We are pleased to present this year’s guest list! This year’s Festival brings us directors, actors, writers, panelists, and speakers from all over the world.
Brett Berns, Co-Director, BANG! The Bert Berns Story
Brett Berns, who resides in Los Angeles and New York City, is the son of the legendary songwriter and record producer Bert Berns. He has devoted much of his life to raising awareness of his late father’s legacy. He is lead producer of the Broadway-bound musical Piece of My Heart and has spent eight years producing and directing the documentary BANG! The Bert Berns Story.
Heather Booth, Protagonist, Heather Booth: Changing the World
Heather Booth is one of the leading strategists about progressive issue and electoral campaigns. She has been an organizer starting in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war and women’s movements of the 1960s and continuing through today. She was the founding director and is now president of the Midwest Academy, training social change leaders and organizers. She has been involved in and managed political campaigns and was the training director of the Democratic National Committee. In 2000, she was the director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, which helped to increase African American election turnout by nearly 2 million voters. She was the lead consultant, directing the founding of the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2005.
In 2008, she was the director of the Health Care Campaign for the AFL-CIO. In 2009, she directed the campaign passing President Obama’s first budget. In 2010 she was the founding director of Americans for Financial Reform, fighting to regulate the financial industry. She was the national coordinator for the coalition around marriage equality and the 2013 Supreme Court decision. She was strategic advisor to the Alliance for Citizenship (the largest coalition of the immigration reform campaign). She is now field director for Americans for Tax Fairness to stop the tax cuts for millionaires that will lead to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and education.
Julie Burros, Speaker, FreshFlix Short Film Competition
Julie Burros is the chief of arts and culture for the City of Boston, a cabinet-level position reporting directly to Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The Arts Cabinet includes the Boston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. As the department head for the very multi-faceted MOAC, she leads Boston Creates, the cultural plan for Boston, the Boston Cultural Council, which makes grants to artists and organization, and the Boston Art Commission, which commissions and approves public art. Other programs include art exhibitions at City Hall, the poet laureate program and operation of the historic Strand Theater. Burros trained as an urban planner and is a 20-year veteran of municipal government public service. Prior to moving to Boston in late 2014 she served as the director of cultural planning for the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs since 2000.
Sharon E. Cooper, Writer, The Seven Men of Hanukkah
Sharon E. Cooper was born in Massachusetts, lives in NYC, and is an internationally produced and published playwright. At NYU, she wrote her first feature screenplay, The Golden Age of Kali, about a closeted Hindu, lesbian New Yorker who is trying to keep her Jewish girlfriend away from her family and vice versa. She is currently looking for partners for this project. Sharon coaches high school juniors/seniors from all over the country on their essays for college. She is over the moon to be in her first Jewish film festival!
Alexandra Dean, Director, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Alexandra Dean is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and a documentary director and producer. She produced news-magazine documentaries for PBS before becoming a series and documentary producer at Bloomberg television, producing the series Innovators about inventors who shape our world. She also writes about invention for Businessweek magazine. Today, she is a founding partner at Reframed Pictures. Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story is her first feature documentary and she is absolutely thrilled to be traveling the world with it, and talking to women who like to shake things up just like Hedy Lamarr.
Thomas Doherty, Panelist, The Jazz Singer
Thomas Doherty is a professor of American studies at Brandeis University. He is an associate editor for the film magazine Cineaste and film review editor for the Journal of American History. His most recent book is Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist, forthcoming from Columbia University Press.
Patrick Downes, Speaker, Muhi – Generally Temporary
Patrick grew up in Cambridge. He graduated from Boston College in 2005 and recently completed his doctorate in clinical psychology from William James College. Patrick and his wife, Jessica, met on Capitol Hill in D.C. in 2006 and married in 2012. While Patrick was in graduate school and Jessica was an oncology nurse at MGH, they attended the 2013 Boston Marathon. When the bombs went off, each lost their left leg below the knee, and Jess suffered extensive damage to her right leg, among other injuries. Patrick and Jessica were eventually given special permission from the Secretary of Defense to be patients at Walter Reed in Maryland, where Jessica’s right leg was amputated in 2015, and where they lived for nearly three years. They moved home to Cambridge in June and are now particularly interested in how our country responds to terrorism, furthering the relationship between military and civilian medicine, expanding disability rights, and using their family’s experience to care for others. They were featured in the HBO documentary Marathon: The Patriots’ Day Bombing, and have written a children’s book, Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, to start a conversation with children and adults alike about people with disabilities, service dogs, teamwork, and perseverance that is available for pre-order now.
Samantha Elisofon, Actress, Keep the Change
Actress and singer Samantha Elisofon’s role in Keep the Change earned her a nomination for best actress at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Samantha is an inaugural member of EPIC Players, a uniquely inclusive theater company for performers with (and without) disabilities. She also performs with DreamStreet Theatre Company. Samantha is starring as Lucy in Epic Players upcoming performance of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, at The Flea Theater this November. Samantha is also the subject of the memoir, My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism, written by Samantha’s mother, Marguerite Elisofon. Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Samantha started singing with perfect pitch at age 7 and graduated Pace University, cum laude.
