Rambo III opposite Sylvester Stallone, Hunting Elephants, and Restoration. His television credits include: Stockholm, Betoolot, Netflix’s Shtisel, and many more.

He recently starred opposite Katrina Lenk in the Broadway musical, The Band’s Visit, reprising his iconic role from the 2007 eponymous feature film opposite the late Ronit Elkabetz, for which he won several awards, including the European Film Award for Best Actor. He can now be seen starring alongside Toby Kebbell in Netflix’s feature film, The Angel, portraying the role of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

This year, he was awarded his fourth Ophir Award for his performance in Karaoke.

Saskia Diesing, DirectorLost Transport

Saskia Diesing was educated in Audiovisual Media at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU), graduating in 1996. Afterwards, she worked for seven years as programme maker, compiler and editor-in-chief at VPRO. Her short TV film Du (2002) was selected for the Prix Europa. After this, she directed several short films and TV films.

In 2014, her first feature film Nena premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival where she was awarded a Golden Calf for Best Direction. Besides her work as director and screenplay writer, she teaches Fiction Directing and Documentary at the faculty of Art Media and Technology at the HKU.

Hanna van Vliet, ActorLost Transport

Hanna van Vliet studied Drama and Contemporary Music Theatre at Amsterdam University of the Arts, where she graduated in 2014. A Golden Calf nominated actress and creator, she plays the lead role in the internationally acclaimed drama series, ANNE+, which she co-created. ANNE+ has received two nominations for the Prix Europe award as well as a Golden Calf award for van Vliet as “Best Actress in a Drama Series” at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2020. A feature version of ANNE+ with van Vliet in the leading role premiered in October 2021.

Her career also includes two nominations for a Musical Award for Fiddler on the Roof and De Tweeling. Her recent work includes the lead roles in the features Quicksand, which premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival in September 2021 and Lost Transport. She is currently filming the high-end drama series, De Droom van de Jeugd. Van Vliet is an advocate for a broad representation of female leads and queer characters in the Dutch film and TV landscape.

Pratibha Parmar, Writer/DirectorMy Name is Andrea

Pratibha Parmar has an exemplary track record as a director of vision for her pioneering documentaries and dramas. An award-winning filmmaker and a human rights activist, her work has received international recognition and widely exhibited at film festivals, art galleries and on BBC and PBS. Her bold and visually arresting films explore and capture untold stories often on the margins. Pratibha was awarded the ICON award at the London Indian Film Festival in 2017, honored with The Visionary Award from the One in Ten Film Festival and is a past winner of the Frameline Film Festival Life Time Achievement Award. Pratibha’s doc, Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth (2014) was broadcast on American Masters on PBS, kicking off Black History month. The film received the Jury Award at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Pratibha is a member of DGA, AMPAS, a Sundance Institute Alum and CEO at Kali Films.

Betsy More, Moderator, My Name is Andrea

Betsy More is the JWA’s Director of Programs. She earned her Ph.D. in history in 2012 from Harvard University, where her research focused on the history of work and motherhood in the United States. She has taught widely in American history, American studies, and women’s and gender studies. She is a recipient of fellowships including the Mellon/ACLS Early Career Research Fellowship and the Women and Public Policy Fellowship from the Harvard Kennedy School. Most recently, she served as the Director of Open Circle Jewish Learning at Hebrew College. She lives in Belmont, MA with her husband and daughter.

Sara Yacobi-Harris, DirectorPeriphery

Sara Yacobi-Harris is a filmmaker, media professional and educator. She has been making films since 2016 with a particular interest in exploring and capturing intersectional identity and belonging using spoken word, movement and dance as forms of expression. In 2017, she produced and directed Who is a Jew?, a documentary exploring the cultural experiences of Black Jews and Jews of Color in Toronto. Her latest project, Periphery is a continuation of exploring multi-racial Jewish experiences with a portrait series that premiered at the JCC Prosserman in Toronto, Ontario and a short film that accompanies the series. Sara has worked at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) unscripted department. She holds a Masters of Education (M.Ed) in Social Justice Education from the University of Toronto. She has guest lectured at Toronto Metropolitan University and her work has been featured in BlogTO, The Times of Israel, Ynet and The Forward.

