Past Festivals - 2022 Guests

Moshe Alafi

Moshe Alafi, 56, film director, producer and creator since 1990. Among his films: Naf a Street Kid, Questions of Life and Death, and the series Community in a new light, 50 Years 50 Faces, and more. A longtime teacher at Maaleh Film School in Jerusalem, 11th generation Jerusalemite, and grandfather of four.

May Arow

May Arow is the Director of The Abraham Initiatives’ Language as a Cultural Bridge program. She develops and implements Arabic language courses as an entry point to Arab culture and society for influential groups of Israelis including Hebrew language media outlets, Israeli corporations institutions, higher education staff, and city council members. May also played a key role in the development of The Abraham Initiatives’ Ya Salam Initiative, which trains and places Arab educators to teach spoken Arabic in Jewish schools and was adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2017. Outside of The Abraham Initiatives, May is a published children’s book author, and has translated several others from English and Hebrew to Arabic. She also writes for Haaretz and regularly contributes op-eds that engage the Jewish public with Arab culture.

Michal Aviad

Acclaimed documentary and narrative filmmaker, Michal Aviad was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She completed her BA in literature and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and her MA at San Francisco State University. Through the 1980s, she lived in San Francisco, where she began making films. Since returning to Israel, she has continued to write, direct and produce films. She has directed two fiction films and eight documentaries. Aviad’s films tackle issues of ethnicity, class, gender and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from women’s perspectives. Michal Aviad is a full professor at Tel Aviv University’s Tisch School of Cinema and Television. In January 2020 Aviad was awarded the prestigious Landau Award for Arts and Sciences, which cited her as “One of the most important directors in the history of Israeli cinema.”

Suhad Babaa

Suhad Babaa is a producer, news publisher, and the Executive Director & President of Just Vision. Suhad produced Boycott (2021) and executive produced Naila and the Uprising (2017). She is also the co-publisher of the award-winning Hebrew-language news site, Local Call. Additionally, Suhad helped lead the impact campaigns for Just Vision’s critically acclaimed film, Budrus (2009), which was recognized with the Doc Society Social Impact Award in 2012, as well as the Peabody award-winning documentary, My Neighbourhood (2012), which has since helped support a global campaign to save Sheikh Jarrah, the community that sits at the heart of the film. Her work has been featured by institutions including TED, Tate Britain and the Nobel Women’s Initiative and highlighted in outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Yedioth Ahronoth, PBS, BBC, Channel 2 News (Israel), Ma’an News, Al QudsThe Forward and beyond. Suhad is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, and Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Julia Bacha

Julia Bacha is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker and the Creative Director at Just Vision. She started her filmmaking career in Cairo, where she wrote and edited Control Room (Sundance 2004), for which she was nominated to the Writer’s Guild of America Award. Subsequently, she directed Encounter Point (Tribeca 2006), Budrus (Berlinale 2009), My Neighbourhood (Tribeca 2012), and Naila and the Uprising (IDFA 2017). Julia’s films have been broadcast on PBS, HBO, CBC in Canada, among others. In addition to over thirty film festival awards, Julia is the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Film Prize, the 2012 Doc Society Creative Impact Award, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2017 Columbia University Medal of Excellence, and the 2019 Chicken & Egg Award.

Assaf Banitt

Assaf Banitt is an award-winning Israeli documentary film director and editor. His first film, Against Your Will, won the special jury mention at the Docaviv festival and his second film, The Soldier’s Opinion, participated in the Jerusalem Film Festival. He is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television school and the MFA program at Tel Aviv University’s department of Film and Television.

Jeremy Dov Barcan
Barcan was born in Tel Aviv in 1952 and served in the Israeli Air Force between 1971 and 1975, primarily as a field security non-commissioned officer. He completed studies with a BA degree at Bar-Ilan University in Linguistics. As a young Israeli gay activist, he co-founded in 1976 The Agudah (the gay liberation organization) and was involved in social outreach until 1981. He moved to California, USA in 1981, working at The Hebrew Academy of San Francisco and then changed careers from Education to the travel industry. Currently, Barcan is semi-retired, living with his domestic partner and best friend of 28 years.

