Rana Abu Fraiha, Director, In Her Footsteps

Rana Abu Fraiha is an Israeli Bedouin female director and photographer. She began her studies at the Architecture Department at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem before moving to the Screen Based Arts Department to study VideoArt and Documentary. Rana was born in Tel Sheva, a Bedouin village in the south of Israel, and, from age five, grew up in the Jewish town of Omer. Her work deals with her complex identity, gender and belonging. Today Rana also works with youth in cinema, and in the development of Arab and Bedouin art in Israel. Her first documentary feature, In Her Footsteps has screened worldwide and has won multiple awards this past year including Best Documentary Director at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival and an Ophir (Israeli Academy) Award nomination for best documentary over 60 min in 2018.

Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha, Protagonist, In Her Footsteps

Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha is the Executive Director and Founder of GENESIS, an NGO that aims to prevent genetic diseases in the Middle East, especially in the Bedouin community, by spearheading premarital genetic testing and matching. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Project Wadi Attir and on the founding team of Yanabia, social projects for the improvement of Bedouin lives in Israel. She has won several awards, including the 2007 Ramon Award for quality, leadership, and excellence and the 2015 Travel Grant Award for outstanding young investigators at the 38th European Cystic Fibrosis Society conference. Dr. Abu Fraiha was also chosen to be part of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. Yasmeen holds a BSc in Medical Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Eli Batalion, Co-Director/Actor, The Double Date

Eli Batalion is a writer, producer, actor and composer for film, TV, the web and the stage. Eli has written, composed and produced in various capacities for dozens of projects ranging from award-winning horror musical films screened and distributed internationally to touring musical comedy productions. He is one of the co-creators of YidLife Crisis, a Jewish web series turned cultural brand which won the 2017 IAWTV Award for Best Non-English Series and has been nominated for 4 Canadian Screen Awards. Its episodes and spin-off documentaries like CHEWDAISM: A Taste of Montreal have been selected to numerous Jewish Film Festivals, including San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington, UK, Miami, Vancouver and more.

Rudolf Biermann, Producer, The Interpreter

Rudolf Biermann is a producer who has worked on more than 40 titles, including brilliant art films like The Garden (winner of the Czech film critics’ Czech Lion award), Orbis Pictus and Landscape, directed by Martin Šulík, All My Loved Ones and King of Thieves . Biermann has also produced several feature films including From Subway With Love (the biggest box office hit of 2005)  and The Holiday Maker (the biggest box office hit of 2006). I Served the King of England, directed by Jiří Menzel, won the Berlinale – FIPRESCI Critics Award and the Czech Lion for best film. His 2016 film A Prominent Patient took a record haul of 12 Czech Lions, including the prize for best film. This year, The Interpreter premiered at the 68th Berlinale. The film has been nominated by Slovakia for the Academy Awards’ Foreign Language Film category and  film won awards at the Haifa International Film Festival and the Slemain International Film Festival, Iraq. Rudolf Biermann’s new film,  The Glass Room, is in postproduction.

Doug Block, Producer, Futures Past

Doug Block is an internationally acclaimed documentary director, producer, and cameraman. His films have won countless awards at top film festivals and been shown theatrically and broadcast throughout the world. His credits as director/producer include 112 Weddings (BJFF 2014), The Kids Grow Up, 51 Birch Street (BJFF 2006), Home Page, and The Heck With Hollywood!. Producing credits include Silverlake Life, Jupiter’s Wife, Paternal Instinct, A Walk Into the Sea, The Edge of Dreaming, and Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. Block is also the founder and co-host of “The D-Word” (www.d-word.com), the leading online community and discussion forum for documentary professionals worldwide.

Chris Stovall Brown, Musician, Satan & Adam

Chris Stovall Brown is veteran and mainstay of the Boston blues scene with an old-school pedigree that stretches back to the early 1970s, when he went on the road with Chicago’s original wild man, Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson. In the 1980s, Chris appeared on NBC’s Today Show three times with the Cambridge Harmonica Orchestra and played with Buddy Guy, Roy Buchanan, Bo Diddley and Martha Reeves. In the ’90s, Chris recorded with Earring George, Ron Levy, Henry Lee Spencer, and Boston Blues Blast and worked with greats James Cotton and John Mayall. Recently, Chris produced a pair of critically acclaimed CDs for Watermelon Slim, with whom he tours internationally; he also appears on CDs by Chicago Bob Nelson, Shorty Billups and Sax Gordon. Chris plays regionally with James Montgomery, The Colbys, J Geils, Jeff Pitchell, Madeleine Hall and his own “Chris Stovall Brown Band”.

