Past Festivals - 2021 Guests

Beejhy Barhany

Beejhy Barhany is an entrepreneur, and activist, who was born in Ethiopia, raised in Israel and currently resides in New York. She is the founder of BINA Cultural Foundation non-profit dedicated to celebrating and advocating for Ethiopian Jews in North America, which produced the Sheba Film Festival from 2003 to 2019, highlighting Ethiopian and African Jewry arts and films.
Today, she is the chef and owner of an eclectic Ethiopian restaurant, Tsion Café, that incorporates cuisine from the many places that have been influential on her journeys

Aalam-Warqe Davidian

Award winning script writer and director, born in 1979 in Awash, Ethiopia, Aalam-Warqe Davidian moved to Israel in 1991. She graduated from Sam Spiegel Film & Television School. In 2012 Aalam-Warqe along with Kobi Davidian co-funded Black and White films. In 2016 her short fiction film FACING THE WALL won Best Short Film 33rd Jerusalem International Film Festival. As her other short fiction film TRANSITIONS has screened in festivals around the world. Aalam-Warqe’s 2018 debut feature-length drama FIG TREE screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Eurimages Audentia Award for Best Female Director. HONEY TRAP her current documentary is still in production.

Kobi Davidian

Kobi Davidian, director and producer, was born in 1980 in Jerusalem, Israel. He graduated from the Arts and Cinema program at Tel Aviv University in 2006. Kobi has worked as a researcher and a producer for different TV shows and documentary films before starting his career as an independent filmmaker. In 2012 he co-funded Black and White films along with Aalam-Warqe Davidian. His documentary TURBULENCE (2011, 83min, YesDocu) and short fiction TRANSITIONS (2016) films were screened and won prizes in festivals around the world. In 2018, he produced and directed a testimonial archive, MEMORIES OF ETHIOPIA, for the Israeli national archive. HONEY TRAP his current documentary is still in production.

Orit Fouks Rotem

Orit was born in Israel in 1983. She graduated from the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel School with honors in 2012, winning her class’ ‘Promising Director’ Award. Her diploma film “Staring Match” was screened in festivals all over the world, including: San Sebastian, Montreal, Munich and won the Grand Prix award at the Hangzhao Festival in China, Best Screenplay Award at Tel Aviv Student Film Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

After graduating, Orit co-directed a documentary series for the Israeli Channel YES Doco; worked as a film facilitator and director for Israeli NGO, making films with at-risk youth; worked as a filmmaking teacher of groups of women in Acres and Givat Haviva. She also conducted research for a documentary by the Oscar-award-winning director Alex Gibney, and wrote and directed two short fiction films – “You Remain Silent”, that was a part of the Abraham Heffner tribute “Voice Over” and premiered in Sarajevo and Jerusalem Film Festival 2018 and The MOMA, and “Veil” that that was selected to various festivals around the world including The Oslo Short Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival and Brussels Short Film Festival.


Gili Getz

Gili Getz is an Israeli-American photojournalist, actor, and peace activist. He served as a military photographer for the IDF and as a news editor for Ynet. His work in recent years has been focusing on American Jewish political activism and he is published regularly in Jewish and Israeli press, and by Princeton University in the book “Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel” by Professor Dov Waxman. His photography book, expected to come out next year, will look at the American Jewish left over the last decade.

Gili performed across the country in numerous theatrical productions and was the recipient of the Kirk Douglas scholarship. His latest play “The Forbidden Conversation” focuses on the difficulty of the Israel/Palestine conversation within the American Jewish community. The play premiered at the Center For Jewish History in the spring of 2016 and is performed in Jewish spaces ever since.

Ori Givati

Ori Givati grew up in Emek Hefer, Israel. During high school, Ori spent two years studying at UWC Costa Rica. Upon his return to Israel, he served in the Armored Corps of the IDF from November 2010 – 2013. Ori completed a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science at the Open University. He joined Breaking the Silence as an interviewer and now serves as the organization’s Advocacy Director.

Esther Hertog

Born in Amsterdam and raised from age 11 to 24 in Israel. In 2002 she moved back to the Netherlands to study Cultural Anthropology at Amsterdam University, and in 2008 she graduated MA at Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at Manchester University. Esther’s focus was nationalism, identity & education, related to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
As a visual anthropologist Esther attempts to “step into the shoes” of her protagonists in an attempt to gain a better understanding of their worldview and capture it from an insider’s point of view. She directs, films, researches and edits, and between independent films, works for Dutch TV as freelance researcher, producer and camerawomen.

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 has been selected to be screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Nadav Lapid

NADAV LAPID is a writer and director born in Tel-Aviv. He studied philosophy at the University in Tel-Aviv, French literature in Paris and cinema at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem. His first feature film, POLICEMAN, won numerous awards in festivals, such as the Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival in 2011 and the Best Film award at the BAFICI and at the San Francisco International Film Festival. His second feature film, THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, an Israeli-French coproduction, was the revelation of the 2014 Critics’ week in Cannes.

The film won more than twenty international awards and was successfully released in various countries, among which France and the United States. His latest medium-length film, FROM THE DIARY OF A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, had a special screening at the 55th Critics’ week in Cannes. Nadav Lapid’s last film, SYNONYMS, won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 2019. His last movie AHED’S KNEE, coproduced by France, Germany and Israel, won the Jury Price in Cannes 2021.

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.

