Jewish Film Institute Announces 2024 Filmmakers in Residence

Jewish Film Institute
12 min readFeb 27, 2024
Image 1: Emma D. Miller, Father Figures, United States. Image 2: Udi Nir & Sagi Bornstein, The First Lady, Israel

San Francisco, CA, February 29, 2024 — The Jewish Film Institute (JFI) is pleased to announce that six independent documentary projects helmed by seven filmmakers from around the world have been selected as the 2024 JFI Filmmakers in Residence. The current Residents, who together comprise the most international cohort in the program to date, present a range of stories and perspectives that embody JFI’s vision of a more informed and empathetic world where vital Jewish content films are made, watched, shared and treasured. For more information, visit

The 2024 JFI Filmmakers in Residence are: Emile Bokaer (We Play Cinema); Jeremy Borison (Alliance); Hervé Cohen (This Little Song); Emma Miller (Father Figures); Udi Nir and Sagi Bornstein (The First Lady); and Amanda Rubin (The Third Reich of Dreams: Dreaming Under Dictatorship).

The JFI Filmmakers in Residence Program, now in its tenth year, is the only U.S.-based residency program of its kind for independent media projects focused on Jewish-content stories. The program offers a yearlong, intensive artist development initiative that provides creative, marketing, and production support for emerging and established filmmakers whose projects explore the plurality and complexity of Jewish history, life, culture and identity. The Residents will develop and strengthen their in-progress film projects through collaborative workshops and trainings, culminating in an online pitch forum in November 2024.

The 2024 cohort reflects a broad spectrum of Jewish identity and experiences, representing a diversity of cultural backgrounds and levels of religious observance while spotlighting projects that advance critical conversations around LGBTQ+ representation, gender hierarchies, and Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish cultures.. The Residency accepts emerging, mid-career, and established filmmakers, with cohorts benefiting from the creative exchange that occurs between the dynamics and differences inherent to different stages of the filmmaking process, different levels of experience, and different types of storytelling.

“Our applicant pool grew exponentially this year, and it was a challenge to choose from such a robust ecosystem of dynamic projects,” said Marcia Jarmel, Director of Filmmaker Services, Jewish Film Institute. “Each project exemplifies the kind of independently visioned, nuanced, and genre-expanding work that JFI seeks to nurture.

Residents participate in monthly cohort meetings, attend capacity-enhancing workshops with industry professionals and experts, consult with JFI staff on industry best practices in marketing, fundraising, production, and exhibition, and refine their project pitches to prepare for a culminating pitch forum. Residents also receive access to all JFI programs and events, support to attend a convening at the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, visibility through JFI communications, and access to the Ninth Street Independent Film Center’s on-site screening room in San Francisco.

The 2024 Residents were selected by the Jewish Film Institute’s leadership from a competitive pool of seventy-one projects. Building on the success of the 2023 Residency and the continuation of the annual Filmmaker in Residence Pitch Forum, Pitch+Kvell, JFI received a record number of documentary applications for 2024. Originally an in-person program, since 2020, the Residency Program has expanded to virtual convenings, opening the doors to filmmakers across the country and around the world.

Further information about each Filmmaker in Residence and their project is provided below.

2024 Filmmakers in Residence

Project descriptions and bios courtesy of the Residents

Emile Bokaer, We Play Cinema

We Play Cinema is a multi-generational documentary self-portrait by Emile Bokaer, created in collaboration with his father Tsvi Bokaer. Blending contemporary observational footage with Tsvi’s long-lost 1960s films, son and father place past and present in direct conversation, to illuminate the lasting truth: cinema is as essential as life itself. Tsvi Bokaer (born Elie Boccara) fell madly in love with the movies as a child, and continued dreaming “screen stories” his whole life — including now at 82. A “wandering jew”, Tsvi lived in Tunis, Paris, Israel, Berkeley, and Los Angeles, before landing in Ithaca, New York, where he built and ran our family movie theater Fall Creek Pictures, for years. Through footage filmed over the past decade, We Play Cinema shows Tsvi’s gradual transformation, from viewing himself as a failed filmmaker, only to excitedly return to producing original films for the first time in decades.

Emile Bokaer is a documentary filmmaker. His recent work as a producer includes A Field Guide to Coastal Fortifications (World Premiere IFF Rotterdam 2023, Winner Best Film Award BelDocs 2023), and The Street Network, a Stripe Press short film. His previous films have shown internationally, including at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, DocPoint Helsinki, and the Media That Matters Film Festival. Emile has worked in key roles on several other award-winning films and series including The F Word (ITVS Indie Lens Storycast 2018, LA Film Festival 2018, Gotham Awards Nominee 2018), True Conviction (Tribeca Film Festival 2017, Independent Lens broadcast, Nonfiction Vanguard Award San Francisco Independent Documentary Festival), True Son (Tribeca Film Festival 2014) and Informant (IDFA; Winner Grand Jury Prize DOC NYC 2012). He owns and operates the San Francisco production company Dogpatch Films, and is a graduate of Stanford University’s MFA Program in Documentary Film & Video. He lives and works in San Francisco, CA.