Cara Campanelli, Singer, Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Cara Campanelli is an award-winning vocalist and bandleader, whose petite frame conceals a powerful and deeply haunting voice. Her style harkens back to the great vocalists of the Big Band Era, evoking the glamour and sophistication of classic jazz as few modern vocalists can. Early on in her musical career, Cara was singled out by DownBeat magazine, who named her an Outstanding Vocalist. She was named a “talent to watch” by the legendary trumpeter Wayne Bergeron following her vocal performance at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival. Her LP, So Near, received critical acclaim both in the states and abroad, earning international distribution. She is currently performing with a variety of jazz ensembles throughout the New England area including her own Cara Campanelli Group.

Jan Darsa, Moderator, Chasing Portraits

Jan Darsa is former Director of Jewish education at Facing History and Ourselves. She still facilitates Facing History workshops, institutes, and other professional development programs for teachers across the country and in Israel and provides follow-up consultations for individual teachers and schools. She has developed a curriculum materials designed for educators in Jewish day schools and supplementary schools entitled “Jews of Poland”  and “Sacred Texts, Modern Questions”.  She has researched the Warsaw Ghetto, the artists of Terezin, and European Jewry before the 1930’s and is now working on Israel education. She has written numerous articles on Holocaust education and a recent study guide on “Colliding Dreams”, a film about the history of Zionism as told through the inhabitants of Israel. Darsa received a B.A. in English literature from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.Ed. from Boston University and has studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the World Union of Jewish Students in Israel. She has been a Jerusalem Fellow, studying education and Jewish studies and a scholar-in-residence in South Africa.

Paula Eiselt, Director/Producer/Cinematographer, 93Queen

Paula Eistelt is an independent filmmaker and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a double major in Film Production and Cinema Studies. Eiselt served as Director of Programming at The Edit Center where she launched and designed theirDocumentary Filmmaking program. In Eiselt was a Creative Producing Fellow for the 2017 Sundance Creative Producing Summit and a 2016 IFP Documentary Lab fellow. In  addition to her feature docs, Eiselt is developing a New York Times Op-Doc on Jewish identity in collaboration with the team behind the “In Conversation on Race” series.  93Queen is Eiselt’s feature directorial debut.

Éva Gárdos, Director, Budapest Noir

Éva Gárdos is a Hungarian-born, award-winning film director and editor. Gárdos’ first film job was on Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. “That,” she says, “was my film school.” Throughout her career as an editor, she worked with distinguished directors like Barbet Schroeder, Peter Bogdanovich, and Anjelica Huston on films like Valley Girl, Mask, and Bastard Out of Carolina. Gárdos’ based her screenwriting and feature film directorial debut, An American Rhapsody, on her own family’s escape from Hungary in the 1950s. After discovering the bestselling Hungarian novel, Budapest Noir, she returned to Hungary to develop and direct the film.

Michal Gera Margaliot, Speaker, Working Woman

Michal Gera-Margaliot is an attorney and has been Executive Director at Israel Women’s Network (IWN) since 2016. Michal has vast experience in initiating, developing and implementing women empowerment initiatives, both in the public and the NGO sectors. Previously, Michal served as Chief of Staff and parliamentary advisor to MK Merav Michaeli (Labor, opposition whip). Michal has worked in NGOs including HOSHEN – The Israeli LGBT Center for Education; Metzilah – The Center of Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought; and at the Lafer Center for Women and Gender Studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Michal has a BA in Philosophy, Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Law, specializing in gender studies. Michal is the 2018 honorary of the Bernice Tannenbaum Prize.

Roberta Grossman, Director/Writer/Producer, Who Will Write Our History

Roberta Grossman is an award-winning filmmaker with a passion for history and social justice who has written, directed and produced more than 40 hours of film and television. She is the executive producer of the nonprofit production company Katahdin Productions, is a three-time recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a panelist for the WGA Documentary Screenplay Awards. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, with a degree in honors in history, and she received an M.A. in film from the American Film Institute.

Grossman’s recent work includes Seeing Allred, about women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, Above and Beyond, about the American–Jewish WWII pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in 1948, and Hava Nagila (The Movie), which won the audience award at more than 20 film festivals worldwide. Grossman is currently producing All This Life: The Many Worlds of Roman Vishniac.