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Speaker, Dimona Twist
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is associate director of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University and directs the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law. Dr. Fishbayn Joffe‘s publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions; The Polygamy Question; Women’s Rights and Religious Law, and a special issue of Nashim on New Historical and Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce. She is editor, with Sylvia Neil, of the Brandeis University Press Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law. She received her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School and LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Norbert I. Goldfield, M.D., Speaker, Muhi – Generally Temporary
Dr. Goldfield is the founder/executive director of Healing Across the Divides, an organization focusing on peace-building through health in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Healing Across the Divides accomplishes its objective by seeking to improve health through community-based, locally driven interventions aimed at marginalized Israelis and Palestinians. Dr. Goldfield also works as a medical director for the private health care research group, developing tools linking payment for health care services to improved quality of health care outcomes. Dr. Goldfield is a board-certified internist practicing at a community health center and edits a peer-reviewed medical journal, the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, and has published more than 50 books and articles.
Eden Hadad, Director, The Disposers
Eden Hadad was born and raised in Tel Aviv. After finishing his military service in 2010, Eden attended The Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. Upon graduating in 2015, Eden received the JFF, Gesher & Snunit Grants to complete The Disposers, which he directed and co-wrote. The Disposers premiered at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival in London. Currently, Eden lives in New York— studying screenwriting and directing at Columbia University’s MFA film program. He has just completed his first feature script and is in post-production for his forthcoming short—a dark comedy based on his alcohol enablers’ family.
Jake Honig, Director, Black Swell
Jake Honig is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Rachel Israel, Director, Keep the Change
Rachel Israel received her B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Rachel lives in NYC and is an adjunct professor of film at Rhode Island School of Design. She was an associate producer on Violet & Daisy (2011), and has directed short films that have screened at festivals around the world. Based on her award-winning short, Rachel’s feature directorial debut, Keep the Change, has received support from The Sundance Institute, Rooftop Film Festival, and the Princess Grace Foundation. Keep the Change world premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2017, where it was awarded several prizes including Best U.S. Narrative Feature and Best New Narrative Feature Director.
Joshua R. Jacobson, Panelist, The Jazz Singer
Joshua R. Jacobson, one of the foremost authorities on Jewish choral music, is professor of music and director of choral activities at Northeastern University and visiting professor and senior consultant in the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College. He is also founder and director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston. Professor Jacobson is past president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Dr. Jacobson holds degrees in music from Harvard College, the New England Conservatory, and the University of Cincinnati.
Judith Kalaora, Actor/Creator, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Judith Kaloaora is an actress, educator, and historical interpreter. She has worked on stages from London to Montreal and across the U.S.A. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and the Globe Education Program, at Shakespeare’s Globe, in London, U.K.
Rebecca Karpovsky, Writer/Producer/Actor, Pinsky
Rebecca Karpovsky is a NYC-based actor and writer. Pinsky is her debut as a writer and producer. She is currently playing in Ienesco’s Rhinoceros put up by the New Yiddish Rep in New York. Rebecca is a member of the award-winning NYC-based ensemble theater company Lost & Found. Their latest production was the original play Old New Year. After moving to NYC two years ago, Rebecca has performed in several films, including The Falls and Angel. She regularly performs on stage, film, commercials, and voiceover. Simultaneously, she and Amanda Lundquist have been tirelessly writing their latest new projects, including another feature and a pilot for a comedy series.
Daryl Lathon, Director/Editor, The Seven Men of Hanukkah
Daryl Lathon has worked professionally as an actor for over 20 years. He has performed with The Shakespeare Theatre in D.C., Theatre Virginia, Soho Rep, Red Bull Theatre, and The Mint Theatre. As a director and editor, Daryl has received accolades for his work on a number of short films including President of the Fan Club, Anniversary Dinner, Sunshine, and the web series Clean Kill. He is in pre-production with Sharon Cooper for the spiritual sequel to The Seven Men of Hanukkah.
Hope Litoff, Director, 32 Pills
Hope Litoff is a 20-year veteran film editor. 32 Pills is her directorial debut. She began her career assisting filmmakers such as Ken Burns and Stephen Ives on The West, as well as Miss America, dir. Lisa Ades (PBS) and Blue Vinyl, dir. Judith Helfand and Dan Gold (HBO). She went on to edit such vérité projects as: Keeper of the Cohen, dir. David Gaynes, College Boys Live, dir. George O’Donnell, and Seeing Sally, dir. Peter Goodman, all of which played in multiple film festivals. Her television credits include Chasing the Crown (WE), The Well Seasoned Traveler, dir. George Billard (A&E), and INDIE SEX, dir. Lisa Ades (IFP). Hope is confident that her many years as an editor will serve the storytelling and narrative challenges that she will inevitably face directing this personal film.
