20th Annual Rutgers Film Festival


marc aronsonMarc Aronson
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles - November 7

Marc Aronson is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Library and Information Science Department of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers. For more than thirty years, he has worked in the field of literature for younger readers as an author, editor, publisher, and critic. He is the only person to have won the American Library Association's prizes for excellence in youth nonfiction as both an author and as an editor. At Rutgers, Aronson trains future librarians to work with children and teenagers, and he also works with librarians, teachers, and administrators as an educational consultant.

Aronson’s father, Tony Award-winning set designer Boris Aronson, assisted by his mother, Lisa Jalowetz, created the iconic imagery for the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof that has transfixed audiences across the globe for the last half-century. They also designed sets for the Tony Award-winning shows Cabaret, Company, Zorba, and Pacific Overtures.


Deborah DworkDebórah Dwork
Those Who Remained - November 7

Internationally renowned scholar Debórah Dwork will serve as the Bildner Visiting Scholar for the Fall semester 2019. Founding director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Inaugural Rose Professor of Holocaust History at Clark University, Dwork conducted pathbreaking work in her early recordings of Holocaust survivors, weaving their narratives into the history she writes. Among her award-winning books, Children With A Star introduced a child-centered approach to historical investigation; Flight from the Reich opened the geographic view of the Holocaust and integrated the refugee experience into its history; and Auschwitz drew the critically important connection between industrial killing and a society that believed it was involved in constructive activity. Dwork is a leading authority on university education in the field of Holocaust studies and is a member of the American delegation to the 33-state International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. In 2017-18, she served as the Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. At Rutgers, Dwork will teach a mini-course for teachers in the fall called “Refugees during the Nazi Era” and participate in Bildner Center programs.


David J Fishelson HeadshotDavid J. Fishelson
Golda's Balcony, The Film 2019 - November 13

David J. Fishelson is an American producer, playwright, and director for film, theatre, television and radio, based in Manhattan since 1982. He is best known for being the founder/producer of Manhattan Ensemble Theatre, an award-winning Off-Broadway theatre company located in SoHo, New York City. As a filmmaker, his work has been broadcast on PBS, exhibited theatrically, and selected for 42 international film festivals (winning at 7). As a theatre producer and playwright (both on Broadway and off), his work has garnered 31 nominations (winning 11) from the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer

Critics Circle, Obie, Drama League, Lortel, Blackburn Prize and Touring Broadway awards organizations, while landing on Time Out NY's year-end "Best in Theatre" list on 4 different occasions.


Samuel G FreedmanSamuel G. Freedman
City of Joel - November 10

Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A former columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, he is the author of eight acclaimed books, and is currently at work on his ninth, which will be about Hubert Humphrey, Civil Rights, and the 1948 Democratic convention. He was named the nation's outstanding journalism educator in 1997 by the Society of Professional Journalists, and in 2012, he received Columbia University’s coveted Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Small Victories was a finalist for the 1990 National Book Award and The Inheritance was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize. Upon This Rock won the 1993 Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. Four of Freedman’s books have been listed among The New York Times’ Notable Books of the Year. Jew vs. Jew won the National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2001 and made the Publishers Weekly Religion Best-Sellers list. As a result of the book, Freedman was named one of the “Forward Fifty” most important American Jews in the year 2000 by the weekly Jewish newspaper The Forward.


Aviva Kempner HeadshotAviva Kempner
The Spy Behind Home Plate - November 10 and 11

A child of Holocaust survivor and a US Army officer, Aviva Kempner was born in Berlin, Germany after World War II. Her family history inspired her to write, direct and produce films about under-known Jewish heroes. She won a Peabody award for her film The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg in 2000, and has since released multiple feature films. Kempner is the founder and executive director of The Ciesla Foundation, a non-profit organization that produces documentaries to investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history. She regularly writes a column for THEWRAP and has written film criticism and articles for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and Washington Jewish Week. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Kempner is the 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 founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival in Washington, DC, where she resides.

Other films we have shown: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000), Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009), and Rosenwald (2015)


Dan KleinmanDan Kleinman
Tel Aviv on Fire - November 13

As a screenwriter, Dan Kleinman’s credits include the original screenplays Rage (Warner Brothers, 1972) and Welcome to Oblivion (Concorde Films, 1990). Dan was a member of the full-time screenwriting faculty at Columbia University for twenty years (1996-2016). During that time, he served as chair of Film for five years and acting dean of the School of the Arts for three years. Prior to coming to Columbia, he taught for twenty years at NYU. He also taught the first filmmaking course ever offered at Princeton University. He was a mentor at the Sundance screenwriting lab in Utah and at screenwriting labs in Belgium and Uganda. Tel Aviv on Fire (written with Sameh Zoabi '05) is his most recent project. The film had its world premiere at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Interfilm Award and Best Actor. Since its premiere, the film has garnered a multitude of awards for Best film and Best screenplay at festivals around the world.


