Guest Speakers 2017

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Sanford Ikeda

Interviewed in the film “Citizen Jane: Battle Cry of the City,” Sanford Ikeda is Professor of Economics and Coordinator of the Economics Program at Purchase College of the State University of New York, and a Visiting Scholar and Research Associate at New York University. Dr. Ikeda’s current research focuses on the interconnections among cities, social cooperation, and entrepreneurial development; and he is currently writing a book on the economics and social theory of Jane Jacobs. He is on the Board of Directors of The Economic Freedom Institute, Cosmos + Taxis, and The Center for the Living City. He has lectured globally, and has published in Forbes and National Review Online.  He has contributed entries for The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (on Robert Moses) and for The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (on Jane Jacobs).

Thomas Bena

Director of “One Big Home,” Thomas Bena earned a degree in marketing from UMass Amherst in 1989, but working in the business world wasn’t for him, so after nine short months he grabbed a backpack and a surfboard and headed to Australia to “find himself.” Almost a decade later, he discovered Martha’s Vineyard. In 2001, he founded the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (now in its seventeenth season). His film directing, editing, and producing credits include Casa del Soul, a short surfing film, Jumpstart My Vega, a travelogue/surf film, and Capawock, a short film starring Wampanoag medicine man Luther Madison. One Big Home, which took twelve years to make, is his first feature-length documentary film.

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Aviva Kempner

An award-winning filmmaker, will talk about her film “Rosenwald,” Aviva Kempner has been making independent films since 1979. A child of Holocaust survivor Helen Ciesla and Harold Kempner, a US Army officer, Kempner was born in Berlin, Germany after World War II. Her family history inspired her to produce her first documentary, Partisans of Vilna (1986), focusing on a gripping story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Kempner went on to write, direct and produce more films about under-known Jewish heroes, including Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009) and the Peabody award-winning The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (2000). 

Kempner is currently working on a new documentary on Morris “Moe” Berg, a Jewish baseball player in the Major Leagues from the 1920s through 1939, who also worked for the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), spying in Europe and South America. He played a prominent role in US efforts to undermine the German atomic bomb program during WWII. 

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. In addition to making films, Kempner is an activist for DC voting rights and continues to lecture about cinema and write film criticism.

Simone Eleveld

Director of “Urban Tides,”Simone Eleveld is a filmmaker and journalist based in Amsterdam. Inspired by the hands-on mentality at De Ceuvel she started filming the process. As the piles of footage grew larger, it slowly turned into her documentary debut. The interaction between grassroots movements and authorities continue to fascinate her and the theme regularly pops up in her work – she is currently doing research on grassroots movements throughout Europe.

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Bill Morrison

Bill Morrison returns to Film Days with his film “Dawson City: Frozen Time.” The award-winning filmmaker’s films often combine rare archival material and contemporary music. Morrison is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award, an NEA Creativity Grant, Creative Capital, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His theatrical projection design work has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award. He had a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.  In 2013, Decasia (67 min, 2002), with music by Michael Gordon, became the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. 

Morrison has collaborated with some of the greatest composers of our time. In addition to his collaborations with Gordon and Frisell, he has worked with John Adams, Gavin Bryars, Dave Douglas, Richard Einhorn, Philip Glass, Michael Harrison, Ted Hearne, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, David T. Little, Steve Reich, Aleksandra Vrebalov, and Julia Wolfe, among many others. 

His film “The Great Flood” (2013), which won the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for shitrocial scholarship, was featured at Film Days in 2014.

Carlos Sosa Ortiz is the founder and director of the film production company Viento del Norte Cine. He is the producer of Bosque de Niebla (Mónica Álvarez, 2017). His company has produced such films as: Tijuana. Sonidos del Nortec (Alberto Cortés, 2012), Somos Lengua (Kyzza Terrazas, 2016); and Sopladora de Hojas (Alejandro Iglesias, 2015). Carlos has been Artistic Director at Los Cabos Film Festival, Coordinator of the Guadalajara International Film Festival, and on the jury of such  festivals as In edit Barcelona, Santiago de Chile-Music Documentary Festival, Albacete International Film Festival and DocsDF. He is also the founder and general director of La Casa del Cine MX, one of Mexico City's premier art film cinemas. Currently, he is producing El gran Fellove (Matt Dillon), Lady Death (Analein Cal y Mayor), and Santuario (Joshua Gil).

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Carlos Rossini 

Carlos Rossini is a Producer and Cinematographer of Bosque de Niebla. Rossini is a director, cinematographer and producer working mostly in documentary film for over fifteen years. He is the cinematographer of several documentaries, including Palabras Magicas (2012), winner of Best Cinematography at Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de la Ciudad de Mexico, and director of El Alcalde/The Mayor (2012), winner of Best Documentary at the Baja International Film Festival. In 2004, Rossini and Emiliano Altuna created ambú|audiovisual, a Mexico City-based production company specializing in the development and production of documentary and fiction films. They have produced several award-winning films including The Other side of the Wall (HotDocs, 2017), El Alcalde (TIFF DOCS 2012), Un Mundo Secreto (BERLINALE 2012), and El Ciruelo (2009).

Nathan Pancione

Nathan Pancione (Joan, in Selections from Black Maria Film Festival) loves telling stories. This is his first foray in documentary filmmaking. Previously, he’s worked on experimental films that have screened internationally, including Death in the Three Acts, the Black Maria’s “Best Experimental Film” in 2010. He is a graduate of The University of Hartford. He currently resides in Norwalk, Connecticut with his husband where they enjoy cooking and appreciating nature.  


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Jane Steuerwald

Jane Steuerwald was born in Queens, NY. Since 1980 she has been working with 16mm and Super 8mm film and video as an art medium. She has created installations, documentaries, found footage works, narrative and experimental films, and single edition art books. She studied film, video, and synaesthetic education at Syracuse University and received both a BFA and an MS. She completed an MFA in film at Bard College in 1987.
She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Black Maria Film and Video Festival for many years, where she continues to serve as a pre-screener and guest curator. In 1989 and 2004 she received Artist Fellowships from NJ State Council on the Arts, and has also received grants from the NJ Historical Commission, the Puffin Foundation, Lightworks, Sony/AFI, and NJ City University.  Her film and video has been shown in arts venues and festivals including MoMA and Millennium Film, and she has won numerous awards including from the Black Maria Film and Video Festival, the Asian Cinevision International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film and Video Festival, and the Athens International Film and Video Festival.

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Peter Rutkoff

Professor Peter Rutkoff is a founding member of the Department of American Studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He is the author of Fly Away, and other recent non-fiction works that examine African-American art and culture, as well as two novels, most recently Irish Eyes. He is a regular summer visitor to Cooperstown, which is also the setting of his book of short stories, Cooperstown Chronicles.