Visiting Filmmakers & Guest Speakers

Stay tuned…more guests to be announced

Ron Blau
May 8 Life is All There Is (screening with The Levys of Monticello)
Ron Blau is a Boston area Award-winning writer, producer and independent filmmaker. His films on a wide range of subjects have appeared on both commercial and public television, including on Discovery, TLC, The History Channel, A&E, Discovery Health, National Geographic Channel, and PBS. His 1981 film Our Time in the Garden (distributed by NCJF), which premiered at the Berlinale, has recently been digitally restored. Life Is All There Is is his most recent film.  

Sara Chase
May 23 Pocketful of Miracles
Sara Chase is an NYC based actor most known for her role as Molewoman Cyndee on five seasons of Tina Fey’s hit Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She has also appeared on Broadway, The Office, and in The Simpsons.

Thomas Doherty
May 8 Open Secret
May 10 Hollywood & WWII
Thomas Doherty, professor of American studies at Brandeis University since 1990, is a cultural historian with a special interest in Hollywood cinema who has also taught and lectured overseas as a Fulbright scholar. In 2005, he received recognition as an Academy Film Scholar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Doherty is the author of a bookshelf of outstanding books, including Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s; Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture and World War II; Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism and American Culture; Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration, and Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939; Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC & the Birth of the Blacklist. His most recent book is Little Lindy is Kidnapped: How the Media Covered the Crime of the Century.
Read more about Thomas Doherty.

Lilka Elbaum
May 7 March ’68

Born in Lodz, Lilka (Rozenbaum) Elbaum graduated from the Jewish Peretz School. In 1968, she, together with thousands of Polish Jews, was forced to leave Poland and settled in Canada. She now lives in the United States. The daughter of Holocaust survivors Maria Koper and Benjamin Rozenbaum, for many years, she has researched the history of Polish Jewry, focusing on the Holocaust. Through her work and out of sentiment for the city and country where she was born, she maintains close ties to Poland. Ms. Elbaum is the co-writer and protagonist of the recent documentary Still Life in Lodz, which was produced under The National Center for Jewish Film’s aegis. 

Aviva Kempner
May 23 Pocketful of Miracles
Aviva Kempner is the director of Pocketful of Miracles. Award-winning filmmaker Aviva Kempner has been making independent films since 1979.  Her family history inspired her to produce her first documentary, Partisans of Vilna (1986), one of the first films to explore Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Kempner is the writer-director-producer of the documentaries The Life and Times of Hank GreenbergYoo-Hoo, Mrs. GoldbergRosenwald, The Spy Behind Home Plate, and Imagining the Indian. She writes regularly for The Wrap and has written pieces for The Boston Globe, Moment, The Forward, The Washington Post, and Washington Jewish Week. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the DC Mayor’s Art Award, WIFV Women of Vision Award, and a Media Arts Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. She is the co-founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival in Washington, DC, where she resides. In addition to making films, Kempner is an activist for DC voting rights and continues to lecture about cinema and write film criticism. Read more about Aviva Kempner.

Jonathan Kempner
May 23 Pocketful of Miracles
Jonathan Kempner is brother to Aviva Kempner and a film participant in A Pocketful of Miracles. Mr. Kempner is currently Counselor to the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and was a 2019 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow. He is President Emeritus of TIGER 21, and served as President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, President of the National Multi Housing Council, Vice President and General Counsel of Oxford Development Corporation, Assistant Director and General Counsel of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, and held positions at the Charles E. Smith Companies, the Law Firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman; the US Department of the Treasury Office of Capital Markets, and served as a Law Clerk to Federal Judge David W. Williams.

Karin Oehlenschlaeger
May 21 Schächten A Retribution
Karin Oehlenschläger is a cultural program curator at the Goethe-Institut Boston and has been curating the German Film Series at the Coolidge for twelve years. She’s been with the Goethe-Institut since 2005 and is responsible for film, literature and political programs. She holds an MA in German Literature and Communications from Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz.

Steven Pressman
May 8 The Levys of Monticello
Steven Pressman was born and raised in Los Angeles and received an undergraduate degree in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. He worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist for many years, as a reporter and editor at a variety of publications in Los Angeles, Washington DC and San Francisco. Steve directed and produced the Emmy nominated documentary 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, which premiered on HBO in 2013 and wrote a companion book published by HarperCollins in 2014. His next film, Holy Silence, premiered on PBS in 2020. The Levys of Monticello is currently screening at festivals. All three of Pressman’s acclaimed films were produced under the aegis of The National Center for Jewish Film.

