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Emily Askin

Emily Askin is an actress and improviser. Emily has been performing improv comedy in every basement theater from Pittsburgh to New York since 2003. She regularly appears in The Writer’s Room at Unplanned Comedy Warehouse and CSI: Crime Scene Improv at Arcade Comedy Theater. Occasionally, Emily performs nationally with her all-female improv troupe, BOMBARDO. Emily is a graduate of the Kenyon College Theater Program and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. She discovered her love for entertaining during her formative years while dressing up in her Bubbie’s gowns and dancing to her grandparent’s jazz records.

Emily is the star of Take My Nose…Please!. She will speak on the panel following the screening on April 30th.

Brian Balk

Brian Balk was raised in Latrobe, PA, along with his sister (Ellen) and brother (Harold). His parents (David and Rosalyn) along with his brother all live in Pittsburgh now. Brian was a member of Beth Israel congregation in Latrobe until its closing in 2015. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Ohio University and is employed as a telecommunications consulting engineer. Brian currently lives in Squirrel Hill with his wife (Carol), two daughters (Dalya and Ellie), two dogs, a rabbit and a horse. He still attends services in Greensburg, Congregation Emanuel Israel—the last remaining synagogue in Westmoreland County—each Shabbos, or whenever they can cobble together a minion.

Brian and his family join audiences for a conversation following both screenings of There Are Jews Here.

Natalie Bencivenga

Natalie Bencivenga is the SEEN editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Her weekly Monday column documents Pittsburgh social life in all its diversity. Beyond the galas, the glitterati, and the glamour, it chronicles the way we live today and the people who are engaged in making this community a vibrant place to live. She aims to broaden the reach of SEEN by expanding the kinds of events the Post-Gazette covers. In addition, she co-hosts the Post-Gazette’s weekly lifestyle Web show “Setting the SEEN” and regularly contributes segments to KDKA Radio and KDKA-TV’s morning television program “Pittsburgh Today Live,” as well as penning “Ask Natalie”: The Post-Gazette’s weekly advice column. Her newest project includes a podcast amplifying women’s voices: The BROADcast Podcast.

Natalie will moderate the panel following the screening of Take My Nose…Please!

Vivian Curran

Vivian Curran serves as President of the American Society of Comparative Law (ASCL), the leading organization to promote the comparative study of law. She is a member of the American Law Institute, the International Academy of Comparative Law, and the Société de Législation Comparée. She was decorated in 2007 by the Republic of Austria for her work as the United States appointee to the Austrian General Settlement Fund Committee for Nazi-era property compensation, and in 2013 by the government of France for her services in promotion of the French language and culture in the United States. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh.

Vivian will lead the Film Schmooze discussion following the screening of Past Life.


Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg

Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg is Teaching Professor in the History Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where she specializes in Middle East history. She holds a Ph.D. in modern Middle East history from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1990).  Her primary area of research and publication is the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process. She has published numerous articles and is the author of My Enemy’s Enemy: Lebanon in the early Zionist Imagination, 1900-1948 and, with Neil Caplan, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: Patterns, Problems, Possibilities. An unusual project for which she served as consultant was “PeaceMaker,” a video game simulating Palestinian-Israeli interactions. On-going research projects concern the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the efficacy of simulation and role-playing activities in teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Laurie will lead the Film Schmooze discussion following the screening of AKA Nadia.

Harris Ferris

A former dancer, Ferris’ career began in Buffalo, NY, where he was both principal dancer and executive director of the Empire State Ballet. He went on to become managing director of Princeton American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey and executive director of the Nevada Ballet in Las Vegas. A leader in the dance world, Ferris has served as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Executive Director since 2006. During his tenure, Ferris has worked to strengthen the company and expand its national and international profile. Under Ferris’ leadership, PBT has fortified its financial position and dramatically reduced debt while continuing to grow artistic and educational programming.

Harris will speak on a panel following the screening of Mr. Gaga.

Saar Harari

Saar Harari was born on a farm in Israel to an artistic family and danced until the age of 18, when he joined the Israeli Army. Six years later he returned to dancing and in 1998 created his first work as an independent choreographer for a dance festival at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv. In 2001, Saar established LeeSaar The Company with Lee Sher, relocating to NYC in 2004. The company has been commissioned to create full evening dance programs by theaters and festivals all over North America. The creation process is built, evolves and draws from the Gaga movement language. Saar is the recipient of the Six Point Fellowship in choreography, a Guggenheim Fellowship in choreography, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.

