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Filmmaker Q&A's

Boaz Armoni


Boaz Armoni lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. Boaz has worked in the Israeli film and television industry for over ten years, directing dozens of commercials, clips, and short films. He graduated with honors from the Midrash School of Art at Beit Berl College. His 2008 short film Desert Trains screened at dozens of festivals around the world and won several international awards. In 2015, he directed his first feature film Freak Out, a horror comedy which was screened in dozens of festivals around the world and sold for distribution in over thirty countries and five continents. In 2018, he was selected for the European Genre Forum with his feature-length script Fingernail. His second feature is The Electrifiers, which was a box office success in Israel. Watch Boaz's Q&A following his film, The Electrifiers.

Barry Avrich


Veteran producer and director Barry Avrich is the creative force behind Melbar Entertainment Group, one of the largest producers of non-scripted content in North America. Barry has produced and directed over 60 documentaries, including the internationally acclaimed Made You Look, The Last Mogul, Prosecuting Evil, David Foster: Off The Record, and has produced over 21 award-winning stage-to-screen adaptations of Broadway and Shakespeare. One of Melbar's most recently produced documentaries, Made You Look, premiered on Netflix in 2021. He is currently in production on the films Capturing Mr. Rosenberg, Born Hungry and Oscar Peterson: Black and WhiteWatch Barry's Q&A following his film, Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me.

Judi Beecher


Judi Beecher, a native New Yorker, is a multi-award winning international actor, singer-songwriter, and filmmaker. She is known for her roles in Taken 3Family is Family, and La GarconneMost recently Judy stars in Tango Shalom and is directing a documentary, My Name Is Ronya, a biographical documentary focused on tolerance. Judi is a humanitarian and activist who hopes to use media as a catalyst for positive social change. Watch Judy's Q&A following her film, Tango Shalom.

Keren Ben-Horin


Keren Ben-Horin is a fashion historian, curator, and author. She is endlessly inspired by fashion’s ability to empower, define, and transform the self. Keren is the co-creator of the documentary Mrs. G., adapted in part from her MA thesis. She has curated several fashion exhibitions and co-authored the fashion history survey She’s Got Legs: A History of Hemlines and Fashion (Schiffer, 2014). Keren is currently enrolled in the PhD program in History at New York University where she uses the lens of fashion and the body to examine the lived experiences of ordinary people in American cities. Watch Keren's Q&A following her film, Mrs. G.

Nir Bergman


Nir Bergman was born in Haifa, Israel in 1969. He graduated with honors from the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem in June 1998. His debut film, Broken Wings, was released in 2002, won several international awards, and was distributed by Sony Classics in the US. Since then, Bergman has written and directed several award winning feature films as well as successful TV series, including In Treatment, which was later adapted by HBO. Currently, Bergman is a leading Israeli film and TV writer–director, as well as a prominent film teacher at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. Watch Nir's Q&A following his film, Here We Are.

Gabe Bologna


Before Gabe Bologna’s career as a writer and director, he was an accomplished actor for fifteen years, working with such film directors as Francis Ford Coppola and Mark Rydel after being 'discovered' while attending NYU. Gabe is known for Tango Shalom (2021), Love is All There Is (1996), and Captain EO (1986). He is currently developing a food show with Ross Babbit, who founded Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, and TV personality Jack Maxwell. Watch Gabe's Q&A following his film, Tango Shalom.

Nancy Buirski


A Crime On The Bayou is the third chapter in director Nancy Buirski’s documentary trilogy, following HBO's The Loving Story (2011) and Starz' The Rape of Recy Taylor (Starz, 2017), that addresses the roots of racism and the brave voices who fought against it. Her Emmy and Peabody Award-winning films premiered at Cannes, Venice, and the New York Film Festival. Watch Nancy's Q&A following her film, A Crime on the Bayou. 

Isaac Cherem


Isaac was born in 1992 in Mexico City and graduated from The Los Angeles Film School in 2011. He started working as a production assistant on film sets at the age of fifteen and in 2015 he founded Fosforescente, a production company focused solely on Mexican cinema. In 2021, he premiered Leona nationwide in the USA. Watch Isaac's Q&A following his film, Leona.

Eytan Fox


Eytan Fox was born in New York and grew up in Israel. Sublet is his fourth film that has played the Tribeca Film Festival. Yossi & Jagger, a groundbreaking love story about male Israeli soldiers, won the Best Actor Award in 2003. Its 2012 sequel, Yossi, opened the competition. The Bubble was shown at TFF in 2007. His 2004 movie, Walk on Water, about a Mossad agent tracking the grandson of a Nazi, opened the Panorama at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004, was nominated for a César Award and was named one of the top foreign films of 2005 by the National Board of Review, USA. His 2013 film, Cupcakes, was a musical comedy about friends entering an international song contest. His films have won 28 international awards altogether. Watch Eytan's Q&A following his film, Sublet.