Shulamit Reinharz
May 14 Where Life Begins
Shulamit Reinharz is the Jacob Potofsky Professor Emerita of Sociology at Brandeis University, and the author, co-author or editor of 14 books, including The J Girls’ Guide; Feminist Methods in Social Research; Today I am a Woman; American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise; One Hundred Years of Kibbutz Life; Observing the Observer; and a book in Hebrew about Manya Wilbushevitz Shohat. For 10 years, she directed the Women’s Studies Program at Brandeis, where she created a graduate degree program including a Joint M.A. in Jewish Women’s Studies. In 1997, she founded the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute whose purpose is to develop new ways of thinking about Jews and Gender internationally. As part of that experience, she founded the English-language academic journal, Nashim, in partnership with the Schechter Seminary in Jerusalem. In 2001, she created the Women’s Studies Research Center, which includes the Kniznick Gallery for feminist art and the Holocaust Reearch Study Group. In 2017, Shulamit Reinharz retired from Brandeis University Her newest book, Hiding in Holland: 1942-45, is due in 2024.

Lisa Rivo
May 7 The Light Ahead
Lisa Rivo is Co-Director of The National Center for Jewish Film. Founded in 1976, NCJF owns one of the world’s largest archives of Jewish-content films. The Center, which rescues, restores and makes available rare archival films, also distributes the work of contemporary filmmakers and has a dozen new films being produced under its aegis. She oversees the Center’s programmatic, distribution, curatorial and exhibition activities. Lisa has co-directed and co-curated 16 Boston-area film festivals and has curated other series worldwide. Ms. Rivo consults regularly with filmmakers, scholars, and curators, and has sat on numerous film festival juries. She has a degree in Art History from Vassar College and focused on American visual culture and film at Emory University’s Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts PhD program. Lisa worked in the film program of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and as Director of Public Information at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Prior to joining NCJF in 2006, she was a Research Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Associate Director & Senior Writer of the African American National Biography, an encyclopedia edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Sharon Pucker Rivo
May 7 The Light Ahead
Sharon Pucker Rivo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The National Center for Jewish Film, has been a leading force in the field of Jewish film and culture for more than four decades through her work as a curator, programmer, archivist, film distributor, film and television producer, and academic. In the mid-1970s she and co-founder Miriam Krant rescued a languishing collection of Yiddish-language feature films. Today, NCJF is the largest archive of Jewish film outside of Israel, and a major distributor of restored classic and new independent Jewish-content films. Ms. Rivo was an early advocate for the inclusion of film in the study of history and culture and for the historically accurate use of visual materials. She has worked with hundreds of filmmakers around the world as a consultant and has appeared as an expert in many documentaries and television programs. She has curated film programs for venues from Boston to Beijing, including co-curating the first ever retrospective of Yiddish cinema, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ms. Rivo has been a member of Brandeis University faculty for more than twenty-five years and she lectures widely on the history of Jews in cinema, a field she helped pioneer. Internationally recognized as an authority on Jewish and Yiddish film, film archiving and restoration, and Jewish programming and distribution, she lectures and has served on numerous international film festival juries.

Jonathan Sarna
May 8 The Levys of Monticello
Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. Widely recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, he was Chief Historian at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and of the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community. Professor Sarna is the author or editor of more than 30 books and 100 scholarly articles on various aspects of American Jewish life. His award-winning book American Judaism: A History was published in a second edition, and his most recent books are Coming to Terms with America, Lincoln and the Jews: A History, and When General Grant Expelled the Jews. He is featured in many films, including The Levys and Monticello.

Sabine von Mering
May 23 A Pocketful of Miracles
Sabine von Mering is Professor of German and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, affiliated faculty with the Environmental Studies Program. She is the Director of the Center for German and European Studies (CGES) at Brandeis University where she regularly hosts Jewish-German Dialogue events. Her co-edited volumes include Russian-Jewish Emigration after the Cold War: Perspectives from Germany, Israel, Canada, and the United States (2006), Right-Wing Radicalism Today: Perspectives from Europe and the US (2013), and Antisemitism on Social Media (2022). Read more about Sabine von Mering.