Jeremy Borison, Alliance

Yeshiva University has never been an inviting place for LGBTQ students, and the ongoing lawsuit between YU and its Pride Alliance student club has made that much more explicit. Molly Miasels and Eli S. were two of the student leaders who filed the lawsuit after YU officially rejected an LGBTQ student club. At the time, they were proud to be giving a voice to the many queer students on campus who felt ignored and often scared. However, though they knowingly became representatives for LGBTQ activism in the community, they didn’t expect the level of aggression they would face as representatives of YU’s anti-religious vitriol. In 2021, YU applied for a stay with the Supreme Court, which brought national attention to the lawsuit. Now, the Pride Alliance is being exploited for national political agendas in a fight between religious freedom and anti-discrimination.

Jeremy Borison is a queer, Modern Orthodox filmmaker originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He has participated in various initiatives that explore art and religion, as an Asylum Arts Fellow, a writer for Imagination Productions, and a fellow of the Start South art therapy program. His films have received grants from organizations including Micah Philanthropies, Aviv Foundation, and the Steven Spielberg-supported Jewish Story Partners, for their work towards LGBTQ inclusion in religious communities. Jeremy’s short films have played internationally and received awards including the Arthur Miller Creative Arts Award, the AES Short Film Competition, and the North Carolina Film Award. Jeremy recently completed his debut feature film Unspoken, about a closeted teenager in a Modern Orthodox community who finds a love letter from before the Holocaust written to his grandfather by another man. He is currently in production for the documentary feature Alliance, which follows the ongoing Supreme Court lawsuit between the Orthodox institution Yeshiva University and its LGBTQ student club. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Hervé Cohen, This Little Song

This Little Song takes us on a journey in Algeria, in the footsteps of a lost melody my Jewish grandmother used to sing to me in Arabic. From the arid lands of the south, where my grandmother’s roots lie, to the coastal city of Oran, my family’s former home, the film unfolds through a vibrant tapestry of characters. I aim to resurrect memories of an era when Jews and Muslims, Algeria’s indigenous communities, shared not only a culture and language but also the sheer joy of making music together. I will revisit a time when these communities not only coexisted but thrived together, fostering deep connections. Navigating the sensitive topic of the Jewish presence in Algeria which has been forgotten or worse purposely erased, my ultimate goal is to reconnect to my “Algerianism”, to my true Jewish-Arabic identity through an intimate, socially engaging, historical, and yet playful undertaking.

Hervé Cohen is an award-winning French-American filmmaker and cinematographer. He directed and shot Notes from the Forest, a short musical and poetic road documentary movie shot in the Peruvian Amazon with acclaimed musicians, among which Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding. Cohen’s latest work is the critically acclaimed and award-winning groundbreaking interactive web documentary and media installation Life Underground, a journey through the subways of the world and into the personal stories of their passengers. Cohen has also produced a worldwide collaborative project CoVisions — Young Filmmakers’ Voices at the Time of Corona. He is currently developing This Little Song, his first journey throughout Algeria, the land of his ancestors, in the search of the lost Judeo Arabic song his grandmother used to sing to him — a poetic and musical personal documentary revisiting the historical interrelations and interdependence between Jewish and Muslim communities in Algeria, through musical influences and beyond. He lives and works in Marseille, France.

Emma Miller, Father Figures

When Bruce, a retired theater director, begins posting deeply intimate conversations with his growing collection of ventriloquist’s dummies, his daughter Emma is left with questions. Why is Bruce deriving fulfillment from long talks with invented characters that he himself speaks for? And why does ventriloquism allow him to be more open than he is with his own daughter? In an attempt to understand Bruce’s motivations and repair a relationship fractured by divorce and infidelity, Emma digs into home videos, conducts interviews with Bruce’s puppets, and revisits sites from both of their childhoods. As she begins to recognize the key role performance has always played between them, Emma decides to commission the creation of dummies that resemble her and Bruce. Together, Emma and Bruce write, rehearse and film scripted scenes using their puppet avatars, allowing them to share more deeply than ever before and forge a new vision for their relationship.

