Lexi Leban, Executive Director
lleban [at] sfjff.org
Lexi Leban brings 20 years of experience as an educator and award-winning independent filmmaker to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. She comes to SFJFF from the Art Institute of California - San Francisco where she was the Academic Director of the Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program. She created the Bachelor's degree program and, in this capacity, built out a new state-of-the-art HD television production studio, created innovative curriculum in new media production and distribution, and initiated collaborative partnerships with Bay Area media organizations and non-profits.
As a Producer/Director, Leban has made award-winning films that focus on women's rights, criminal justice and LGBT issues. Her films have screened widely at festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Leban's feature documentary, Girl Trouble, was funded by ITVS and KQED, and aired nationally on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens. Girl Trouble won Best Bay Area documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival and an interactive game based on the film debuted at Sundance. The national outreach and engagement campaign for the film gained the support of the National Juvenile Justice Network and garnered the Prevention for a Safer Society Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
For the past 8 years, she has worked in web operations and promotions for New Day Films, a 40 year old filmmaker-run educational distribution company with over 230 award-winning films. She has worked at the Mill Valley Film and San Francisco International Film Festivals and was a board member of the Film Arts Foundation. Her non-profit organization, Critical Images Inc. has created educational media and promotional videos for non-profit organizations in the Bay Area. She has a BA degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University.
Jay Rosenblatt, Program Director
jrosenblatt [at] sfjff.org
Jay Rosenblatt is an internationally recognized filmmaker whose work has received many awards. A selection of his films had theatrical runs at the Film Forum in New York and at theaters around the country. Eight of his films have been at the Sundance Film Festival and several of his films have shown on HBO/Cinemax, the Independent Film Channel and the Sundance Channel. Articles about his work have appeared in the Sunday NY Times Arts & Leisure section, the LA Times, the NY Times, Filmmaker magazine and the Village Voice. Jay is a recipient of a Guggenheim, a USA Artists grant and a Rockefeller Fellowship. He has served on numerous festival juries throughout the world including the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the Tampere Film Festival in Finland. In 2002, he co-produced and curated the 9/11 program “Underground Zero” which was named one of the Ten Best Films in 2002 by the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2005, Jay received the inaugural Freedom of Expression Award from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
Jay is originally from New York and has lived in San Francisco for many years. Since 1989, he has taught film at various universities in the Bay Area, including Stanford University, S.F. State University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. He has a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and, in a former life, worked as a therapist.
Owen Levin, Administrative Director
olevin [at] sfjff.org
Owen Levin has broad experience in the film business, with stints in acquisitions, international sales, marketing, publicity, distribution and production for companies including Miramax Films and The Shooting Gallery. Before joining SFJFF, Owen worked as COO and Line Producer for Stick Figurre Productions, a documentary film and television company in New York. In this capacity he Line Produced the HBO series "Family Bonds" as well as the documentary "loudQUIETloud", a film about the band The Pixies among other projects. He is delighted to be helping connect quality films and engaged audiences through the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
Originally from New Hampshire with a long stint in New York City, Owen lives in Berkeley with his wife and two kids and is enjoying the food, weather and natural beauty of the Bay Area. He has a BA from Vassar College and a MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University.
Sam Ball, New Jewish Filmmaking Project Director
Sam Ball is an award-winning filmmaker, whose work has been exhibited at modern art museums around the world, including New York’s MoMA, Washington's Hirschorn Museum and the Pompidou Center in Paris; at many film festivals, including Sundance (1996 and 2000); and on PBS. His Jewish-subject films include PLEASURES OF URBAN DECAY, about cartoonist Ben Katchor and POUMY about a 92-year-old Jewish woman who fought in the French resistance during WW II. Ball has also received commissions to make films for several not-for-profit organizations including the National Yiddish Book Center (A BRIDGE OF BOOKS, 2001, is currently touring the many Jewish Film Festivals around the world). In 2001, he was awarded a fellowship from Joshua Venture to launch the New Jewish Filmmaking Project with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the largest, most prestigious event of its kind. The New Jewish Filmmaking Project gives teenagers the resources and training they need to tell their own Jewish stories and exhibit their work around the world.
A dual citizen of France and the United States, Ball holds a Masters Degree in documentary film production from Stanford University (1995) and a BA from McGill University in Montreal, where he studied under Ruth Wisse and earned the Yaffee Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Yiddish Studies. He is the founder of Citizen Film. a San Francisco-based production company.
Kerri Gawryn, Director of Development
kerri [at] sfjff.org
Before joining the SFJFF staff, Kerri Gawryn spent six years as a social advocate for homeless individuals and domestic violence survivors. Her interest in the arts and social policy runs deep: for her masters thesis at San Francisco State University, she created a community organizing photography workshop and directed and produced the accompanying documentary film, Exposing Homelessness.
