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2018 Festival Guests

ROXanne Baker

USM Instructor and Deaf Community Activist — Present for Special Sneak Preview Disability Program

Roxanne Baker, a Portland native, is a Deaf Jewish alumnus of Governor Baxter School of the Deaf now known as Maine Educational Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MECDHH/GBSD), a graduate of Gallaudet University, and currently an American Sign Language instructor at USM . She enjoys promoting the beauty of ASL and Deaf culture.  She is also an advocate serving on the school board at her alma mater GBSD where she fights for early language acquisition and an improved learning environment for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. Roxanne is  also an actress  and member of the theater community. Her latest project was a play called “My Hands Remember” which she collaborated with a writer which was based and inspired on the first-hand account of Deaf Jewish woman’s escape from the horrors of Nazi Germany that was premiered at Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston. Roxanne is a mother and bubba to her precious sons and grandsons.


Rabbi Carolyn Braun

Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Portland — in attendance for Supergirl

Rabbi Carolyn Braun was ordained in 1988, a member of the first Rabbinic class to include women at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  Following her ordination, Rabbi Braun spent six years at Mount Holyoke College where she was the first rabbi and full-time Jewish chaplain.  Rabbi Braun has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El since 1994.  She serves on the Medical Ethics and Pastoral Services Committees at  Maine Medical Center and is on the Boards of Directors in Maine.  She also lifts weights competitively.

Alexandra Dean

Filmmaker — in attendance for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

Alexandra Dean is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer. She produced news-magazine documentaries for PBS before becoming a series and documentary producer at Bloomberg television, producing the series “Innovators, Adventures and Pursuits.” She also writes about invention for Businessweek magazine. She is a founding partner at Reframed Pictures.

SHada Diab

Lecturer, Colby College – in attendance for Oriented

Shada Diab is an art photographer, born in Tamra city in 1987, in the north of Israel (Lower Galil). Shada comes from a house full of love and passion for life, she is the eldest of 4 siblings, her father is a pharmacist and her mother worked as a banker. Graduated with honors from Haifa University in Fine Art & English Language and Literature. After receiving an award for her final art project from Haifa University and Hecht Museum, Shada began her journey of exhibiting her work in different places in Israel such as Nahariya, Turaan and Jerusalem. Her passion is to continue doing what she loves and expand her work and name not only locally but also globally. Her coming exhibition will take place in Waterville, Maine. In addition of being an artist Shada work as an international tour guide in Europe and an English  teacher in a high school in Tamra-Israel. She is a positive person who believes that if you choose a job that you love then you will never have to work a day in your life.

Rabbi Sruli DResdner

Rabbi, Congregation Shalom, Auburn – in attendance for Menashe

Rabbi Sruli Dresdner combines the best of many worlds — a scholarly background in Talmud and the law, musical virtuosity, a passionate Jewish spirit, and a gift for creating a happy and magical community.  His initial educational background and work experiences were in secular law in New York City.  After many years of in-depth Torah study, Rabbi Dresdner received Rabbinic Ordination from Dean Rabbi Yitzchak Wasserman, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from the Denver Talmudic Seminary.  In addition, Rabbi Sruli and his wife Lisa are international Jewish performers and personalities.  They have been featured on PBS-TV and National Public Radio, and have headlined at many international and national Jewish festivals.

Marie Follayttar Smith

Co-founder and co-director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership — in attendance for Heather Booth

Marie Follayttar Smith grew up in Cape Elizabeth, ME and lives in Scarborough. Marie is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of Mainers for Accountable Leadership: a federal PAC and group focused on holding Maine’s federally elected officials accountable to the people of Maine and their values. Smith is a founder and organizer with Moral Movement Maine and is working on the Poor People’s Campaign. Once labeled a subversive political artist Marie was a part of an art show shut down by the University of Southern Maine as state troopers including her uncle threatened to march upon the event in protest. Marie appeared on the Rachel Maddow show in December, spoke with Libby Chamberlain at the Pantsuit Nation book launch and is known to say, “onward out of apathy and in to action we rise.” Marie’s mission is to help everyone find a place in the movement.