Vera Wagman, Director/Producer, Petit Rat

Vera Wagman has directed short films including Interlude (Hypnotic Films/Sundance Channel, and Montreal, Boston, Dances with Films and Clermont-Ferrand Film Festivals), High Noon (PBS’ “Are We On”) and Jeopardy, a documentary short about an at-risk youth program in Los Angeles where the students train as boxers and dancers. Vera started her career as a dancer with company credits including David Storey/NY and Pennsylvania Dance Theatre where she worked with such innovative choreographers as Ohad Naharin and Nina Weiner. She has produced arts events for Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Division and choreographed MARCH, an original play produced by the LGBT Center and Playwright’s Arena in Los Angeles. Petit Rat, her family documentary, can currently be seen on PBS.

Deborah Wagman, Film subject, Petit Rat

Deborah Wagman is a former professional ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre II and Ballet West. After leaving the ballet world, she ventured into the world of Latin Ballroom dancing where she studied with ballroom champion Matt Hauer. For the last 21 years, Deborah has been teaching the Pilates Method to people of all ages and is certified in bodyART™, a strength and movement training workout. Teaching Ballet and Pilates to dancers has been a most meaningful way of connecting with her students and relaying her deep knowledge of dance and movement to the next generation of artists. Deborah is the proud mother of her two sons, Ari and Daniel.

Derek Goldman, Writer/Director, Remember This

Derek Goldman is the chair of Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts and director of the Theater and Performance Studies Program, and he is the co-founding director of The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. He is an award-winning international stage director, producer, playwright, and educator, whose work has been seen off-Broadway, nationally, and at numerous leading theaters around the world.

Jeff Hutchens, Director/Director of Photography, Remember This

Jeff Hutchens is a cinematographer who grew up across the United States, China, South Africa, and the Philippines. After ten years on the road as an award-winning magazine photojournalist (“Time, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic”), Jeff switched mediums and brought his innovative visual aesthetic into filmmaking. He has worked in more than sixty countries, exploring social and cultural issues around the world with a long-form blend of intimate naturalism and surrealist noir. His cinematography credits include numerous feature documentaries and documentary series for Showtime, HBO, and Netflix.

David Strathairn, Actor, Remember This

David Strathairn is a widely acclaimed actor, known for his theater performances and his roles in films, among them Good Night and Good Luck and Lincoln. He starred in Chloe Zhao’s 2020 film Nomadland, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Picture. Some of Strathairn’s most prominent stage productions include The Theatre of War Productions, a community-specific theater-based project that addresses vital public health and social issues. In 2014, in collaboration with Derek Goldman and Clark Young, Strathairn first portrayed the title character in Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, which premiered in commemoration of Karski’s 100th birthday.

Eva Anisko, Producer, Remember This

Eva Anisko is an award-winning producer with experience spearheading social issue documentaries, news and public affairs series, and multi-platform programming, including: Emmy-winning feature documentary, The Armor Of Light (dir. Abigail Disney), Blueprint America, Emmy Award-winning Exposé: America’s Investigative Reports, and the sustainable design series, Design: e2, narrated by Brad Pitt. Other films include: Buffalo Returns (dir. Gini Reticker); In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo; Beyond The Motor City; and A Place In Time (dir. Angelina Jolie). Eva received her B.A. from Georgetown University and M.Ed. from Harvard University.

Clark Young, Co-Writer, Remember This

Clark Young is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn and is originally from Portland, Maine. He co-created every iteration of Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski since its first staged reading in 2014. Clark is currently workshopping his new play, .406 Below, about the cryonic freezing of baseball legend Ted Williams.

Patrice O’Neill, Director, Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life

Patrice O’Neill is a filmmaker and CEO of the Oakland-based non-profit strategic media company, The Working Group and leader of Not In Our Town. Her film Not In Our Town began as a half-hour PBS special and turned into a dynamic movement to stop hate and build inclusion in communities across the U.S. and around the world. Recognized as a pioneer in impact media producing, O’Neill’s PBS films and community engagement campaigns have focused on stories about local communities working together for change.