Joshua Moore, Associate Programmer
jmoore [at] sfjff.org
Joshua has worked for both Michael Douglas and Francis Coppola and as a programmer at the Mill Valley Film Festival and editor for the San Francisco International Film Festival before joining SFJFF.
A graduate of the Los Angeles Film School and San Francisco State University, Joshua earned his degree in Cinema theory and production, and worked as a teaching assistant in courses focusing on film history and international cinema.
An indpendent filmmaker, Joshua's debut feature, I Think It's Raining had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July 2011. When not watching and making films, Joshua can be found riding along the Northern California coastline on his vintage motorcycle.
Natalia Guecheva, Production & Hospitality Coordinator
nguecheva [at] sfjff.org
A production manager for film events, location and casting manager, Natalia has a successful track record in the film and event industry. Before joining the SFJFF team, she worked many years for the SWISS FILMS foundation organizing the Swiss Film Prize, the Swiss Cinema Day at the Film Festival Locarno, the Short Film Night Tour and the OrangeCinema Open Air. During her studies she produced different talk shows, sitcoms and reality shows for the Swiss National Television.
Natalia was born in Geneva, Switzerland and has a Masters Degree in science of the media, science of the cinema and criminology from the University of Zurich. Since autumn 2010 she lives on and off in San Francisco and enjoys the rich diversity of people and film events in the city.
Patrik Nylund, Development & Membership Associate
pnylund [at] sfjff.org
Patrik has a BA from Wesleyan University. As part of his undergraduate education, he spent six months in Jerusalem as a student at Hebrew University, Rothberg School of International Studies. Master's degree in Political Science from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden.
Patrik moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1990s. Since then, he has worked with non-profit development and marketing. Patrik has also worked with electronic media as a freelancer, including video editing. He was born in Sweden. Patrik moved permanently to the US in the early 1990s.
Luis Mamayson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
lmamayson [at] sfjff.org
Executive Director Lexi Leban
Administrative Director Owen Levin
Program Director Jay Rosenblatt
Development & Special Events Manager Kerri Gawryn
Associate Programmer Joshua Moore
Office Manager Doug Blakely
Development & Membership Coordinator Talia DeVault
Bookkeeping Assistant John Valte
Marketing & Publicity Manager Emma Sarnat
Community Outreach Coordinator Myra Feiger
Marketing Strategist Marc Smolowitz
Print & Web Production Manager K Sato
Publicity Coordinator Jeff Ross
Festival Publicists Karen Larsen, Leo Wong, Ani Klose
Hospitality Coordinator Natalia Guecheva
Production Manager Jeff Ross
Interns Justine Armen, Gina Cargas, Taylor Cheney, Alex Collins, Alex Dixon, Jacqueline Gliozzi, Zoe Herman, Sara Nolan, Courtnee Rizzo, Madeleine Simpson
Volunteer Coordinator Daniel Sasson
Volunteer Coordinator, Marin Alysanne Taylor
Events Coordinator Suzy Drell
2012 SFJFF Trailer MendeDesign, Ed Feldman, Alex Collins
2012 SFJFF App Frames Per Sound: Talia DeVault, Matt Ozer
Sponsor Reel Alex Collins
Hospitality Assistants John Bouvier, Brian Freeman, David Gutierrez
House Manager, SF & Berkeley Brad Robinson
House Manager, Palo Alto Gino Caputi
Technical Director Hal Rowland
Ticketing Services Box Cubed: Mitch Vaughn, Ben Armington, Matthew Wanlin
Copy Editor Miguel Pendás
Print Traffic Coordinator Alexandra Cantin
Print Traffic Assistant Chris F. Powell
Print Broker Donna Steger
Pre-screeners 2012 Justine Armen, Margot Breier, Bonnie Burt, Alexander Collins, Audrey Daniel, Barbara Davis, Myra Feiger, Jackie Grieff, Debbie Hoffmann, Nick Jimenez, Maria Judice, Nancy Kates, Vivian Kleiman, Donna Korones, Jan Krawitz, Sarah Lefton, Moshe Levin, Laurie Lezin-Schmidt, Alexis Lezin-Schmidt, David Liu, Judy Montell, Frances Nkara, Sarah Nolan, Courtnee Rizzo, Shevi Rosenfeld-Loewinger, Dan Rosenthal, Harvey Schwartz, Jennifer Schwartz, Emmy Sharlatt, Tommie Smith, Susan Stern, Mark Valentine, David Volansky, Jeremy Widen, Diane Wolf
Creative Direction & Design MendeDesign
Additional Copywriting Lee Friedman
Additional Graphic Design K Sato, Talia DeVault