Adam Gussow, Protagonist/Musician, Satan & Adam

Adam Gussow is a professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi and a professional blues harmonica player and teacher. As a member of the blues duo Satan and Adam, he played blues, jazz, and folk festivals and recorded half a dozen albums. As well as teaching private lessons and workshops, Gussow posts lessons on his YouTube channels and on ModernBluesHarmonica.com. He has published four non-fiction books including Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir (1998) and Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (2017). When Gussow was featured on the cover of Living Blues Magazine, the reviewer wrote “Think James Cotton’s warbling excitement and R.L. Burnside’s grifter stomp, tied up with Lightnin’ Hopkins’ dustbowl charm, and you’ve got the Adam Gussow sound.”

Ted Husband, Editor, The Accountant of Auschwitz

Ted Husband is a Toronto-based film and television editor. Since graduating from Sheridan College’s Advanced Film and Television program in Toronto, Ted has worked on a wide variety of projects that range from music videos for Canadian artists such as indie rock legend Brendan Canning, to many short films and documentaries. His most recent short films include Milk and Honey, Patrick: Evil Awakens and Faker Chaser. The Accountant of Auschwitz is his first feature film.

Stephane Kaas, Director, Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story

Stephane Kaas is a Dutch filmmaker who studied both the Art Academy (Rietveld Academy) and the Dutch Film Academy (NFTA). He has made several short documentaries, fiction films and satirical films that were screened online, on tv and on film festivals around the world. His first feature documentary is Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story, made with his friend Rutger Lemm, a film about the famous Israeli writer of short surreal stories and the need for storytelling. It won two prizes at the Master of Art Film Festival in Bulgaria, a Prix Italia and was nominated for a Rockie Award and an Emmy Award.

Barnet Kessel, Moderator, Who Will Write Our History

Barnet has served as Executive Director of the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture for 5 years. He bring twenty-four years of managerial experience and exceptional leadership in the Jewish community. Before coming to the Vilna, Barnet was vice president of commercial products at Mantua Manufacturing Company. Barnet served on the Board of Directors of Jewish Community Relations Council, the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, and the Young Leadership Division of CJP. He holds a B.S. from Syracuse University’s School of Management and lives in Newton with his wife Nava and three children.

Rutger Lemm, Co-Director/Writer, Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story

Rutger Lemm co-wrote the screenplay and assisted in the directing of Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story. He’s also published a collection of autobiographical essays and used to perform as a stand-up comedian. Currently he’s working on a European comedy series and a novel. He really dislikes writing in the third person.

Lisa Lynch, Moderator, In Her Footsteps

Lisa M. Lynch is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Brandeis University. Previously, she served as interim president of Brandeis University and as dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Lynch has served as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor; director and chair of the board of directors of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank; and president of the Labor and Employment Relations Association. Lynch has published extensively on the impact of technology and organizational innovation on productivity and workers, the determinants of youth unemployment, and the school-to-work transition. She received her BA from Wellesley College, and her MSc and PhD from the London School of Economics.

Marty Norman, Speaker, The City Without Jews

Marty Norman is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in child, adolescent and family concerns.  In addition, he has consulted with schools and institutions including the Perkins School for the Blind and the Children’s Museum, and served a term as President of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Psychological Association.  He received his Ph.D. from Boston University.  A lifelong cinephile, Marty is a member of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation’s Board of Directors.  Along with his wife, Becki, he started and continues to be a sponsor of the Sounds of Silents Series at the Coolidge, which presents classic silent cinema accompanied by live music.  Since its inception in 2007, Marty has curated films for the Series and introduces each program.

Jordan Melamed, Director, Futures Past

Director Jordan Melamed spent twelve years in the Chicago trading pits before attending the American Film Institute. His thesis film, A Corner in Gold, won the Student Emmy for Drama from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and played at at the Cannes Film Festival. His first feature, Maniac, which starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and Don Cheadle, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and played in film festivals worldwide. Melamed is currently developing Fountain of Youth, a hybrid documentary/fiction project about beauty and aging set in South Miami Beach. 

Alex Olsen, Pianist, Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Alex Olsen attended the Berklee College of Music, as a pianist and composer. He has performed in world-renowned venues including Rose Hall, Symphony Hall, and Lincoln Center alongside genre-defining artists such as Wynton Marsalis, John Oates of Hall and Oates, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Alex is known for his inventive compositions and improvisation drawing inspiration from his studies in jazz, classic orchestral, and hip-hop. Recipient of several awards from international jazz competitions including Essentially Ellington, Alex graduated from the Berklee College of Music with honors and is now frequently playing in the Boston jazz scene.