Michale Boganim

Born in Haifa, Michale Boganim grew up in Israel, in a Moroccan family. Her father was in the Israeli black panther movement. She studied philosophy at the Hebraic University of Jerusalem and later political science and anthropology at the Sorbonne, where Jean Rouch directed her Master’s degree. She is a graduate of the National Film School in London. Her student film DIM MEMORIES was selected in Director’s Fortnight, Cannes 2002 and won the Gras Savoye Award. In 2005, Boganim’s ODESSA ODESSA, a documentary feature, screened at Sundance and won the CICAE Prize in the Berlin Film Festival. The film screened in more than 50 festivals internationally and was distributed in many territories. Her first fiction feature, LAND OF OBLIVION starring Olga Kurylenko, premiered in both Venice and Toronto Film Festival 2011 and screened in over 50 international festivals to critical acclaim.

Daniel Carsenty

Daniel Carsenty’s first film, After Spring Comes Fall, premiered in 2016 at GIFF in Göteborg and won the Award for Best Feature at Zsigmond Vilmos Festival in Sziget, Hungary. He worked as a TV journalist for ARTE and BBC Arabic in the Middle East before moving to Los Angeles in 2019 where he holds a directing fellowship at the American Film Institute. His second feature The Devil’s Drivers premiered at TIFF and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2021. Currently, he is dividing his time between preparing his third feature and teaching film development at the Raindance Institute in London, UK and the IAFM in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Daniel Chalfen

Chalfen is a Peabody, duPont and Critics’ Choice-winning and multiple-Emmy nominated film and television producer and a co-founder of Naked Edge Films. His recent films include Loudmouth (executive produced by John Legend) being released in theaters later this year; Captains of Zaatari for Hulu; the Netflix Original Pray Away executive produced by Jason Blum & Ryan Murphy; the Sundance 2019 award-winners The Infiltrators and Always in Season for PBS; the Tribeca 2018 award-winners United Skates (executive produced by John Legend) for HBO and Bathtubs Over Broadway (executive produced by David Letterman) released by Focus Features; and Silenced (executive produced by Susan Sarandon) for DirectTV and Netflix. Chalfen is a Documentary Branch member of AMPAS and a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Kobi Cohen

Kobi Cohen is an Israel Educator, and founder and host of the Podcast BALAGN that discusses Israeli Politics and society. A Jerusalemite born and raised, he moved to New York in 2010 with his wife, Michal, and their two sons. Kobi’s passion for Israel led him on a path toward working in Israel education here in the United States. His main hope living in the United States is to promote learning and understanding of what is happening in Israel and to help reduce the gaps between diaspora Jewish communities and Israelis.

Helen C. Evans

Dr. Helen C. Evans is the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator Emerita at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2000, she installed the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Byzantine Art, the first dedicated to Byzantium in a comprehensive museum. She also curated a body of major, award winning exhibitions exploring Byzantium and related cultures – The Glory of Byzantium (1997), Byzantium: Faith and Power (2004), Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (2012), and Armenia! (2018). Her work recognizes the Jewish presence in Byzantium. She has taught and published widely. Dr. Evans is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.

Steven Fine

Steven Fine, director of the YU Israelite Samaritans Project, is the Churgin Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and director of the YU Center for Israel Studies. A cultural historian of ancient Judaism, Fine’s books include: The Menorah: From the Bible to Modern Israel (Harvard University Press, 2016) and Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology (Cambridge, 2005, 2nd. ed. 2010), which received the 2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award of the Association for Jewish Studies. Fine is the originator and academic advisor for this documentary, curator of the associated traveling exhibition and editor of the celebratory volume. In 2013 he received the Samaritan Medal for Samaritan Studies.

Noam Gil

Noam Gil’s plays were produced and performed at the Habima National Theater, Beer Sheva Theater and The Kvutsat Avoda Ensemble. He holds a doctorate from Tel Aviv University where he teaches courses on Creative Writing and Jewish American Culture and Literature. Gil wrote and co-directed the film version of his play Lady Amar.

Ido Glass

Ido Glass is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem. He has been creating, editing, writing scripts and working as a freelance director. He specializes in documentaries dealing with social, human and historical issues surrounding Israeli society. One of the most prominent of his films, Elkana Code, follows the lives of young people attending an elite Yeshiva in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The films he produced were exhibited in festivals and television networks in Israel and around the world. Ido is a member of Kibbutz Palmachim on the Mediterranean coast. He is married and a father of three.

