Past Festivals - 2016 Guests

Dr. Thabet Abu Rass

Dr. Thabet Abu Rass serves as the Abraham Fund Initiative’s global Co-Executive Director, based in Israel. The Abraham Fund Initiatives is a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem, New York City and London. Named for the common ancestor of both Jews and Arabs, it is dedicated to advancing coexistence, equality and cooperation between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. The Abraham Fund works toward a prosperous, secure and just society by promoting policies based on innovative social models, conducting large-scale initiatives, advocacy and public education.

Dr. Safa Abu-Rabia

Dr. Safa Abu-Rabia is a Palestinian-Bedouin from the South of Israel. Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Anthropology department at Harvard University, Safa is Fulbright and Israel Institute Fellow for 2016-2017. Her research examines Bedouin collective memory and representations of 1948 and  the subsequent struggle over land from a gender perspective. She is a faculty member and Leadership program director at the Mandel Center for Leadership, a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College, and a social activist in the Negev. She reguarly  publishes her research as well as articles, including a regular column in the journal HaMakom.

Udi Aloni

Udi Aloni  is an Israeli American filmmaker, writer, visual artist and political activist whose works focus on the interrelationships between art, theory, and action. He is known for his works Forgiveness (2006), Junction 48 (2016) and Local Angel (2002).

Tova Ascher

Tova Ascher is a director and film editor. A.K.A Nadia is her debut feature film. Ascher’s editing credits include Time of Favor (2000), Lemon Tree (2008), Syrian Bride (2004), and The Human Resources Manager (2010). She has won numerous grants and awards including Best Film Editor, Israeli Film Academy (2000). She is currently working on her second feature film.

Miriam Awadallah

Miriam Awadallah is Development & Partnerships Manager at the OneVoice Movement. She has worked on promoting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over five years with various organizations in both the Middle East and United States. Miriam first joined the OneVoice team in 2014 where she works to develop and implement the organization’s fundraising strategy. She has previously worked with the International Crisis Group, the American Task Force on Palestine, Human Rights Watch, and the Embassy of Jordan in Washington, D.C.

Miriam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies from the George Washington University and a Master’s of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. During her studies, she completed a semester abroad at the University of Haifa in Israel. Miriam’s writing and analysis of Middle Eastern policy issues has been featured in international and domestic publications, including the Huffington Post, NOW Lebanon, and AnNahar English.

Amnon Be'eri-Sulitzeanu

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu serves as the Abraham Fund Initiative’s global Co-Executive Director, based in Israel. The Abraham Fund Initiatives is a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem, New York City and London. Named for the common ancestor of both Jews and Arabs, it is dedicated to advancing coexistence, equality and cooperation between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. The Abraham Fund works toward a prosperous, secure and just society by promoting policies based on innovative social models, conducting large-scale initiatives, advocacy and public education.

Ayelet Bechar

Ayelet Bechar is a film maker and journalist. She is a graduate of the Tel Aviv University, Department of Film and Television and of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.

Chelsey Berlin

Chelsey Berlin is the director of B’Tselem USA, an American nonprofit that builds support for the protection of human rights in the Occupied Territories. Prior to joining B’Tselem USA, Chelsey was the recipient of a Dorot Fellowship in Israel which supported her yearlong study of Jewish ritual, philosophy and political thought. Chelsey previously worked in Nablus (West Bank) for three years directing a service-learning program at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization that trained Americans to support Palestinian communities through non-formal educational programming. Chelsey earned her BA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from Brandeis University and has lived and worked in Egypt, the West Bank and Israel.

Yaniv Berman
Born in Haifa, Israel, Yaniv is a graduate student from the MFA program at the Film and Television Department, Tel-Aviv University. His short film EVEN KIDS STARTED SMALL, about school children taking over the school, was official selection of the CINÉFONDATION, Cannes Film Festival in 2006. He filmed for six years a documentary about a military company of reserve soldiers in the IDF, which was made into the award winning documentary THE ALPHA DIARIES. LAND OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE is his first narrative feature film, which like his previous works deals with the traumatic process of becoming a child-soldier in a violent militaristic society. Yaniv is also a producer and director of commercials. He lives in Israel with his wife and two daughters.

Tony Copti
Tony Copti was born in Yafa in 1980. He graduated from the College of Management, Rishon Letzion in 2002 with a civil technical engineer degree. In 2004, Tony left engineering to pursue his childhood dream of working in the film industry. Since then, Tony has worked as production manager and line producer in dozens of films, including the Academy Award-nominated film Ajami, The Golgotha Files, the award-winning  film Dissolution, and Nadav Lapid’s Policeman, which won the Grand Jury prize at Locarno. In 2011, Tony and his brother Jiries joined forces and created Fresco Films, a fresh and dynamic company that provides hands-on production services and finance structuring to films with the highest line production standards.

Mosh Danon

Mosh Danon was born in 1960 in Rehovot, Israel. He is a producer and actor, known for Ajami (2009), In Treatment (2005) and Ha-Chaim Ze Lo Ha-Kol (2001).