Barbara Penzner, Moderator, In Our Son’s Name

Since 1995, Barbara Penzner has served Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Boston. Barbara is currently co-chair of the New England Jewish Labor Committee and leads their annual Labor Seder in Boston. She is a past President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.

Samuel D. Pollard, Director, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Sam Pollard is an accomplished feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director whose work spans almost 30 years. Pollard’s first assignment as a documentary producer on Eyes On The Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads (1989) won him an Emmy. Pollard received a Peabody Award for I’ll Make Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community.  Between 1990 and 2010, Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films including Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Bamboozled and co-produced a number of award-winning documentary productions with Lee. Since 2012 Pollard has produced and directed five documentaries, among them Slavery By Another Name (2012), August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand (2015), and Two Trains Runnin’ (2016).

Michael Randall, Speaker, Promise at Dawn

Michael Randall is a professor of Comparative  Literature, European Cultural Studies, Romance Studies, Late Medieval and Renaissance poetry, prose, and philosophy at Brandeis University. His primary research has been devoted to late medieval and Renaissance culture in France. He has published two books, as well as several articles, on subjects related to this area of study. He teaches courses in many different areas of French and comparative literature, covering subjects such literature and politics, literature and urbanism, the relationship of necessity and freedom, the notion of love, and comparative political systems in the modern Francophone world.

Jeff Rapsis, Musician, The City Without Jews

Jeff Rapsis is a New Hampshire-based musician who specializes in creating live accompaniment for silent film programs. He appears regularly at venues including the Harvard Film Archive, the Somerville Theatre, the Cleveland Cinematheque, Cinema Detroit, and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. His recorded work includes a piano score for ‘Zaza’ (1923) starring Gloria Swanson. As a composer, Jeff’s most recent work for orchestra, “Kilimanjaro Suite,” was premiered by the New Hampshire Philharmonic in 2017. Jeff is executive director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire as well as co-owner of HippoPress, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper. He also teaches communications at the University of New Hampshire.

Julia Rodríguez, Protagonist, In Our Son’s Name

Julia E. Rodríguez teaches Latin American history at the University of New Hampshire. Her areas of interest are the history of science, cultural history, and citizenship. She regularly teaches classes on the history of human rights, citizenship, and social movements. Julia has visited Guantánamo Bay as the sister of 9/11 victim Gregory E. Rodríguez. From that experience, she wrote and published opinion pieces in Time magazine and the New York Times.

Orlando Rodríguez, Protagonist, In Our Son’s Name

Orlando Rodríguez immigrated to New York in 1955 with his parents at age 13. He is a professor of sociology/criminology and peace studies at Fordham University in the Bronx. His background includes social research in the areas of criminology, immigration and mental health. He has developed a series of courses at Fordham including “Terrorism and Society”, “Global Conflict: War and Religion” and “Harm and Justice, Crime and Punishment.” In 2011, as part of Rising Hope, a college level certificate program, he developed and began teaching the “Sociology of Religion” in prisons.

Phyllis Rodríguez (née Schafer), Protagonist, In Our Son’s Name

Phyllis Rodríguez is a native New Yorker, who grew up in the Bronx. She was a teacher, artist, and community activist. Her lifelong commitment to nonviolence and reconciliation has deepened since 2001. She is involved in issues of restorative justice, undoing racism, the elimination of the death penalty, banning torture and the unconstitutional hearings in the case of Mohammed, et al, v. U.S in the ongoing Military Tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. The story of her meeting with Aicha el Wafi, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person tried in Federal court in relation to the attacks, in chronicled by The Forgiveness Project, a London based organization that promotes non-vengeful responses to violence

Elizabeth Rose, Director, The Law of Averages

Elizabeth Rose is a writer and director born in Montreal and raised in Cambridge, MA. She received an MFA in Screenwriting from Columbia University in 2017. Her thesis short, The Law of Averages, premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, played at Palm Springs International Festival of Short Film, Milly Valley, and won the jury prize for best narrative short at The Provincetown Film Festival. Interview Magazine featured her as a writer/director to watch in their Discovery series in July 2017. She is currently working on her first feature.