Julie Fox

Bates College Visiting Assistant Professor, Dance Studies — in attendance for Mr. Gaga

Julie Fox is a native Texan, holds a BA in Theatre/Dance with a Minor in Philosophy from the University of Houston and an MFA in Dance from the Ohio State University. Her early movement studies included scholarships to both the Houston Ballet Academy and Hubbard Street, where she studied ballet, modern and contemporary dance. She has held adjunct faculty/visiting professor positions at the U of Houston, Denison U, Ohio U (2002-2011), and most recently was an Assistant Professor of Dance and Head of the Dance Minor Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2011-16). Fox has performed with Houston Grand Opera, Ballet Chicago, Karen Stokes Dance, Stephan Koplowitz, Hopestone, Leslie Scates, and many independent artists on planet Earth. Her choreographic works have been presented in public and academic venues in Houston, Columbus, OH, and Eau Claire, WI. Her creative activity/research includes interdisciplinary dance making utilizing set and improvised material presented in traditio a nal and alternative spaces, as well as written scholarship in the areas of Aesthetics, Dance Pedagogy, Curriculum Design and Assessment, and Writing Across the Curriculum, with particular interests in the teaching and learning of physical practice and creative process and the cross-disciplinary application of the multi-modal teaching approaches explored in Dance Studies.

David Greenham

Program Director, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine — in attendance for Uploading_Holocaust

David Greenham is an adjunct professor of Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta, and also works as a grant writer and consultant for non-profit organizations around the state. He has worked as a consultant with the HHRC since 2012, and joined the staff in the spring of 2013. Prior to coming to the HHRC, David spent 14 years leading The Theater At Monmouth, and has been a theater artist and arts administrator for more than 25 years. His first involvement in the HHRC was when he produced and acted in a professional production of The Diary of Anne Frank in the Michael Klahr Center in 2010. David is a frequent collaborator with the Maine Humanities Council, and most recently created and performed The Zany, Majestic Bard, a touring program in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. David serves on Boards for the Colonial Theater, and Everyman Repertory Theater.

Elizabeth Helizer

Executive Director, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine — in attendance for Uploading_Holocaust

Elizabeth Helizer began her time at the HHRC in January of 2012 as the Office Manager and an educator. In August of 2014 she was thrilled to be named Executive Director. Prior to that, she was the General Manager of The Theater at Monmouth in Monmouth, Maine where she also served as educational coordinator, company manager, directed, wrote original music and performed. Liz has performed and been the educational coordinator for several theaters throughout the United States. She has taught Holocaust workshops and guest taught theater and music workshops for over 10 years.

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs

Executive Director, Center for Small Town Jewish Life, Colby College  – in attendance for Oriented

Rachel Isaacs was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” (2014) by the Jewish Daily Forward.  Ordained in 2011 by the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow, Isaacs is the spiritual leader of Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville,  She is also the inaugural holder of the Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond chair in Jewish Studies, teaching courses in Hebrew, Jewish theology, and Jewish humor.  In 2016, she delivered the final Hanukkah benediction of the Obama Administration at the White House.  She is widely credited with the renaissance of Jewish life at Colby and in Waterville.

Emily Isaacson, PHD

Artistic Director, Oratorio Chorale and The Portland Bach Experience – in attendance for The Making of West Side Story

Dr. Emily Isaacson’s performances have been heraled as “inventive, enlightening, and moving” (Portland Press Herald) and “little short of phenomenal” (Maine Classical Beat).  Considered a dynamic, emerging leader, in 2008 Isaacson helped to launch Roomful of Teeth, a GRAMMY-winning new vocal music ensemble, and in 2015 was awarded third place for the American Prize in Performing Arts, Choral Conducting,   Isaacson is Artistic Director of the Oratorio Chorale, a symphonic chorus and professional orchester in southern Maine, and Artistic Director of the Portland Bach Experience, a festival celebrating the music of the Baroque era in both familiar and progressive formats that help listeners bridge the musical traditions of the past with the experience of the 21st century.