Amanda Lundquist, Director, Pinsky
Amanda Lundquist lives in New York. Pinsky is her directing debut, which she co-wrote with Rebecca Karpovsky. Previously, she has worked in post-production for documentary film and television programming for NBC, PBS, the Wexler Oral History Project and A&E.
Roger Lyons, Director, Etched in Glass
Roger Lyons is an award-winning writer/producer/director, and a veteran of New England television. Roger worked at networks including WBZ/WSBK, WCVB, and WGBH, and now runs his own production company, Many Hats Productions. His company produces commercials and PSAs, documentaries, and other video projects. Recently, he served as the coordinating producer on the documentary Digital Man, Digital Age. Roger Lyons is national trustee from the Boston/New England Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). In 2011, he received the prestigious Governors Award for the Boston/New England Chapter. Roger also serves as adjunct professor in the communication department at Curry College. He has also written four feature screenplays and worked as a talent instructor at Boston Casting.
Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber, Speaker, Dimona Twist
Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber is an associate professor of media and journalism at Suffolk University in Boston; she earned her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Shoshana was born and raised in Israel to parents of Yemenite descent, and worked as a reporter for several years before coming to study in the U.S. in 1996. Her book Israeli Media and the Framing of Internal Conflict: The Yemenite Babies Affair was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009/2014.
Kristen McCosh, Speaker, Keep the Change
Kristen McCosh is the disability commissioner and ADA Title II coordinator for the City of Boston. In this role, she leads the city’s collaborative efforts to ensure accessibility and inclusion in all programs, policies, sidewalks, streets, and public property in Boston. She is also responsible for overseeing non-discrimination on the basis of disability, so that all Boston residents and visitors have an equal opportunity to fully participate in everything the city has to offer. Commissioner McCosh has been a local and national advocate for over 25 years, promoting equal access, inclusion, empowerment, and independent living. She is a lifelong Boston resident who graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a B.A. in English and political science, and she holds an M.A. in disability studies from the City University of New York.
Janice Page, Moderator, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Janice Page is the film editor at The Boston Globe, where she is also deputy managing editor for arts and newsroom innovation. She has been at the Globe since 2006. Previously she was an editor and writer at The Los Angeles Times and the Providence Journal, and was executive producer of MSN’s BostonSidewalk.com.
Brandon Polansky, Actor, Keep the Change
Brandon Polansky recently starred in two films (a short and feature of the same name) entitled Keep the Change, which respectively won several major awards, including the top prize for Best Narrative Feature at this year’s TriBeCa Film Festival. Keep the Change is an offbeat romantic love story about two people who meet at a support group for adults on the autism spectrum. David (played by Brandon) is an upper-class charmer struggling to hide his disabilities, while Sarah is a young woman who is totally unashamed of herself. The film shows an underrepresented community with intimacy, emotion, and humanity.
Lilly Rivlin, Director, Heather Booth: Changing the World
Lilly Rivlin is an award winning independent filmmaker based in New York. Lilly was the 2013-14 recipient of the Miller Distinguished Jewish Woman Filmmaker Award. Heather Booth: Changing the World, is Lilly’s seventh film. It is the third in a trilogy about women activists and their art. The first was the internationally acclaimed Grace Paley: Collected Shorts (2010, 74 min). The second was Esther Bronner: A Weave of Women (2014, 62 min). Her films have screened at festivals in Israel, Italy and the U.S. on television.
Judith Rosenbaum, Moderator, Heather Booth: Changing the World
Judith Rosenbaum, Ph.D., is executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a national organization that documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices, and inspires them to be agents of change. Judith earned a BA in history from Yale University, a Ph.D. 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.
Joel Rosenberg, Panelist, The Jazz Singer
Joel Rosenberg is an associate professor and co-director of Judaic studies at Tufts University.
Ara Woland, Actor/Producer, Pinksy
Ara Woland is an actor/producer based in Los Angeles. His acting career began in theater at the age of 10 in his hometown of Yerevan, Armenia. After moving to the U.S.A. in his twenties, Ara started producing and acting in films. In 2016, he won the Indie Soul Best Actor Award at the Boston International Film Festival for his performance in the Russian language period thriller 12 Kilometers, a film he also co-produced. He is better known for his controversial performance as an Armenian transsexual, Hamomile, in Welkome Home, a feature film that screened at dozens of festivals worldwide, and had a nationwide theatrical release in Russia in 2014. Later in 2015, NTV Plus aired it for millions of its viewers. His brand-new feature film Pinsky had its world premiere at Moscow International Film Festival 2017. Ara served as a producer and played the role of Victor Pinsky, one of the members of a dysfunctional Russian-Jewish family living in Boston.
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