Judith Rosenbaum, Moderator, Working Woman

Judith Rosenbaum, PhD, is Executive Director of the Jewish Women’s Archive. Judith earned a BA in History from Yale University, a PhD in American Studies from Brown University, and received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Israel. Judith teaches and lectures widely on Jewish studies and women’s studies, and loves to draw on the story of Heather Booth’s lifelong activism in her teaching. Judith serves on the faculty of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and publishes regularly in academic and popular journals, blogs, and anthologies.

Elizabeth Rynecki, Director, Chasing Portraits

Elizabeth Rynecki is the great-granddaughter of Polish-Jewish artist, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943). She grew up with her great-grandfather’s paintings prominently displayed on the walls of her family home and understood from an early age that the art connected her to a legacy from “the old country”: Poland. Elizabeth has a BA in Rhetoric from Bates College (’91) and an MA in Rhetoric and Communication from UC Davis (’94). Her Master’s thesis focused on children of Holocaust survivors. Her book, also titled Chasing Portraits, was published by Penguin Random House in September 2016.

Matthew Shoychet, Director, The Accountant of Auschwitz

Matthew Shoychet is a Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto. He is a graduate of York University’s Film Production BFA, as well as Sheridan College’s post-graduate in Advanced Television and Film. Shoychet has worked on both narrative and documentary short films and aspires to work in every genre. Outside of his work in film, Matthew sits on the Board of Directors for OneFamily Fund, the leading charity organization that provides therapeutic and financial support for victims of terror and war in Israel from all backgrounds. The Accountant of Auschwitz is his feature film debut.

Lisa Silverman, Speaker, The City Without Jews

Lisa Silverman is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. A specialist in modern European Jewish history, her research interests include German and Austrian Jewish culture, antisemitism, Holocaust history and representation, film, and gender. She is author of Becoming Austrians: Jews and Culture between the World Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012), in which she writes about The City Without Jews, and co-author with Daniel H. Magilow of Holocaust Representations in History: an Introduction(Bloomsbury, 2015). Her co-edited volumes include Austrian Studies 24: Jews, Jewish Difference and Austrian Culture: Literary and Historical Perspectives (2016); Making Place: Space and Embodiment in the City (Indiana University Press, 2014) and Interwar Vienna: Culture between Tradition and Modernity (Camden House, 2009).

Shawn Snyder, Director/Writer, To Dust

Shawn Snyder grew up in South Florida. After receiving a BA in Religion from Harvard, he spent most of his twenties on the road as a singer/songwriter. The last seven years have seen a return to Shawn’s long-standing passion for filmmaking, during which he completed studies at NYU’s Graduate Film Program. His short film, Festus, won the 2014 CINE Golden Eagle Award for BestStudent Drama and later premiered on KQED’s Film School Shorts. His follow-up, Lulu, premiered at the Palm Springs International ShortFest in 2015. To Dust, Shawn’s first feature, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival where it won the Narrative Audience Award and Shawn received the award for Best New Narrative Director. To Dust was a part of IFP’s 2015 Emerging Storytellers, the recipient of the NYU/Alfred P. Sloan’s $100K First Feature Award, the winner of TFI’s 2016 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize, and a part of the NYU Production Lab’s inaugural slate. Shawn is also a former IFP/Marcie Bloom Fellow and Sundance Institute Feature Film Fellow, and was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Filmin 2016.

Shayna Weiss, Speaker, Shababnikim 

Dr. Shayna Weiss is the Associate Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. Previously, she was the inaugural Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Israel Studies at the United States Naval Academy. She earned her PhD from New York University in Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She completed postdoctoral fellowships in Israel at Bar Ilan University and Tel Aviv University, where she taught courses about Israeli history and society. She has also taught at Brooklyn College and New York University. Her research interests converge at the intersection of religion and gender in the Israeli public sphere, as well as the politics of Israeli popular culture. She is completing a book on gender segregation in the Israeli public sphere.

Iris Zaki, Director, Unsettling

Dr. Iris Zaki is a Grierson award-winning documentary filmmaker and researcher, who uses quirky first-person narratives to depict communities. She recently finished her PhD at Royal Holloway, London, which explored her innovative interviewing technique: The Abandoned Camera. Her previous film, Women in Sink screened at over 120 festivals,  including the Boston Jewish Film Festival, received 13 awards (at Karlovy Vary, Visions du Reel, Films de Femmes and more), and was featured on TV and on NYTimes.com.