Past Festivals - 2020 Guests

Suzie Afridi

Suzie was born and raised in Jericho, in the West Bank. Her dad was a welder and her mom was a farmer.  When she was fourteen her family immigrated to San Jose, California. She attended San Jose State University then pretended to be a tax professional until her husband decided on a whim to move to Dubai.  She lived in Dubai for three years doing random jobs, none of which made her Pakistani in-laws proud. In 2007, she delivered a boy in a government hospital in Dubai, she misses their food to this day. In 2008, the little family of three moved to NYC.  In 2013, she started doing stand up because no one read her blog. Last year she toured a story with The Moth and it aired on Valentine’s day this year. When she is not doing stand up, she pretends to exercise and is very busy not writing. Her long term goal is be able to entertain from bed. She is available for any kind of event, seriously, anything.  @SuzieSaysSo

Amitai Ben-Abba

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Amitai Ben-Abba is a writer, filmmaker, and activist. He is the writer and producer of the feature documentary Objector, which premiered at IDFA in 2019 and won awards at major film festivals. Amitai’s prize-winning fiction, nonfiction, and poetry appeared in a variety of publications including The Independent, Haaretz, CounterPunch, and Witness Magazine. Amitai holds an MFA from Mills College, where he attended as a Fellow in Writing and Community Engagement.

Atalya Ben-Abba

Atalya Ben-Abba was born in 1997 in Jerusalem. In Febuary of 2017, Atalya made the choice to refuse enlistment to the IDF on account of conscientious objection to the Israeli occupation of palestine. After completing her prison term and two years of volunteer service, she enrolled in the Hebrew University, where she now studies Philosophy, Anthropology, and Sociology.

Arik Bernstein

Arik Bernstein has been a leading force in the Israeli film industry for the past 20 years. He has initiated and overseen numerous documentaries, drama and documentary series, as well as a multitude of international co-productions. His films and programs have been screened in major film and TV festivals world wide, and have been awarded numerous Israeli and international prizes. In 1993, Arik established Matar Productions, later forming Alma Films in 2003.

Tzili Charney
Tzili Charney: Chairman of L.H. Charney Associates and Philanthropist. Devoting all her efforts to improving the fields of education, conflict resolution, and peace by founding the Leon Charney Resolution Center and the Leon Charney Forum on New Diplomacy base at the University of Haifa. Founder of the ZAZ10TS cultural initiative in Times Square. She is also a supporter of organizations including Aharai, Beit Hatfutsot, Florida Atlantic University’s Diplomacy Program and Yeshiva University.

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt is the Life/Features editor at the Forward. She was previously a New York-based reporter for Haaretz. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesSalon, and Tablet, among others. Avital teaches journalism at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and does pastoral work alongside her husband Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt in New York City.

Mayan Engelman

Artist-animator-director, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design graduate. The Cabinet Decision, her graduation film, was screened at the Annecy Film Festival and many other film festivals. Since then she has been creating animated shorts and developing art.
These days Mayan is working as a visual development artist at Netflix.

Lara Friedman

Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). 

Emanuele Gerosa

Emanuele Gerosa was born in 1975 in Rovereto in Italy; he graduates in Contemporary History at the university of Bologna in 2001 and the same year he begins to work as filmmaker. He has directed acclaimed short documentary films such as Kamenge Northern Quarters (2010), Lion Souls (2012). In 2015 he completes his first feature documentary Between Sisters, and in 2019 Emanuele has finished his new film called One More Jump, produced by Graffiti Doc (Italy) and co-produced by RAI Cinema (Italy) and Amka Films Production (Switzerland). During the last years Emanuele has been part as member of the jury in several documentary and film festivals.

Amos Gitai

Amos Gitaï was born in 1950 in Haifa. He belongs to the first generation born after the foundation of the State of Israel, which was also strongly influenced by the major anti-establishment youth movements of the 1960s. After receiving a PhD in architecture from the University of Berkeley (California), Amos Gitaï devoted his first film, House (1980), to the construction of a house in West Jerusalem. He directed a three-city trilogy: Devarim, shot in Tel Aviv (1995), Yom Yom in Haifa (1998) and Kadosh in Jerusalem (1999). Four of his films were shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival (KadoshKippurKedma, and Free Zone), and a further six at the Mostra in Venice (Berlin-JerusalemEdenAlilaPromised LandAna Arabia, and Yitzhak Rabin: the Last Day). Amos Gitaï’has received numerous awards, and retrospectives of his complete works have been presented at numerous institutions worldwide.

