Aviva Kempner (Director), a Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker, creates successful and critically acclaimed documentaries about under-known Jewish heroes and social justice. In 2019, she premiered her fifth commercially-released film about Moe Berg , The Spy Behind Home Plate. Her other films include Rosenwald, a documentary about how Chicago businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald partnered with Booker T. Washington in establishing over 5,000 schools for African Americans in the Jim Crow South; Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, about Gertrude Berg, who created the first television sitcom; and the Emmy-nominated and Peabody-awarded The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, about the Hall of Famer who faced anti-Semitism during the ’30s. Both Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg and Hank Greenberg grossed over a million dollars at the box office and are highly ranked, along with Rosenwald, on Rotten Tomatoes.
She also produced the award-winning documentary Partisans of Vilna, about Jews fighting the Nazis.Kempner also co-wrote and is co-producing the dramatic script Casuse with fellow Imagining the Indian producer Ben West. The project is about the Navajo activist Larry Casuse, who Kempner knew while a VISTA volunteer in New Mexico in the early ’70s. Kempner graduated from the University of Michigan in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and in 1971 earned her master’s in urban planning. In 1976, she earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law.
Kempner lives in Washington, DC where she plays a prominent role in the artist and film community. She started the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990 and was on the board of Women and Film and Video. She is also an activist for voting rights for the District of Columbia.
She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, recipient of the 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2000 DC Mayor’s Art Award: 2001 Women of Vision award from D.C.’s Women in Film and Video chapter, the 2001 Media Arts award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Awardee. Kempner received the Bernardo O’Higgins Award and in 2017, a honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of the District of Columbia in 2018 and the Moment award in 2019.
She writes film criticism and feature articles for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Crystal City Magazine, The Forward, Baltimore Jewish Times, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Legal Times, New York Times, The Wrap, Washington Jewish Week and The Washington Post.
Marian Sears Hunter (Editor) is a documentary editor based in New York. She edited Kempner’s previous films on Hank Greenberg and Julius Rosenwald, which addressed the issues of anti-Semitism and racism. Hunter will edit this new documentary short about legislative sexism. She also edited the film Archaeology of a Woman in 2012, a film that tells the story of a mother’s dementia and the difficult decisions her daughter has to make as a result.
Alison Richards (Associate Producer) has worked in documentary film and television production and research for the past 20 years.
She was the associate producer of both Aviva Kempner’s The Spy Behind Home Plate and Rosenwald, special DVD package which includes over four hours of extras and an educational packet.
Richards was associate producer of NOVA’s Spies that Fly, a history of unmanned aerial vehicles. Her work in research and production also includes: John Marshall, The Man Who Made The Supreme Court; When My Time Comes: A Conversation about Dying with Diane Rehm; Smithsonian’s Stories from the Vaults with Tom Cavanagh, a behind-the-scenes look at the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex; the WGBH Emmy Award-winning story, Why the Towers Fell, about the collapse of the World Trade Center; NOVA’s Bioterror: Coping with the New Reality; the WGBH Peabody award-winning series Building Big with David Macaulay: Bridges, Domes, Skyscrapers, Dams, Tunnel; and the independent film, Tale of the Tongs.
Richards received a Master’s in Documentary Film from American University and a certificate in Copyright from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yemen, grew up in Southern California and has a BA degree in English from the University of California at Irvine.
Connie Coopersmith (Associate Producer) is a political communications expert and television producer based in Washington, DC.