Dan Friedman

Dan Friedman is the managing editor of the Forward. But when he’s not doing that, he’s writing a book about the rock band Tears for Fears. Formerly the award-winning arts and culture editor of the Forward, he has also written for The New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and “Da Ali G Show.” Dan has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale and an MA in English Literature from Cambridge where he captained the university soccer team. Contact him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter at @danfriedmanme.

Betty Herschman

Betty Herschman is Director of International Relations & Advocacy at Ir Amim. She made Aliyah from Boston in 2008 to confront issues more personally tied to Jewish identity and conflict resolution and to serve as a bridge between the Jewish American and Israeli worlds. She has more than 20 years of experience in program development, advocacy, communications and organizational development.

Hanan Hillo

Hanan Hillo graduated from the theater department in Haifa University in 2004. Since then, she played a variety of roles in the theater, including Huda in Trumpet in the Valley in Haifa theater, The Trojan Women in the Cameri theater, Nora in Dollhouse in Alkassaba theater in Ramallah, Regina in Ibsen’s Ghosts in the Palestinian national theater in Jerusalem, as well as many other roles in Almidan theater in Haifa. In Television, Hanan participated in various series including “Fauda”, “The Jerusalem gate”, and “Caught in the net”. Hanan also played in films, including the role of Virgin Mary in “The Savior”, “Dog days”, and “Yasmine’s song”. Hanan is also the co-founder of Oya – a local women’s theater in Haifa.

Mais Hriesh

Mais is a flutist from Nazareth. She began playing the flute at the age of 13 at the Polyphony Conservatory (then named Barenboim-Said Conservatory) with Avichai Ornoy.

Three years later, she began studying with Roy Amotz. She took part in several master classes in Austria with Michael Kofler, in the United States with Carla Ordoniez and in Germany with Guy Eshid and Gili Schwarzman.

In 2011, she played with the Polyphony Ensemble on its first U.S. tour, performing in California, New York, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. In 2016, she performed solos with Polyphony under the direction of Zubin Mehta and Saleem Ashkar.

Today, Mais is an active chamber music player, orchestra player as well as a soloist and is completing her studies at Bard College as the recipient of a scholarship. She continues to give back to Polyphony as a musician and community volunteer.

Nurit Jacobs Yinon

Nurit Jacobs-Yinon is an independent film director and producer. She has been making movies since 1999 and founded Aluma Film Productions in 2007. Nurit directed the documentary film Nazareth Cinema Lady with the support of The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema & TV. The film was developed within the framework of the Greenhouse Euromed Audiovisual program for developing Mediterranean filmmakers supported by the E.U date, Nurit’s films have focused on women, on the relation between the spiritual and the worldly, the physical and metaphysical. The link between form and content is also explored in terms of style and cinematic language, with an emphasis on aesthetics, not only in her video art but in her documentary films as well. For over 10 years Nurit has been teaching children and adults, and lecturing in formal, informal and academic frameworks. Some lectures revolve around one specific film while others are comprised of several films that focus on one subject. Nurit has taught and lectured in every part of the country.

Eran Kolirin

Eran Kolirin is an Israeli screenwriter and film director. His directorial debut, The Band’s Visit (2007), was a critical success, winning eight Awards of the Israeli Film Academy and prizes at several international film festivals. Kolirin himself won the Israeli Film Academy’s awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay. His second film, The Exchange, was in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September 2011. His film Beyond the Mountains and Hills screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Noa Landau

Noa Landau is the editor of Haaretz English Editions (print and online) and former Head of the Haaretz News Department. Prior to Haaretz, Landau worked as a news reporter and editor at a variety of media outlets in Israel since 2001 – including Galei-Tzahal, Channel 10 and Maariv. She is also a recent alumni of The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at University of Oxford.

Itay Meirson

Itay Meirson (37) is a journalist, author and screenwriter, living and working in Tel Aviv. He has completed his B.A. and M.A at Tel Aviv University History Department – where he is working in these very days on his research as a PhD candidate. During the last six years he has been writing weekly commentary columns for the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”, dealing with local and international soccer issues, and focusing mainly on the very anatomy of the historical, sociological, political and cultural interactions and mutual reflections between the Israeli soccer and the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Author of “The 90 Minute War” (Yedioth Ahronoth Books: 2008), a speculative fiction “what if” novel, unfolding an imaginary narrative, in which the Zionist-Palestinian conflict is being resolved by a decisive soccer match between the Israeli and the Palestinian national teams, the results of which will determine the future of the land.

Michael Moore

Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American documentary filmmaker and author. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush and the War on Terror, which is the highest-grossing documentary at the American box office of all time and winner of the Palme d’Or. His film Bowling for Columbine (2002), which examines the causes of the Columbine High School massacre, won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Both Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko (2007), which examines health care in the United States, are among the top ten highest-grossing documentaries. In September 2008, he released his first free movie on the Internet, Slacker Uprising, which documented his personal quest to encourage more Americans to vote in presidential elections. He has also written and starred in the TV shows TV Nation, a satirical newsmagazine television series, and The Awful Truth, a satirical show.

