NCJF's 12th Annual Film Festival: March 25 - April 5, 2009

At A Glance | Films | Ticket Info | Venues | Guests | Sponsors | Flyers | Past Festivals | Press

Visiting Filmmakers and Special Guests

Director of WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON screening on Wednesday, March 25, 7:00 pm

Franco Sacchi is an Italian filmmaker and freelance journalist living in Boston. His previous directorial work, THIS IS NOLLYWOOD, portrays the fascinating world of the burgeoning Nigerian film industry. The film aired on SABC 1 (South African Broadcasting Corporation), SKY UK and it won the Audience Award at the Abuja International Film festival (Nigeria). Mr. Sacchi’s first feature length film, AMERICAN EUNUCHSscreened at dozens of festivals including the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA) and it aired in 2004 on the Sundance Channel and on several European networks. Mr. Sacchi is a filmmaker in residence at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University. WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON had it’s world premiere screening at the New York Jewish Film Festival in January.

Moderator, WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON screening on Wednesday, March 25, 7:00 pm

Jonathan Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He chairs the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and serves as chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America’s fifty most influential American Jews, he was Chief Historian for the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life. Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than twenty books, including the new A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew and the seminal text American Judaism: A History, winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book of the Year Award.

Director of LADY KUL EL ARAB screening on Thursday, March 26, 7:00 pm

Ibtisam Mara’ana, a Palestinian-Arab Israeli born in Israel, has devoted the past 10 years to creating and promoting cinema that examines the lives of women within Palestinian-Arab society. She has lectured widely in Israel in a variety of settings, including women’s organizations and institutions of higher learning. Ms. Mara’ana directed and wrote the screenplays for a number of award-winning films, including LADY KUL EL ARAB; A ROOM IN TEL-AVIV (part of the television series Culture Heroes); THREE TIMES DIVORCED and BADAL AND AL-JISER-THE BRIDGE, which aired on Channel 2 in Israel. PICTURED: IBTISAM MARA'ANA

Special Guest, LOST ISLANDS screening on Saturday, March 28, 5:30 pm

Lawrence Lowenthal, former Executive Director of the Greater Boston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, has worked on interfaith and intergroup issues in Boston for more than 30 years. He has written extensively about human rights issues for the local press, appeared often on radio and TV, hosted a local radio interview program, and taught courses on Jewish history, film, literature, and humor. In 1970 Dr. Lowenthal moved with his family to Israel, where he taught English and American Literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University, until 1975. Drafted into a new immigrant unit of the Israeli Army in 1974, he went through basic training on the West Bank, anti- aircraft training in Herzilya, and served a tour of duty in Sharm el-Sheik at the southern tip of the Sinai Desert. Dr. Lowenthal is currently a Visiting Scholar in Jewish Studies at Northeastern University.

Special Guest, LOST ISLANDS screening on Saturday, March 28, 8:30 pm

Rony Yedidia serves as Deputy Consul General of Israel to New England. Ms. Yedidia grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She returned to Israel in order to serve in the Israel Defense Force, where she served in the Artillery Force. She went on to study at Tel Aviv University, earning a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature. She later earned her Masters in American Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ms. Yedidia began her diplomatic career in 1994 as a member of the prestigious Cadets' course, specializing in administrative affairs. She has served as Consul in the Consulate General in Istanbul and as Director of Administration in the Israeli Embassy in Moscow. She most recently served as head of the Consular Liaison Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2004. Yedidia arrived in Boston to serve in the Consulate General in October 2006.

Director/Producer of WILL EISNER: PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST screening on Sunday, March 29 4:00 pm

Andrew D. Cooke wrote two independent feature scripts, DARWIN and STONE DIARIES, for producer G. Mac Brown and has recently completed a screenplay with director Alex Sichel, which Dolly Hall will produce. Mr. Cooke spent much of his early career in film production as a location manager, working on such films as LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, SCENT OF A WOMAN, FLESH AND BONE, VANILLA SKY, and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Mr. Cooke directed the short film, MY PERFECT JOURNEY, which received numerous film festival awards. WILL EISNER: PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST, a collaboration with his brother Jon, is his first feature length documentary. Mr. Cooke was born in 1961 in Mount Kisco, NY. He lives in New York City. PICTURED L TO R: ANDREW D. COOKE, ART SPIEGELMAN, JON B. COOKE

JON B. COOKE (Pictured above)
Writer/Producer of WILL EISNER: PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST screening on Sunday, March 29 4:00 pm

Jon B. Cooke is the creator and editor of Comic Book Artist magazine, the influential, five-time Eisner Award-winning magazine devoted to the history of comics. He is the author of numerous books in the same field, including the comic book, Prime8™ which he co-wrote with his brother Andrew. He is a frequent introduction writer for Marvel Comics, an accomplished graphic designer, and an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. Mr. Cooke lives with his wife and three sons in West Kingston, Rhode Island.

Moderator, WILL EISNER: PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST screening on Sunday, March 29 4:00 pm

Thomas Doherty, a professor of American studies and film studies at Brandeis University since 1990, is a cultural historian with a special interest in Hollywood cinema. He has also taught and lectured overseas as a Fulbright scholar. Dr. Doherty’s reviews and commentary have appeared in the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2005, he received recognition as an Academy Film Scholar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He serves on the editorial board of Cineaste and edits the film review section for the Journal of American History. Doherty is the author of several highly regarded books, including Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture and World War II; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism and American Culture; and, most recently, Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration.