Avi Mograbi

​​Filmmaker and artist born in 1956, lives in Tel Aviv. Filmography: The first 54 years – an abbreviated manual for military occupation (2021), Between Fences (2016), Once I entered a garden (2012), Z32 (2008), Avenge but one of my two eyes (2005), August (2002), Happy Birthday Mr. Mograbi (1999), How I learned to overcome my fear and love Arik Sharon (1997), The Reconstruction (1994).

Ruby Namdar

Ruby Namdar was born and raised in Jerusalem to a family of Iranian-Jewish heritage. His first book, Haviv (2000), won The Ministry of Culture’s Award for Best First Publication. His novel The Ruined House has won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters and teaches Jewish literature, focusing on Biblical and Talmudic narrative.

Yair Qedar

Israeli filmmaker and a civil-rights activist. His academic training on 20th-century Hebrew literature, propelled him into The Hebrews — a documentary project on the Hebrew and Jewish literary canon, centered on filmic portraits of Hebrew writers from the 17 century to recent days. Sixteen feature-length documentary films were made in the project so far winning over 18 awards.

Rami Rabayah

Rami Rabayah is founding member of Zimam. Since the genesis of the grassroots movement, he has led town hall meetings for thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank, exploring the toughest issues in the peace process. 43 years old, born in Beirut, Rami is a Palestinian from a long-established rural family in Jenin (West Bank). In the West Bank Rami’s professional career might best be described as a rural development executive. In 2006, he created the first sheep selection and multiplication unit in the West Bank. It aimed to preserve the ancient genetics of Palestinian cattle, and to provide farmers with improved sheep to increase productivity and farmers income. In 2009, as a senior programs manager and consultant, he participated in the Palestinian State building process and worked to improve his community livelihood conditions.

In 2015, Rami moved to New York seeking a new experience and ample distance to reshape his vision for Palestine. Hocked by the economic dynamism, diversity and culture of tolerance of “The Empire City”, Rami grabbed every single opportunity to support the peace process; from connecting people of different background to raising funds to support peace initiatives in Palestine. In 2018, Rami launched #1plate4peace; a dining experience that aims to bring Arabs and Jewish to support peace building activities. He is also a Licensed Realtor and Senior Real Estate Advisor in New York City.

Samira Saraya

Polygraph is her first short film as a director. Samira has a Film Studies degree from Tel-Aviv University.

Select acting roles include:
“30 shekel per hour” the series written by Yossi Madmony and directed by Sari Ezouz Berger and David Ofek. Samira starred as the main character, Amal. The series won Israeli Academy Award for Best TV Series in 2012.
Self Made, written and directed by Shira Geffen. Samira starred as the supporting actress, Nadin. Film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2014.

Karen S. Shapiro

Partners for Progressive Israel’s Vice President Karen S. Shapiro has a diverse and extensive background producing award-winning film, television, theatre and music throughout the world. Her feature films include the the critically acclaimed documentary, “Eva Hesse” (which in addition to garnering a worldwide theatrical release was chosen to be included in the PBS series “American Masters”), the film festival hit, “Beat the Drum”, the romantic comedy, “The Neighbor” and the drama “The Low Life”. Her short films include the Academy Award winning “Violet”, “The Hero” and the two Holocaust documentaries, “Awake and Sing” and “Together As One.” Karen has produced many television movies including the Emmy Award winning “Other Mothers”, “Between Mother and Daughter”, winner of the prestigious Humanitas Award, “Private Affairs”, winner of the American Women in Media Award, “Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story”, “Chance of a Lifetime” and “To Face Her Past”. Karen was the Senior Producer overseeing the development, production and post-production of the reality series “Unsolved Mysteries” as well as the syndicated reality series “Arrest and Trial”. Her numerous theatre credits include the original musical tribute, “Woman of Valor”. She has produced several recordings of Jewish music as well as concerts including the much acclaimed orchestral piece “Liberation ’95”, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of Nazi-occupied Europe, with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Karen is currently producing two documentaries, “Michelle Stuart: Voyager” and “Beyond the Cliff: Navigating Autistic Adulthood” through her company bdks productions (  She is the proud wife of Syud Sharif and mom of Benjamin and David.

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.

Ran Tal

Ran Tal is an independent director. His films present a view of Israeli reality through a social and historical perspective. His films won many awards in Israel and abroad. Among Ran’s most prominent films are “What If. Ehud Barak on war and peace” (2021). “The Museum” (2017). “The Garden of Eden” (2012). “Children of the Sun”(2007). “67 Ben Tsvi Road” (1998). “My Dream House” (2005), “Skin Deep”(1996).
Tal Is the Editor of “TAKRIV” a journal of documentary cinema. He is the Head of the International MFA Documentary Film Program at the Tish Film School in Tel Aviv University and teaches cinema Sapir College.

Michal Weits

Michal Weits is an Israeli documentary director and producer, studied at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School. Former head producer of the leading Israeli documentary Channel 8 (HOT network), in charge of highly acclaimed films: “The Law in These Parts”, “5 Broken Cameras”, “The Flat”, and many more. In 2013 Weits Founded ‘Tape Runners’, an independent production company. ‘Tape Runners’ titles include: Production: “WALL” (director: Moran Ifergan), winner for the best documentary, DocAviv film festival 2017. Distribution: “The Decent One”, “No Place on Earth” and more. BLUE BOX is Weits’ debut film as a director.