Moore’s written and cinematic works criticize topics such as globalization, large corporations, assault weapon ownership, U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, President-elect Donald Trump, the Iraq War, the American health care system, and capitalism. In 2005, Time magazine named Moore one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Oren Moverman

Oren Moverman is a scriptwriter and director based in New York. His past films include I’m Not There(2007), The Messenger (2009), Rampart (2011), Time Out of Mind (2014), and Love  & Mercy (2014). His screenplay for The Messenger received multiple nominations and awards, among them the Berlinale award for Best Screenplay and the Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay.

Tamer Nafar

Tamer Nafar, is an Arab-Israeli rap artist. Tamer was born in the city of Lod, Israel in 1979. He began writing and making rap music in 1998 and in 2000 his brother Suhell and their friend Mahmoud Jrere joined him to start the first Palestinian-Arab or Arab-Israeli rap group, DAM. DAM writes and sings in the Arabic language. DAM’s work and art are influenced by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the struggle for equal rights for Palestinians or Arab-Israelis inside Israel. The group’s songs deal with social, political and personal issues. In addition to being a musician, Tamer Nafar is an actor and writer, known for Junction 48 (2016), Slingshot Hip Hop (2008) and Salt of This Sea (2008).

Alon Pdut

Alon is a veteran film, television, and theatre actor, born in Israel. After graduating in 2001 from the esteemed Beit Zvi School of Performing Arts, he landed his first lead role working with acclaimed director Eran Kolirin (The Bandʼs Visit) in his feature directorial debut, The Long Journey (2004). In 2010 Alon starred in Nir Bergmanʼs prime time drama, Towers in the Air, playing Yoav, a father and husband struggling with his place in life. In 2011 he played detective Yoni in the hit Israeli television police drama 100, directed by Amir Mann. On stage, he has played numerous roles, including a recent run as Lieutenant Kendrick in Aaron Sorkinʼs acclaimed drama A Few Good Men. In addition to acting, Alon is the Israeli commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and is considered to be the leading Israeli authority on the sport.

Samar Qupty

Samar Qupty was born on November 2, 1989. She is an actress, known for Junction 48 (2016).

Charles Randolph

Charles Randolph is an American screenwriter and producer who has worked with many important filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Milos Forman and Ridley Scott. He won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with Adam McKay for The Big Short, starring Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling. His other films include Love and Other Drugs (2010), directed by Ed Zwick with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, The Interpreter (2005) directed by Sydney Pollack with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, and The Life of David Gale (2003) directed by Alan Parker with Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney and Kate Winslet. Randolph has also developed numerous projects for television. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, the actress Mili Avital, and their children, Benjamin and Fanny.

Lani Santo
Lani has dedicated her career to social justice, human rights, building inclusive and accepting communities, and supporting individuals through transformative experiences within the Jewish community and beyond. Prior to joining Footsteps, she served as a Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she focused on immersive international service-learning experiences for young adults. Before her work at AJWS, Lani served as an AVODAH Corps Member in Washington, DC, where she was case manager for homeless women. She also served on the AVODAH Board of Directors from 2004-2013. Lani is a graduate of Barnard College and holds a Master’s Degree of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management from New York University’s Wagner School for Public Service. Lani joined Footsteps in August 2010 with a background in organizational development, fundraising, staff management, program management, and evaluation.

James Schamus
James Schamus is an award-winning screenwriter (The Ice Storm), producer (Brokeback Mountain), and former CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company whose films have included Moonrise Kingdom, Milk, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Kids are All Right, The Pianist, Coraline, and The Dallas Buyers Club. His feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s Indignation, starring Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon and Tracy Letts, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival and was released by Roadside Attractions this past summer. He is also Professor of Professional Practice in Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory. He is the author of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud: The Moving Word, published by the University of Washington Press. He earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. He recently directed the short documentary That Film About Money.

Ori Sivan

Ori Sivan, born July 30, 1963 in San Francisco, is an Israeli film and television director and screenwriter. In a career spanning over two decades, he has covered feature films, TV drama, TV movies, and documentaries. Sivan’s work has won 11 Israeli Film Academy Awards, as well as international film awards. Sivan is the co-creator of In Treatment, the first Israeli TV drama series to ever be sold for adaptation in the US (to HBO), followed by adaptation in over 20 countries. Sivan has taught film in the Israeli and US academia since 1996 and engages in writing for the Israeli written and online press. He is married to Galit Sivan, has 5 children, and lives in a community village south of Tel Aviv.

Katharina Waisburd
Katharina Waisburd was born in Berlin in 1982. She graduated from school in 2001. In 1999, she studied for in Masachusetts for one year as part of a student exchange. After two years of basic studies in Art History and Classical Archeology at the FU University Berlin, Katharina studied Audiovisual Media/ Camera at the University for Applied Sciences in Berlin, graduating in 2011. In 2009, Katharina started working as a freelancer (camera assistant, editing assistant) and she currently works on various projects as a director, videojournalist, and camerawoman. After participating in a 6-month language exchange in Tel Aviv, Katharina has been studying since October 2012 at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Holy Zoo is her diploma project as a documentary director.