Shuki Guzik

Shuki Guzik is a Cinematographer and documentary filmmaker, a graduate of the Department of Film at Sapir College.  For the past twenty years, Shuki has been directing and filming TV shows and documentary projects for all broadcast channels in Israel. As part of his work as a Cinematographer, he was a partner in some of the most interesting and challenging documentary projects in Israel (“Yonatan Agassi Saved My Life”, “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?”). As a director, he has mainly directed TV series and documentary projects for the broadcast channels in Israel.

Shadi Habib Allah

Shadi Habib Allah was born in 1985, in Nazareth. Prior to his film studies, he received his bachelor’s degree from Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid – Jordan, where he studied architecture.
He began his studies at The Sam Spiegel Film & TV School, Jerusalem in 2015. The Fifth Season, 2015 is his first year film. The Bride’s Tree and Swing, 2017 are his third year films

Gazala Halabi

Gazala Halabi is the creator of Gazala’s Restaruant which celebrates her heritage as an Israeli Druze. The Druze is a religious minority that lives in harmony in Israel.

Gazala’s fondest memories in life have come from her upbringing in Daliat el- Carmel, Israel. As a young girl, growing up in Israel, where her family operates a restaurant and her grandmother owns a spice shop she creates the food she grew up eating. Gazala prepares all dishes from scratch using imported spices, herbs and olive oil from Lebanon. Her recipes have been handed down from generations. Gazala prepares all of her food with the same pride and heart as her grandmother did.

Tsahi Halevi

Tsahi Halevi is an Israeli film, TV and theater actor, singer, dancer. In 2012 he began his acting career, appearing on plays at Habima Theatre and Haifa Theater. In 2013, Halevi starred in the drama film Bethlehem, Ophir Award winner for Best Picture. In February 2015, the political-thriller television series Fauda first aired on YES. In it Halevi portrays ‘Naor’, a member of a Mista’arvim unit. He later appeared in the 2015 drama film The Kind Words as ‘Rikki’.

Photo credit: Tal Shachar

Inbar Horesh

Inbar Horesh studied filmmaking at Minshar Film Academy, where she is teaching directing courses for the last 4 years. Her graduation film, THE VISIT (Cannes official selection – Cinefondation selection 2014) participated in over 50 international festivals and was nominated to the Ofir Awards. Her documentary film CROSSING was shown in festivals around the world and her short film TAXI was shown at the 2015 long short film festival in Tel Aviv. Her recent short film BIRTH RIGHT won the award for Best Live Action Short Over 15 Minutes at the 2020 Palm Springs ShortFest. Nowadays she’s developing her debut feature film with the same name which won the support of the major film funds in Israel, and creating a TV series for the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Francine Klagsbrun

Francine Klagsbrun’s most recent book, Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, was named the 2017 Book of the Year by the National Jewish Book Awards. Her previous book, The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day, was a National Jewish Book Award finalist. She is the author of a dozen other works, and was Editor of the best-selling Free To Be…You and Me, produced by Marlo Thomas and the Ms. Foundation. She was a columnist for the Jewish Week for more than twenty years and has contributed articles to many national publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Moment, and Ms. Magazine.  She is currently working on a biography of Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, to be published by Yale University Press.

Libby Lenkinski

Libby is the Vice President for Public Engagement at the New Israel Fund, where she leads all aspects of NIF’s public efforts in the United States – including communications, digital, programs, events, leadership, community partnerships and engagement, New Generations and our fellowships. Prior to joining NIF, Libby lived and worked in the Israeli non-profit field for almost a decade.

Itzik Lerner

1988-1991 Cinema studies at Camera Obscura
1994-2018 Teacher and lecturer of Film Directing at Sapir College and Adasa College.

Filmography includes Megiddo (Other Israel 2019), God’s MessengersHoly BloodYes, Miss Commander, and more.