Jonathon Gruber


Jonathan Gruber has been directing, writing, and producing award-winning documentary films for more than 20 years. With his company, Black Eye Productions, he has helped celebrate long-overlooked individuals, inform generations, build brands, facilitate social movements, and, of course, entertain. His documentaries include Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos, Follow Me, Life Is a Banquet, Jewish Soldiers in Blue & Gray, STU, and Pola’s March. He was also the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of the MSNBC series, The Story of Cool. Jonathan specializes in building trust with his interview subjects, gently taking them on a storytelling journey and ultimately creating an environment that allows for honesty and vulnerability. Jonathan views all projects as stories worth remembering. Watch Jonathan's Q&A following his film, Upheaval.

Claudio Laniado

Producer / Actor

Claudio Laniado is a multi-awarded actor, screenwriter, producer of Tango Shalom. As an actor, one of his latest film roles was as Dr. Pearlman in Mudbound, which was a 2017 Official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, NY Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival 2017, and others, was released on Netflix, and earned 4 Oscar nominations. He also has a recurring role on Preacher. Watch Claudio's Q&A following his film, Tango Shalom.

Jos Laniado

Actor / Screenwriter / Producer

Jos Laniado is an Obie-awarded, multi-lingual actor, screenwriter, and one of the producers of Tango Shalom. Living in countries such as Egypt, Argentina, France, Italy and Brazil has allowed him to learn the 6 languages he currently speaks along with the plethora of cultures that have shaped his persona. He is also known for Blue Bloods (2010), Jessica Jones (2015), Milcho Manchevski’s Bikini Moon (2017). Watch Jos's Q&A following his film, Tango Shalom.

Talya Lavie


Director and screenwriter Talya Lavie won the Israeli Academy Awards for writing and directing Zero Motivation, an Israeli blockbuster which received multiple international awards including Best Film at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Nora Ephron Prize; the film broke the two decades-long Israeli box-office record, won six Israeli Academy Awards, was awarded Best Film by the Israeli Film Critics Association, and was selected as one of the three Best Israeli Films of All Time by the most widely read newspaper in Israel. Her short film Sliding Flora screened at New York City’s MoMA, Paris's Louvre, and in over 40 film festivals worldwide. Her short film The Substitute received several international awards, notably the Audience Award at the Berlinale. Honeymood is her second feature film. Watch Talya's Q&A following her film, Honeymood.

Mor Loushy


Mor Loushy is an award winning Israeli director and member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her debut film, Israel Ltd (2009), world premiered at IDFA and was broadcast worldwide. Censored Voices (2015) premiered at Sundance Film Festival and screened at Berlinale, BFI – London & IDFA, and was theatrically released worldwide. It won the Israeli Oscar & Best Film at the Israeli Documentary Awards. The Oslo Diaries (2018) premiered at Sundance and Hotdocs, was sold for U.S distribution to HBO, and was released worldwide. The film was also nominated for an Emmy in 2019. Kings of Capitol Hill (2020) premiered at Hotdocs and won the Best Research Award at Docaviv Film Festival. Watch Mor's Q&A following her film, Kings of Capitol Hill.

Mauro Mancini


Award-winning director and screenwriter Mauro Mancini began his career in 2005 with the short film Our Secret. Over the years he has shot commercials, music videos, documentaries, and short movies. His first feature film, Thou Shalt Not Hate, was presented in the Film Critic’s Week competition at 77th Venice International Film Festival. He was recently nominated for Best Debut Director at 66th David di Donatello Awards. Watch Mauro's Q&A following his film, Thou Shalt Not Hate.


Zach Banner

Zach Banner is a USC All-American and current Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle. He is passionate about social justice, embracing his role as athlete activist, standing with his Black community in working for legislative changes, police reform and more, as well as standing in solidarity with the Jewish community and taking a stand against anti-Semitism. He is also the President and founder of the B3 Foundation, a nonprofit committed to supporting students in underserved communities. Zach will participate on the Shared Legacies panel on Monday, April 26, at 7pm. 

Dr. Lauren Bairnsfather

Dr. Lauren Apter Bairnsfather is the Director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. While writing her senior honors thesis at the University of Texas, she became acquainted with two Sephardic Holocaust survivors. Inspired by these women, she took an internship in the Photo Archives of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and quickly became full-time staff. She earned an MA at the University of Chicago and a PhD at the University of Texas. In July 2015, Lauren returned home to Southwestern PA to become head of the Holocaust Center. She is an Adjunct Professor of History at Chatham University and has been invited to lecture at Baylor University, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of South Carolina. Lauren will moderate the pre-recorded panel discussion available for viewing with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Dawn Brubaker

Dawn is the owner of DAYbreaking IDEAS, a consulting company that develops and implements professional training on diversity and inclusion, intercultural communication, and creating trauma-informed environments. Dawn has 12 years of experience in implementing programs for refugee employment, service coordination, family financial planning, and relationship education. Dawn received her master's in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and her doctorate in social work from St. Thomas University. Her dissertation is titled: Strengths-Based Theory: Direct Practice with immigrants and Forced Migrant Populations. Dawn will participate in the pre-recorded panel discussion available for viewing with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Rosamaria Cristello