Emma D. Miller is a documentary filmmaker, creative consultant, and the founder of Marcona Media. She produced Iliana Sosa’s Gotham Award-nominated, SXSW award-winning What We Leave Behind (ARRAY Releasing/Netflix), a New York Times “Critic’s Pick,” and recently directed the short documentary The School of Canine Massage, which will premiere at SXSW 2024. As development executive for nonfiction at Concordia Studio, she worked on Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning films that premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and Telluride, including TIME (Amazon Studios), Boys State (Apple TV+/A24), and Procession (Netflix). She was a casting associate for Showtime’s Couples Therapy series, associate producer of the Academy Award-nominated short documentary Knife Skills (The New Yorker), and associate producer of the Oscar-shortlisted, Sundance award-winning feature Unrest (Independent Lens/Netflix). Emma was named one of DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40” and is a Sundance Producing Lab Fellow. Emma is currently producing Elizabeth Lo’s Mistress Dispeller (Impact Partners / Anonymous Content) and co-producing a feature for National Geographic Documentaries. She is interested in forging new ways of seeing, connecting, and knowing through film.

Udi Nir & Sagi Bornstein, The First Lady

Israeli transgender pioneer Efrat Tilma had to flee the country as a teenager in 1967, when a police officer in Tel Aviv threatened to kill her if he ever sees her walking the streets in a dress again. She traveled on her own to Belgium, made a name for herself as a lip-sync artist, rubbed shoulders with European celebrities of the time, completed her transformation in Morocco, landed her dream job as a flight attendant, married a German businessman, divorced him after twenty years, moved back to Israel in 2005, and finally, at almost 60 years old, became the first Israeli transgender policewoman. Now in her seventies and a celebrated activist, Efrat must fight for her rights once again, while the country spirals into unprecedented political and social regression.

Udi Nir is a writer, director, and producer of documentaries. Udi studied playwriting at the Israeli School of Dramaturgy, and worked in theater, before meeting his partner Sagi Bornstein and turning to documentary filmmaking. Since 2022, Udi serves as a board member of the Israeli documentary association. Sagi Bornstein has 15 years of experience as a director, producer and editor of documentaries, reality and news. His work includes Golda (2019, DocAviv, DOC NYC, Arte, HOT8), #uploading_holocaust (2016, DOK Leipzig, BR, RBB, ORF, Keshet) and Kafka’s Last Story (2011, Arte, SWR, SVT, Channel 2, DOK Leipzig, awards in several European and American film festivals). He studied photography at Camera Obscura film school and worked for leading Israeli broadcasters before starting his own production company. They live and work in Haifa, Israel.

Amanda Rubin, The Third Reich of Dreams: Dreaming Under Dictatorship

In 1933, the dream-life of many Germans changed — almost overnight. Like seismographs of unfolding terror, their dreams became vivid and cinematic, grotesque and darkly humorous. Bedside lamps “turn traitor” denouncing the people who own them, a factory owner is unable to raise his arm to salute Goebbels who hobbles away in disgust, dragging his club foot; Hitler is dressed in ballooning purple-satin clown’s trousers; a concentration camp doctor discovers he is wearing seductively high boots that sparkle like diamonds. These dreams bear witness to the Nazi invasion of the collective unconscious, and they only survive because one woman risked her life to record and preserve them. Drawn from hours of rare audio-interview, alongside a newly-discovered archive of letters, manuscripts and photographs, The Third Reich of Dream’ documentary tells the captivating life-story of Jewish-journalist Charlotte Beradt, prominently featuring the almost-forgotten dream-collection she published in exile in the 1960’s. (Out of print in English for over 40 years, it will be republished by Princeton University Press after the US Election in 2024).

Amanda Rubin is a documentary/specialist factual director who works across arts/music, history, current affairs, and science on scripted and observational documentaries, topical magazine, and short form. Her film credits include: 21st Century Mythologies (about the life of French philosopher Roland Barthes for BBC Four), Danceworks (behind the scenes of great modern dancers) for BBC Four, two very high-rating op-docs for Channel 4’s flagship Cutting Edge Series, A Late Show Special: Runaway Wives and Home-Alone Kids for BBC 2, BROS: The Documentary for SKY Tv, The New Russia (5-part geography series) for Channel 4, The Unexplained for The History Channel, and Inside the Hesit for Discovery +. She lives and works in London, United Kingdom.

The Jewish Film Institute (JFI) champions bold films and filmmakers that expand and evolve the Jewish story for audiences everywhere. JFI inspires audiences through the transformative power of film and media to entertain and engage, to turn conversation into action, and to reframe understanding of Jewish cultures and identities. JFI’s annual public programs, which serve thousands of individuals in the Bay Area and United States, include the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), the first and largest Jewish film festival in the world, WinterFest weekend series, online film offerings, and special events with filmmakers, artists, and culturally diverse thought leaders. JFI’s Filmmaker Services support emerging and established filmmakers worldwide through the JFI Completion Grants, which provide finishing funds to feature and short films of all genres, and the JFI Filmmakers in Residence program, which provides documentarians with a year-long, community-driven program to enhance their creative, marketing, business, and production skills. For more information, visit



Jewish Film Institute

The Jewish Film Institute, based in San Francisco, champions bold films and filmmakers that expand and evolve the Jewish story for audiences everywhere.