Alan Mallinger, Film Subject, Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life
Alan Mallinger lives in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and are members of Tree of Life Synagogue. Alan’s mother Rose Mallinger was killed in the attack at the synagogue, and his sister Andrea Wedner was injured. Alan recently retired after working at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh for 27 years. They have 3 children. The Mallinger/Wedner families are active in engaging their community to remember the victims and survivors through the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

Lauren Mallinger, Film Subject, Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life
Lauren and Alan Mallinger live in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and are members of Tree of Life Synagogue. Lauren is a retired Pittsburgh public school teacher, a master gardener and works at REI. They have 3 children. The Mallinger/Wedner families are active in engaging their community to remember the victims and survivors through the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

Mayer Adelberg, Director, The Rock Collection

Mayer Adelberg is a Jewish filmmaker and youth professional. His goal as a filmmaker is to make emotions tangible and visceral. Mayer formerly worked in film as a location sound mixer. He holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. He currently works as the Director of Youth Engagement at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, M.D.

Brooke Saias, DirectorSongs of the Sephardim in Izmir

Brooke Saias is a documentary filmmaker based in Boston and Maine. First introduced to the camera by her father, her personal work continues to draw inspiration from family stories, exploring both her Sephardic and Ashkenazi heritage. She is a lover of storytelling in all its forms, especially when it is used as an entry-point into the overlooked and deepens our understanding of history and ourselves. As an independent director and producer, she collaborates with nonprofits, newsrooms, artists, and other filmmakers around the world. Previously, she was an award-winning video journalist, focused on national education stories. She is dedicated to making the documentary space more equitable, and helped establish The Video Consortium’s first sponsored mentorship program.

Anna Clare Spelman, DirectorSongs of the Sephardim in Izmir

Anna Clare Spelman is a documentary filmmaker based in between Phoenix, Arizona, and Istanbul, Turkey. She comes from a family of artists and storytellers and believes the documenting and sharing of stories is fundamentally important to understanding each other. She works with individuals and communities to tell empowering stories, often focusing on human rights issues within immigrant and LGBTQ communities. Anna collaborates with news outlets around the world, independent filmmakers, and NGO’s. She is currently directing and producing her first feature film, which follows a family in North Carolina for ten years as they navigate raising their transgender daughter. As part of exploring her own Jewish identity while living in Cambodia, she worked on a series of photographic essays about the Jewish diaspora in Southeast Asia.

Eli Kao, Producer, Song of the Sephardim in Izmir

Eli Kao is a documentary writer, producer, and director whose experience ranges from mentoring community media-makers in the Boston area to producing network shows for millions of viewers across the Asia-Pacific region. He grew up in mid-coast Maine, where he currently works as a producer for Compass Light Productions. Previously, he lived in Taiwan and worked for one of Asia’s largest factual production companies. He has produced, directed, and scripted award-winning programs for Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel. His independent projects explore the intersections of race and culture with science and technology.

Ohad Milstein, Director, Summer Nights

Ohad Milstein is a producer, director, cinematographer and editor of documentaries, as well as a lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. He is the creator of Flood (2018), Week 23 (2016), Planets (2014), and other films.
Summer Nights (2021), which won First Prize Winner for Best Film at Docaviv International Film Festival 2021,

Won the Israel Academy Awards (Ophir Awards) 2021, Best Documentary. First Prize of JFBB Berlin.

Natalia Sinelnikova, Writer/Director, We Might as Well Be Dead

Natalia Sinelnikova was born in St. Petersburg in 1989 and emigrated to Germany at the age of 7. In 2013 she graduated from Hildesheim University, with a Bachelor in Culture Studies, the major field of her studies being photography and theatre. Since October 2013 she has been studying film directing at Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in Potsdam. Her graduation film Weeping Willows premiered at the Moscow Jewish Film Festival and was screened at various international festivals. In 2016 she was a member of the Debut Film Jury of the Festival of East European Cinema Cottbus and in 2021 was part of the ZFF Academy at Zurich Film Festival.Natalia is a member of the Jewish artists‘ network „Dagesh“. WE MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD is her feature debut.