Saar will speak on a panel following the screening of Mr. Gaga.

Liana Maneese

Brazilian born and Pittsburgh raised, Liana Maneese is an award-winning activist, visionary entrepreneur, and catalyst for new and creative ways to engage. She is the founder of The Good Peoples Group, specializing in creative and cultural problem-solving through identity navigation, building and honoring resilience and dynamic team building. Liana also uses art through her platform Adopting Identity, where she is documenting her story of transracial adoption and presenting programming around multiracial relationships. Always pushing her own boundaries of self-discovery, her story motivates and inspires many through speaking and creative projects.

Liana will speak on a panel following the screening of Take My Nose…Please!.

Ferne Pearlstein

Ferne Pearlstein is an award-winning director, cinematographer, and editor whose work has been screened and broadcast around the world. An acclaimed DP, Pearlstein is one of only a handful of female cinematographers featured in Kodak’s long-running “On Film” ad campaign in American Cinematographer. In 2004 she won the Sundance Cinematography Prize for “Imelda” and has shot in places as diverse as Haiti, Uganda, Guyana, and Thai refugee camps, where she snuck her 16mm camera across the Burmese border to film in rebel bases of the Karen Liberation Army. Pearlstein‘s 2003 documentary “Sumo East and West” premiered at the Tribeca, LA, and Melbourne Film Festivals and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens.

Ferne will appear via skype for a conversation following the screening of The Last Laugh.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Cestari/Rockett

Mickey Radman

Mickey Radman was born and raised in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from WVU in 1953. After four years in the US Airforce Office of Special Investigations, he moved to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where he joined Beth Israel Congregation and remained a member until they closed. He now lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Mickey will join the audience for a conversation following the April 26th screening of There Are Jews Here at Seton Hill University.

Christina Salgado

Christina Salgado is the Director of Education and Community Engagement for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Prior to joining PBT, she served as Early Learning Coordinator at New Jersey Community Development Corporation and as a curriculum developer and researcher for Head Start, through Columbia University’s Teachers College. In 2015 she was selected to present her insights on childhood creative movement and motor skill development during the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science annual conference held in Pittsburgh. She holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University in Movement Science and an undergraduate degree in Dance with a minor in Early Childhood Special Education from George Mason University.

Christina will speak on a panel following the screening of Mr. Gaga.

Bryna Siegel Finer

Bryna Siegel Finer is an Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on how women with genetic breast cancer mutations, “previvors,” use writing to call for a more explicitly activist feminist healthcare agenda. She holds a PhD in rhetoric and composition from the University of Rhode Island, a Master’s in English Education from Teachers College Columbia University, an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and a BA in writing and philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. Bryna has an inherited BRCA2 mutation and serves as a co-leader for the Pittsburgh FORCE support group.

Bryna will speak on a panel following the screening of Pink and Blue.

Jamie Stern

Dr. Jamie Stern is a general internal medicine physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a clinical associate professor of medicine. She completed her residency in internal medicine and fellowship in general (academic) internal medicine at Boston Medical Center. She has been practicing in Pittsburgh since 1996. Her interests include Women’s Health, Preventative Medicine and Global Health. She has participated in medical missions in the Ukraine, Haiti and Honduras.

Jamie will speak on a panel following the screening of Pink and Blue.

Gabrielle Zilkha

Gabrielle Zilkha grew up in a family of funny neurotics from Montreal, Canada—something she believes is at the heart of her love of storytelling. She is an award-winning director and producer with experience in scripted, documentary and interactive content. Her work has been screened around the world and reviewed by the CBC, the Globe and MailIndiewire, The Huffington Post, the Canadian Jewish News and After Ellen. Gabrielle also works as Director of Programming for POV 3rd Street, an organization dedicated to helping youth who face barriers to employment break into the media industry.

Gabrielle will join us for a conversation following the April 28th screening of her film, Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana.

Nancy Zionts

Nancy D. Zionts, MBA is the COO/Chief Program Officer for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. She is leading the planning for the region’s transition to Managed Long Term Services and Supports, as well as the Foundation’s Senior Connections Initiative. She is a principal team member on federally funded projects including the RAVEN (Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents). She has been active in the development of many of the Foundation’s initiatives including its Working Hearts, Closure and Caregiver Champions Initiatives, and for publications including Longer Lives Better Health: Helping Seniors Preserve their Physical, Mental and Social Well-being, Moderating the Effects of Aging: A Caregiver’s Manual, and Closure Community Conversations.

Nancy will speak on a panel following the screening of Pink and Blue.