Brian Hauss

Brian Hauss is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, where he focuses on free expression issues. Since joining the ACLU in 2012, he has litigated cases defending the free speech rights of labor unions, writers and journalists, activists, advocacy groups, media organizations, and private citizens at all levels of the federal and state court systems. He has served as lead counsel or counsel in ACLU lawsuits challenging anti-BDS laws in Kansas, Arizona, Texas, and Arkansas. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

Shay Hazkani

Shay Hazkani is an Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021), and the co-creator of The Soldier’s Opinion, a documentary based on his research. Shay received his PhD in History and Judaic studies from New York University, his Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. Prior to his academic career, Shay worked as a journalist covering the West Bank and Israeli military.

Margo Hughes-Robinson

Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson (she/her) is the New York Rabbinic Organizer at T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2021, where she also earned an MA in Midrash and served for two years as the Program Coordinator of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue. While in rabbinical school Margo served a number of communities and organizations, including as a Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun, a member of the UN Women working group, and as a T’ruah Israel Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife and their son.

Annette Insdorf

Annette Insdorf is Professor of Film at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and Moderator of the popular “Reel Pieces” series at Manhattan’s 92Y, where she has interviewed almost 300 film celebrities. She is the author of the landmark study, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust (with a foreword by Elie Wiesel); Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski; Francois Truffaut, a study of the French director’s work; Philip Kaufman, and Intimations: The Cinema of Wojciech Has. Her latest book is Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes, currently in its fourth printing.

Libby Lenkinski

Libby Lenkinski 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. Libby also leads NIF’s work in arts and culture – working with cultural productions to impact the narrative and attitudes in and about the region. Prior to joining NIF, Libby lived and worked in the Israeli non-profit field for almost a decade. There she worked as Director of International Relations at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and as a strategy consultant for human rights organizations like Yesh Din and Physicians for Human Rights, for documentary films including Budrus and The Law in These Parts, new media initiatives like +972 Magazine, and for progressive campaigns. She is a founding member of Zazim-Community Action and The Whistle.  Libby is based in Brooklyn and travels to Israel-Palestine frequently.

Ruth Lewin-Chen

Ruth Lewin-Chen is the Director of the Shared Cities initiative at The Abraham Initiatives. In her work, Lewin-Chen heads up efforts towards policy regularization of equality and integration between Jewish and Arab citizens living in mixed cities and regions, via cooperation with government ministries, in the parliamentary arena, as well as with professionals and elected officials in the mixed jurisdictions. Before her work at The Abraham Initiatives, Lewin-Chen worked as a dialogue facilitator for Jewish and Arab youth in different frameworks, and as the director of the “City Without Violence” program, and as a consultant for the advancement of the status of women and gender equality in the Mevasseret Zion Local Council, where she lives with her family. Ruth holds an MA in organizational sociology from The Hebrew University.

Moran Maimoni

Moran Maimoni is The Abraham Initiatives’ Director of Public Affairs. Moran was born in Jerusalem and currently lives in Tel Aviv. Before she worked at The Abraham Initiatives, Moran was a parliamentary advisor for senior members of Knesset, and was also a political and feminist activist. In her role at The Abraham Initiatives, Moran works with elected officials in the Knesset in order to promote shared living and equality for Arab citizens. Moran holds a MA in Sociology and Communication from the Hebrew University.

Karnit Mandel

Karnit Mandel is an Israeli director and visual researcher specializing in historical footage. Born in Jaffa, 1977, she graduated summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University’s film department and has worked as a picture researcher and consultant for celebrated Israeli documentaries. For her film Burning the Leaven, she was nominated as best debut film director at the Israeli Documentary Awards.

Andrea Meislin

Following an associate position with the Photography Curator at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2000 to 2002), Andrea Meislin returned to NYC and opened her eponymous gallery with a focus on presenting the work of leading Israeli artists.  Most were exhibiting in New York for the first time, and many to serious and critical acclaim.  One photographer, Barry Frydlender, was the first Israeli artist to have a solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art (2007).  The gallery, which operated from 2004 to 2016 in Chelsea, also presented documentary and historical photographic exhibitions about or from Israel.  Since 2016, Meislin Projects has worked closely with artists to develop, produce, and realize ambitious projects – many of which culminate in private and public commissions, institutional exhibitions worldwide, and comprehensive publications.