Discussant, FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS screening on Sunday, March 29, 7:00 pm
Edward K. Kaplan is Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities at Brandeis University, where he has taught courses on comparative literature and religious studies since 1978. Dr. Kaplan was founding chair of the Program in Religious Studies and is Research Associate at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. He is presently chair of the Department of Romance Studies. The author of many scholarly works, Dr. Kaplan has written two influential books about Rabbi Heschel: Abraham Joshua Heschel: Prophetic Witness and Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America 1940-1972, which won the 2008 National Jewish Book Award. Professor Kaplan is particularly interested in the relationship between esthetic, ethical, and religious experience in literature and the lives and writings of religious activists and thinkers.

Director of FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS: TO ESTONIA screening on Tuesday, March 31, 7:00 pm

Lukas Pribyl (b. 1973, Ostrava, Czech Republic) studied Political science, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and History at Brandeis University, graduating with a BA in 1996. He continued his studies at Columbia University and Central European University. His interest in World War II and Jewish history resulted in a number of published studies and exhibitions in the Jewish Museum in Prague. FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS: TO ESTONIA is one of four feature-length documentary films that comprise Mr. Pribyl’s FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS project, which he researched, wrote, directed and produced. Each of the films is based on the experience of Jews deported to virtually unknown camps and ghettos—in Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and the Lublin region of eastern Poland. Almost all were sent to places where thousands or even tens of thousands of people perished. These stories are not covered in standard histories of the Holocaust, however, since virtually no one was left after the war to describe what happened there. PICTURED: LUKAS PRIBYL WITH 2 PARTICIPANTS IN FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS AT NY JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2008

Discussant, FORGOTTEN TRANSPORTS: TO ESTONIA screening on Tuesday, March 31, 7:00 pm

Joanna Michlic, Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Project on Families, Children and the Holocaust, received her MA and PHD in modern European and Jewish history from University of London, and her bachelor’s degree in Slavonic studies at the University of Lodz, Poland. Until recently she was Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Holocaust and Ethical Values at Lehigh University. Dr. Michlic has published extensively on topics relating to the Holocaust and Poland, including the books Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne and Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present. She is currently working on two monographs, The Social History of Jewish Children in Poland: Survival and Identity, 1945—1949 and Bringing the Dark to Light: The Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka.

Director of RUN FOR YOUR LIFE screening on Sunday, April 5, 7:00 pm

Judd Ehrlich (b. 1971, New York City) produced and directed Mayor of the West Side, the Emmy-nominated coming-of-age story about a teenager with multiple disabilities. He collaborated on the editing of Ric Burns's epic PBS series New York and Macky Alston's Sundance award-winner FAMILY NAME . He also worked for the acclaimed PBS documentary series POV and edited for CBS News. Mr. Ehrlich created and curated multiple film series around New York City, hosting notables such as Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi, Tony Kushner, Cyndi Lauper, and Willem Dafoe. He teaches documentary filmmaking in high schools and colleges and is a graduate of Vassar College. Mr. Ehrlich lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children. PICTURED: JUDD EHRLICH

Moderator, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE screening on Sunday, April 5, 7:00 pm

Mark Auslander is Director of the interdisciplinary Master's program in Cultural Production and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis University. He is a sociocultural anthropologist with strong interests in political and symbolic processes in Africa and the African Diaspora. Dr. Auslander has written widely on a wide range of topics, and has consulted at the Smithsonian Institution on several exhibitions. With his students and community members, he has collaboratively curated exhibitions of African and African American art, as well as family and cultural history. Dr. Auslander also serves as coordinator of the Greater Boston Anthropology Consortium. He is a former long-distance runner.

Special Guest, THE JESTER screening on Thursday, April 2, 7:00 pm

Sharon Rivo, Executive Director of The National Center for Jewish Film, is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University, where she teaches courses on Jewish film. Having begun her career in television as a film producer for WGBH-TV Boston, Rivo has now worked in film and media for over thirty years. Recognized nationally and internationally as an archivist, scholar and programmer, she has been an invited lecturer at hundreds of venues around the world. The recipient of numerous awards, she has curated a dozen retrospectives and film festivals (including twelve annual festivals at the Wasserman Cinematheque). In 1976 she co-founded NCJF which has grown to become the largest archive (and largest distributor) of Jewish film in the world, outside of Israel. She had directed the restoration of 37 Yiddish feature films and dozens of other films that document the diversity and vibrancy of Jewish life.

Special Guest, THE JESTER screening on Thursday, April 2, 7:00 pm

A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and scholar, Hankus Netsky teaches improvisation and Jewish music at the New England Conservatory. He is the founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble. Mr. Netsky has taught at Hebrew College and Wesleyan University, and has lectured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His essays on klezmer music have been published by the University of California Press. Mr. Netsky has produced dozens of recordings, composed extensively for film and television, and collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey, and Theodore Bikel. Mr. Netsky contributed to the restoration of THE JESTER, working with NCJF translators to translate the film’s songs from Yiddish into English.

Special Guest, THE SEVEN DAYS screening on Saturday, April 4, 7:00 pm

Nadav Tamir, Consul General of Israel to New England was born and raised in Kibbutz Manara in northern Israel. He began his career of public service in 1980 in the IDF, where he eventually served as a company commander and retired with the rank of Major. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 and the following year began to serve as the Policy Assistant to the Foreign Minister, for whom he developed recommendations and policy programs. Mr. Tamir served under Foreign Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and David Levy, and in 1997, he was promoted to the position of Political Officer at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., where he worked closely with the State Department and the National Security Council. In 2001 he became Advisor to the Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, where he specialized in Israeli-U.S. relations. Mr. Tamir earned his Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004.

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