Mor Loushy

Mor Loushy graduated from Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in 2007 and has been working as a freelancer ever since. Her debut film, Israel Ltd, had its world premiere at IDFA 2009 (Yes, VPRO, Radio-Canada, Knowledge- Canada) and has been broadcast in 10 countries worldwide (Yleisradio OY, VRT, RTVS-Slovenia, Radio Télévision Suisse, Planete Poland). Her latest documentary film Censored Voices (2015) has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale and is expected to release theatrically this fall.

Shaul Magid

Shaul Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College and Kogod Senior Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. His two latest books are The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the Gospel, and Piety and Rebellion: Essay in Hasidism, both published in 2019. His forthcoming book Meir Kahane: An American Jewish Radical will be published with Princeton University Press is 2021. He i also the rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Seaview, NY.

Adi Mishnayot

Adi Mishnayot is a writer and director based in Tel Aviv. She studied at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. Image of Victory, her debut short documentary, has won numerous awards in Israel including a nomination for the Israeli Oscars and is screening at festivals in Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Brazil. Adi is currently working on a short fiction film.

Farah Nabulsi

Farah Nabulsi, is a Palestinian British filmmaker. She left the corporate world in 2016 to pursue her interest in film as a writer & producer of short fiction films, exploring Palestine related topics that matter to her.
In 2019, she directed her first film, The Present, which she also co-wrote. The film stars renowned Palestinian actor, Saleh Bakri. It premiered at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Film at the festival. It had its North American premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival, where it won the Jury Award for Best Live Action Short.

Navid Negahban

Known as “the man of a thousand faces,” Iranian-born Navid Negahban started his career on the stage in Germany before embarking on Hollywood. Negahban garnered critical acclaim for his role “Abu Nazir” on the Emmy® Award-winning series Homeland.
Negahban’s film credits include Disney’s remake of Aladdin, Twelve Strong, American Assassin, Damascus Cover, Baba Joon, and American Sniper. His extensive and diverse television portfolio consists of the portrayal of “Amahl Farouk/The Shadow King” on FX’s Legion, making him the first Farsi speaking character in the Marvel Universe. He has also guest starred in classics such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Law & Order: SVU, Veep, CSI:NY, The Closer, The West Wing, and more.
Negahban received a historic BAFTA nomination in 2017 for his performance as “Hajj Agha” in the video game “1979 Revolution: Black Friday,” marking the first time a Middle Eastern and Muslim actor has been nominated in this category.
In 2019 he started Romany Road Artist Foundation, a safe haven celebrating artistry, built by artists for artists.

Udi Nir

Udi Nir is a writer, director and producer. His first feature documentary was #uploading_holocaust (2016, DocAviv, DOK Leipzig, Krakow Film Festival, Dokfest Munich, BR, RBB, ORF, Keshet). Before turning to filmmaking he studied at the school of playwriting in Tel-Aviv, wrote and directed theater shows, and worked as a producer for verius theaters and dance companies  in Tel Aviv.

Nataliya Olshanskaya

Nataliya Olshanskaya is a Russian-Israeli film actress. Born and raised in Moscow, at the age of 24 she moved to Israel to study filmmaking at the University of Tel Aviv. Made her professional acting debut in the short film “Birthright”, in which she played the leading role and for which she also helped to develop the script. Represented by Perry Kafri Actors Agency.

Noa Osheroff

Noa Osheroff is an Israeli writer, director, and a producer based in New York. She’s a graduate of the Film Department at Tel Aviv University. Her two short films: “One from Afar” (2011) and “Cherries” (2013) played in festivals around the world. Most recently, Noa worked as a staff writer for the new series “The New Jerusalem”, produced by UFA, to be filmed in Germany. Her most recent short film as a writer/director, “Sofa So Good” starring Hiam Abbass (Succession) ,is currently on the festival circuit. Noa is the founder of “Speak American”, a highly acclaimed monthly stand-up comedy show in Brooklyn focusing on recent immigrants to the US and their stories.

David Osit
DAVID OSIT is an Emmy Award-winning director, editor and composer. His most recent film Mayor has been selected for over forty film festivals worldwide and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Full Frame Film Festival and the Next:Wave Award at CPH:DOX.
David directed, produced, edited, filmed and composed the feature documentary THANK YOU FOR PLAYING, which broadcast on POV in 2016 and was nominated for three Emmy awards, winning for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary. He also edited and produced OFF FRAME, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and Berlinale in 2016, and he edited, produced and composed NO MAN’S LAND, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on PBS Independent Lens in 2018.

Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin is best known for his work in musical theatre, originating iconic roles such as Che in the original Broadway production of Evita. He has appeared in television series such as Chicago Hope, Dead Like Me, Criminal Minds, and Homeland. His best-known film role was as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride (1987) and other film roles include Alien Nation (1988), Yentl (1983), and Dick Tracy (1990).

Eliran Peled

Award-winning director and producer Eliran Peled has directed 14 shorts including Happy Birthday Mr.Brown (2018) which screened in over 40 festivals, was a finalist in the Open Toronto Festival 2019 and won the Best Short Award at the West Hollywood Awards 2018. Peled is the youngest director ever in Israel to receive the main government fund to direct his first feature film Euphoria-Victory Year. Currently, he is a producer on the Israeli TV show Dear Diary and in pre-production for a new documentary TV series. He is also working as a producer and content developer in the Israeli production company Sumayoko, which produced the Cannes Series-winning show On The Spectrum. Eliran served in “Cinema Rex” also as a writer and producer.

Nitzan Rozen

Nitzan Rozen, director and script writer, was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Kfar Warburg, a village in the south of Israel. She graduated with honors from The Sam Spiegel Film School in 2017, and directed 2 short fiction films. Fair Play, won the directing prize in her film school and was screened in Israel and Germany, Cracks, her graduation film premiered in Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, in October 2018. Home Constructors is her first documentary film, which screened in October 2019 in Cinemed Montpellier, Festival du Nouveau Cinema Montreal, and in Asiatica Film Festival, Rome.

Ilan Rubin Fields

Filmmaker and activist. Born and raised in Jerusalem. Graduated with Honors from the Minshar for the Arts film department. Was the D.O.P of the musical documentary Yehu Yaron – The Self Deception Artist, and his graduation film A New Home, aired on the Yes-Docu channel in 2018. His short film Waiting for You won an honorable mention award at the independent competition of the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival 2020.
The Prophet is Ilan’s debut feature length documentary film

Jalal Saad

Saad studied in Beit Jann Elementary School till the 8th grade. He then moved to Rama High School where he had to drop out of the school only one month later. In 1993, he joined Beit Jann Comprehensive School as a computer and electronics teacher. During his teaching career in the school he continued his studies in various areas including getting his first degree (BA) in Psychology, a second degree (MA) in Organizational consulting in Educational Institutions.
During his work at the school he held different positions such as the position of a pedagogical director and deputy principal. Since 2019 he has been the principal of Beit Jann High School which now has a 100 percent graduation rate.

Shifra Sered

Shifra Sered currently serves as J Street’s Associate Regional Director for the Tristate and Pennsylvania where she focuses on growing J Street’s political and Jewish communal impact in New York State. She was previously the Resource Development and Advocacy Coordinator for Gisha- Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, a leading Israeli human rights organizations promoting freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. She was also a New Israel Fund Social Justice Fellow where she supported NIF grantees that facilitated joint Jewish and Palestinian partnership and activism.

Erica Shaps

Erica Shaps is the Program and Resources Manager at the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues. In this capacity, she develops educational opportunities and written resources regarding Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish Arab relations for American Jewish communal organizations.

She is a trained facilitator and mediator. Erica received her BA from Brandeis University in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies and an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in International Law and Diplomacy as a Wexner Fellow

Yona Shem-Tov

Yona Shem-Tov is the Executive Director of Encounter.
Yona has worked as a Jewish educator for over 20 years. Prior to joining Encounter in 2011, Yona pursued grad­uate studies at The Hebrew University and doctoral research in Education and Jewish Studies at New York University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. While at NYU, she co-founded a national program linking scholars and prac­titioners of Jewish History Education, and helped launch the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship — an initia­tive of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation linking Muslim and Jewish social entre­pre­neurs from France, the U.K. and the U.S.