Yael Melamede

Yael Melamede is the co-founder of SALTY Features – an independent production company based in New York City whose goal is to create media that is thought-provoking, vital, and enhances the world. Melamede’s documentary credits include Pay or Die (in Post Production), 1341 Frames of Love and War (2022), the Jigsaw Productions/Amblin Entertainment six-part series Why We Hate (2019), Straight/Curve (2017), When I Walk (News & Documentary Emmy Award Winner, 2015), (Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies (2015), Desert Runners (2015), Inocente (Academy Award Winner, Best Doc Short, 2013), and My Architect (Academy Award Nominee, 2004). Yael was an architect before becoming a filmmaker and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Matt Nosanchuk

Matt Nosanchuk is President of the New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA), which focuses on organizing amplifying the voices of the pluralistic and diverse Jewish community in New York City and State, whose Jewish values shape their commitment to furthering social justice, supporting a Jewish and democratic Israel, and combating antisemitism wherever it arises. Before co-founding NYJA, Matt served in senior roles in the Obama Administration, where he worked to further key domestic and international priorities at the White House, as President Obama’s liaison to the American Jewish community, on the National Security Council, and in the Office of Public Engagement. He also served in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, where he led work to advance LGBTQ equality, and at the Departments of State and Homeland Security. During the 2020 campaign cycle, he served as Senior Advisor for Jewish Outreach and LGBTQ+ Engagement at the Democratic National Committee, working closely with the Biden-Harris campaign. Earlier in his career, Matt practiced law in the private and non-profit sectors, was a Skadden Fellow at the ACLU, and worked in both houses of Congress. For his work on LGBTQ issues, Matt received the American Bar Association’s inaugural Stonewall Award and the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award. He received his A.B. with Honors and Distinction from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he was Senior Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review and a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Yair Qedar

Yair Qedar is a filmmaker and a lgtbq-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 17th century to recent days. 16 feature-length documentary films have been made in the project so far, premiering in film festivals, airing on Israeli TV, and screened in hundreds of cinemas around the world. In 2015-2017, he co-directed and produced, with the actor Ilan Peled, the documentary mini series Vanished, about the disappearance of women artists in Israeli culture. The film Lilyanin won first prize in the Haifa film festival in 2016. Qedar is also the initiator of various media projects in Israel, in the fields of the LGBT community such as the first LGBT newspaper Hazman HaVarod.

Orit Ofir Ronell

Orit Ofir Ronell believes in the power that film can have on public discourse in the hope that it will cause some change in Israeli policy. In 2018, Ronell directed Seret Burekas, a 74-minute documentary featured in DocAviv, and Orphans in 2014. 

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.

Alon Schwarz

Alon Schwarz is the director of Tantura, which opened the 2022 Sundance World competition and won prizes at DocAviv and DocEdge Film festivals, among others. In 2017, he directed and produced the feature documentary Aida’s Secrets, which premiered at Hot Docs, won the Audience Award at Tel Aviv’s Docaviv Festival, and was theatrically distributed in the United States and Israel. Prior to his filmmaking career, Alon held management positions in the software and technology sector after being a serial entrepreneur for 17 years. 

Noam Sheizaf

Noam Sheizaf is a documentary filmmaker and scriptwriter. Noam was the director of Meshulam, head of research and content for Dror Moreh’s The Corridors of Power, The Human Factor; and scriptwriter for Lieberman (Dir. Nurit Keidar). Noam was an editor and writer for Israeli daily papers, and the founder of the online magazine “+972”.

Udi Urman

Udi Urman is the Director of the Lambert Center for Arts and Ideas and The Sonabend Center for Israel at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. Previously, Urman served as the Executive Director of Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Prior to his work with Bezalel, Udi was the Director of Cultural Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New England and in New York. Udi has extensive experience in the arts and cultural sphere, has taught at Brandeis University and is the founder of NY Public Art, a platform for tours and public art projects in New York.