Elise Otzenberger headshotElise Otzenberger
My Polish Honeymoon - November 14

Elise Otzenberger lives in Paris, France. She started her career acting in Classical Theatre, then starred in her first film MEILLEUR ESPOIR FÉMININ (Most Promising Young Actress) by Gerard Jugnot in 2000. Since then, Elise has been alternating between classical plays and more modern comedies for the stage. She has been balancing these projects with her pursuits in film and television as an actress, and more recently, as a screenwriter. In 2006, she wrote and directed her first one woman show My Hollywood... Dear Mr. Spielberg about a child living with ET. My Polish Honeymoon is her film directorial debut. My Polish Honeymoon is her debut feature film and is based partly on her own experiences.


Michal RaucherMichal Raucher
The Other Story - November 7

Michal Raucher is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Her research lies at the intersection of Israel studies, the anthropology of women in Judaism, and reproductive ethics. Michal’s first book, about Israeli ultra-Orthodox women’s reproductive ethics, will be published by Indiana University Press in 2020. Michal is currently conducting ethnographic research on the ordination of women in Orthodox Judaism in Israel and America. This semester she is teaching the course “Arab-Israeli Conflict”.


Gary Rendsburg headshotGary Rendsburg
From Cairo to the Cloud: THe World of the Cairo Geniza - November 10

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology. His secondary interests include post-biblical Judaism, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages – and thus he serves as our own local Cairo Geniza specialist. Prof. Rendsburg is the author of seven books and about 180 articles. His most recent book is How the Bible Is Written.


JorgeSchementJorge Reina Schement
Leona - November 17

Jorge Reina Schement is Distinguished Professor in the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) and of Latino Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He recently served as Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion for Rutgers-New Brunswick and for Rutgers Biological and Health Sciences. Previously he was Dean of SC&I, and chaired the Executive Planning Committee for Rutgers’ 250th Anniversary Commemoration.

A Latino from South Texas, his research focuses on the social and policy implications of the production and consumption of information, especially as they relate to ethnic minorities. He is a descendant from the families of Conversos who immigrated from Spain to found Monterrey, Mexico.


H Alan Scott headshotH. Alan Scott
Latter Day Jew - November 13 and 14

H. Alan Scott is a writer/comedian based in Los Angeles. He has appeared on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Ellen, CNN, Fusion and MTV. He has written for TV Land, VICE, Fusion, OUT Magazine, Newsweek and Nerdist. As a podcaster, he co-hosts Out on the Lanai: A Golden Girls Podcast and You’re Making It Worse on Dan Harmon’s Starburns Industries network. Oprah said his name, and he survived cancer (in that order).


Sally Shatzkes headshotSally Shatzkes
Witness Theater: The Film - November 14 (School Film Screening)

Sally Shatzkes is a Registered Drama Therapist and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. She piloted the first “Witness Theater” program with Holocaust survivors and teenagers in New York in 2012. Today, she is the lead Drama Therapist for the program, and trains facilitators for “Witness Theater” in other locations.

She has over a decade of work in the drama therapy field, innovating creative arts based programs at the Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn. She also spearheads creative approaches in Jewish education at other institutions. Sally is a noted lecturer and educator whose work has been featured in the The Wall Street Journal, The Daily News, The Jewish Week and The Forward.


James Snyder headshotJames. S Snyder
The Museum - November 17

James S. Snyder, Director Emeritus of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, served as the Museum’s Anne and Jerome Fisher Director from 1997 through 2016 and then as International President for an additional two-year term through 2018.

As of July 1, 2019, Snyder has become Executive Chairman of The Jerusalem Foundation, Inc. In this newly created position, Snyder works closely with the Foundation’s international leadership to champion the vision of founder Teddy Kollek, who served as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 to 1993, to formalize and promote the city’s role as an urban model for cross-cultural coexistence – across the economic, social, and cultural spectrum and for the mixed community of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who live and work there. Prior to his appointment at the Israel Museum, Snyder held a number of positions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, culminating as Deputy Director from 1986 to 1996.

In recognition of his leadership in the arts, Snyder has been awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) by the Republic of Italy and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) of the French Republic. In 2011, he was awarded the Jerusalem Foundation’s Teddy Kollek Award for Significant Contribution to Jerusalem, and, in 2012, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat conferred on him the title of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem.


Jessica SteinbergJessica Steinberg
The Unorthodox - November 3 and 5

Jessica Steinberg is the culture editor for The Times of Israel, covering arts, music, travel, food, films and TV for the growing news site. A former New Yorker, she has been living in Israel for the last 24 years, writing for a wide variety of publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Dow Jones News, and many others, reporting about Israeli business and economy, architecture, fashion and entrepreneurship. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and twin 11-year-old sons.

Jessica has interviewed the director of The Unorthodox,Eliran Malka, a number of times and has the inside scoop on the inspiration behind the film as well as the popular Israeli TV series Shababnikim about a group of “cool” yeshiva bochers, which Malka wrote and directed.


Barnabas Toth HeadshotBarnabás Tóth
Those Who Remained - November 13

Barnabás Tóth joins us from Budapest. His short film My Guide (2013) received more than 1.5 million views on Vimeo within a week of its publication, reaching a worldwide audience. His latest short film called Chuchotage (2018) was shortlisted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an Oscar in 2019. Those Who Remained is his second feature. Earlier this year, the film was chosen to premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and has since been named Hungary’s official entry for Best International Feature in the 2020 Academy Awards.