Tomer Shushan

Writer and a film director from Israel. Graduated from the Film Department of Minshar School of Art, Tel Aviv, with Excellence scholarship 2016.
Directed “Inside Shells” (short, 2017) screened in FIPA and Sau Paulo international short film festival among others. “White Eye” his second short, won the Best Narrative Short Jury Award in SXSW 2020 and the Best International Short Fiction Award in the Galway Film Fleadh. Currently developing his first feature film “Between the sacred and the secular” and the Israeli TV series “Torso”.

Omer Sterenberg‎

Omer Sterenberg, a third-year student in Sam Spiegel Film & TV School – Jerusalem,
was born in 1992 in Haifa and grew up in Zikhron Ya’akov. This is his first film.

Molly Stuart

Molly is a director, producer, and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was a 2018 Women, Peace, and Security Fellow and a 2019 resident with SFFILM. While earning an MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University, Molly won the Bill Nichols Excellence in Cinema Award, the Canon Best in Show Award, the Spotlight on Women in Film Award, and the Barbara Hammer Award. She has also won several film festival awards including Best Documentary, Best Interfaith Film, Best International Documentary, Best Short, and Best Young Women Storyteller Award. Molly’s film work asks questions about how change is made and casts an intimate light on people involved in social movements.

Zipora Trope

Tzipi Trope is an Israeli writer, director, and producer. Her films have been broadcast on Israeli TV, on the Israeli Cable channels “Hot” and “Yes”, on H.B.O, on Life Time Channel and theatrical. Her films’ awards include winning the Israeli Oscar for “Tel Aviv Berlin” in Best Israeli Film, Best Script, Best Art direction, and Best Supporting Actress categories.
She graduated from the Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv University. She has a Masters and PhD in Film and Television from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Tzipi was the Head of the Film Program at Haifa University and she taught at the Columbia University Graduate Film Department and at New York University-Tisch, Undergraduate Film and Television and Dramatic Writing departments. She is married and the mother of three children.

Batya Ungar-Sargon

Batya Ungar-Sargon is the Opinion Editor at the Forward. She came to the Forward from VinePair, where she was the Managing Editor.

Itamar Wigoder

Itamar is the National Program Director at the New Israel Fund, where he produces and manages the organization’s events and programs in-person and online. He has a varied professional background, which includes, the United Nations, the NYC Mayor’s Office, and award-winning restaurants. A Tel-Aviv native, and current Brooklyn resident, Itamar is a long-time human rights and peace activist. He holds a BA from Tel Aviv University and an MPA from New York University.

Orin Wolf

Orin Wolf is the Tony-Award winning producer of the Broadway musical, The Band’s Visit. His additional Broadway producing credits include: Fiddler on the Roof (Tony Nominated), Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Tony Nominated), Orphans (Tony Nominated), Once (Tony Winner), and A View From the Bridge (Tony Nominated). He is the president of NETworks Presentations and was the initial recipient of T-Fellowship for Creative Producing at Columbia University, under the guidance of Hal Prince, and now serves as the program’s director.

Ronen Zaretzky

Director and Photographer
Graduate of Camera Obscura School of Film and Television Tel Aviv. His filmography includes: The Gang that Never Was –1999, The Last Fighters – 2006, Displaced  – 2008, The Last Moment People – 2011, Super Women – 2013, Child Mother2016, One Hundred Percent –  2019, The Three Yossi – 2020

Maya Zinshtein

Maya Zinshtein is an Emmy award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker and journalist with a BA in Cinema and French studies and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. Her last documentary “Forever Pure” won an Emmy award for Outstanding Politics and Government documentary in 2018 (Independent Lens/PBS).
An alumna of Sundance Institute, for the last ten years she has directed and produced documentaries broadcast on Israeli TV and abroad including by Netflix, BBC, ARTE/ZDF, and PBS, and screened at over 100 festivals around the world.

Maria Zreik

Born in Haifa, Maria began acting at the age of 11. She got her her first major role, young Jawda, on the BBC series “The Promise” whens he was 17. She then landed the lead role in Villa Touma (2014) for which she got international recognition and a Best actress award at the MedFilmFestival (MFF) in Italy.

Dina Zvi Riklis

Graduated from the Department of Theater at Tel Aviv University.

Filmography includes Ma’abarot, The Fifth HeavenThree MothersThe Witch from Melchet StreetLevana My Darling, and more.