Rosamaria Cristello is the Founder and Executive Director of the Latino Community Center (LCC) in Pittsburgh. Rosamaria was named one of Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40 in 2016 and was the first recipient of the Barbara McNeese Spirit of Athena Award which provides free tuition to the CMU Women’s Leadership and Negotiation Academy. Originally from Guatemala, Rosamaria grew up in Arlington, Virginia as an undocumented child. She became the first from her family to attend college. Rosamaria will participate in the pre-recorded panel discussion available for viewing with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Andrea Mendez-Peraza

Andrea Mendez-Peraza moved to the USA in 2016 from El Salvador. She is one of the first students the Latino Community Center (LCC) helped get into college. In 2018 she began volunteering with the LCC, helping other students like herself fill out the FAFSA and learn about higher education opportunities.  In 2019 she was the recipient of the Strong Women Strong Girls Award. In 2020 she transferred to Point Park to complete her degree in International Business. Andrea will participate in the pre-recorded panel discussion available for viewing with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Dr. Shari Rogers

Dr. Shari Rogers is a clinical therapist and social activist whose work encompasses movie production, writing, educational programing, curriculum development and public speaking. She is the Co-Executive Producer of Eli Inspiring Future Generations, a PBS documentary examining the impact of Holocaust survivor Eliezer Ayalon, a Yad Vashem tour guide from Israel, and his inspiration to make positive change in the world. Shari is the president and founder of Spill The Honey, a Michigan-based nonprofit organization committed to advancing cultural tolerance, drawing attention to contemporary injustices, and encouraging young people to become compassionate, global citizens. Rogers also serves as a trustee of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP). Shari directed Shared Legacies and will participate on the panel on Monday, April 26, at 7pm.

Rabbi David Saperstein

For 40 years, Rabbi Saperstein directed the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, representing the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry, to the U.S. Congress and Administration and currently serves as its Director Emeritus. During the second term of the Obama administration, Rabbi Saperstein served as the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, carrying out his responsibilities as the country’s chief diplomat on religious freedom issues. Also an attorney, he taught seminars on Church–State law and on Jewish Law for 35 years at Georgetown University Law Center. In 2019-2020, Rabbi Saperstein served as the President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the international arm of the Reform Jewish Movement. A longtime leader in civil rights coalitions, Rabbi Saperstein served three decades on the national boards of the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Rabbi Saperstein will participate on the Shared Legacies panel on Monday, April 26, at 7pm.

Tim Smith

Tim is the CEO of Center of Life and pastor of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood. He has been working with children and youth for over 25 years. Tim was born and raised in Pittsburgh and educated in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. He went to Westinghouse High School, Triangle Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, the Leadership Training Institute, the American Institute of Banking as well the Reformed Theological Seminary. Tim has dedicated his life to empowering families and youth everywhere. Tim will participate on the Shared Legacies panel on Monday, April 26, at 7pm.

Film Schmooze

Frayda Cohen

Frayda Cohen serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Senior Lecturer, and Undergraduate Advisor for the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a cultural anthropologist whose research interests include: gender, children and adoption, reproduction and population policy, and food studies. She regularly teaches courses on gender and the politics of food and sustainability, tourism, gendered bodies, and popular culture. As both faculty and advisor for the GSWS undergraduate program she sees the important ways in which students build their analytical and writing skills around a study of gender and sexuality in ways that uniquely prepare them for a diverse and complicated world. Frayda will lead the Film Schmooze for Breaking Bread on Sunday, May 2, at 3pm. 

Lina Insana

Lina Insana is an Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Pittsburgh. A native Pittsburgher, she earned her BA and MA from Pitt and holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary Italian cultural production. Her first book, Arduous Tasks: Primo Levi, Translation, and the Transmission of Holocaust Testimony (2009) examined Primo Levi’s testimonial work through the lens of translation, broadly understood as a mediating and interpretive mode that creates spaces of testimonial agency for the survivor-author. She is currently completing a book titled Charting the Island: Sicilian Position and Belonging from Unification to the European Union. Since 2012 she has been the lead organizer of Pittsburgh’s Italian Film Festival USA, a curated festival of contemporary Italian Cinema that takes place every spring on Pitt’s campus. Lina will lead the Film Schmooze for Thou Shalt Not Hate on Sunday, April 25, at 3pm. 

Pernille Røge

Pernille Røge is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in the history of early modern Europe and European expansion. Born in Denmark, she lived in France and England before moving to Pittsburgh in 2012. At Pitt, Pernille enjoys teaching classes in European history, the history of the French Revolution, the European Enlightenment, and Atlantic history. She has written widely on the eighteenth-century French and Danish colonial empires, slavery, and abolition. Alongside her research and teaching, she savors the opportunity to connect with the Danish film and literary scene. Pernille will lead the Film Schmooze for The Good Traitor on Wednesday, April 28, at 7pm.