Su Langdon, EDd

Lecturer, Bates College and Sports Psychologist – in attendance for Supergirl

Su Langdon is a lecturer at Bates College and also maintains a private practice for sports psychology.  She received her doctorate in education in developmental studies and counseling from Boston University.  Her researach interests include conceptualizations and experiences of respect, bullying and other aspects of peer relations, and body image.

Maine gay Men’s Chorus

In attendance for West Side Story

The original Maine Gay Men’s Chorus was established in 1992 and performed in Maine until 2012.  The new Maine Gay Men’s Chorus was relaunched in January 2015.  The chorus performs frequently throughout the New England area.  Rehearsals are at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 425 Congress Street, Portland, Maine  on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:00.

 Justin McCann

Lunder Curator for Whistler Studies, Colby Museum of Art – in attendance for Carvalho’s Journey

Justin McCann is the Lunder Curator for Whistler Studies at the Colby Museum of Art and a PhD candidate in the history of Armerican and British art at Rutgers University.  With a BA and MA from Indiana University, Mr. McCann’s primary interest is the visual culture of the Anglo-American world of the “long nineteenth century” and the history of printmaking.

Jill McGowan

MECA Instructor, Textile and Fashion Design and Entrepreneur — Present for House of Z

Jill McGowan is the owner of Jill McGowan, Inc., which was launched in 1994 with a signature line of women’s white shirts inspired by Jill’s work as a pattern-maker for the Hathaway Shirt Co.,  the famed menswear manufacturer. After comparing her work on men’s shirts to women’s clothing of equal price, she realized the genuine need to improve the standard of women’s clothing. She has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Free University in Berlin, Germany, at the University of Maine in Orono and the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Jill’s shirts and seasonal collections are now available in over 300 specialty stores around the country and her work has been featured in publications such as Women’s Wear DailyHarper’s Bazaar, the New York TimesVictoria, Real SimpleMore, and the online fashion site Daily Candy.

Steve Rivo

Filmmaker, Carvalho’s Journey — in attendance for Carvalho’s Journey – Portland.

Filmmaker Steve Rivo has produced, directed or written documentaries for most major broadcast and cable television networks including PBS, CNN, MSNBC, Discovery and Nat Geo, as well as for filmmakers Alex Gibney, Robert Redford, Morgan Spurlock and Ric Burns. Selected credits include producer of “New York: A Documentary Film”, “Eugene O’Neil” and “Ansel Adams” for PBS, senior producer of “The Vice Guide To Everything,” for MTV, and a director of the CNN series’ “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Death Row Stories” and “Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man.” Documentaries he has produced have garnered Emmys, Du-Pont-Columbia, Peabody, IDA, Telly and Cine Golden Eagle awards. Rivo recently completed directing “Virus,” a forthcoming series on viruses for Discovery Channel. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at Hofstra University, where he teaches in their MFA program in documentary film.

Nell Shipman

Artistic Director, Portland Ballet — in attendance for Mr. Gaga

After dancing with Portland Ballet for ten years, Nell Shipman became the Artistic Director and School Director. She holds a B.F.A. in Dance Performance with High Honors from Butler University, and has performed and shown choreography in Portland, New York, Chicago, Boulder, Indianapolis, and Tbilisi.  Nell has taught and choreographed throughout the country. She has also appeared as a guest artist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, The Good Theater, 2008 Best of Broadway, PORTOpera as both dancer and choreographer, and with Ballet Conservatory of South Texas. Her choreography for Portland Ballet includes The Victorian Nutcracker, Jack the Ripper, Halloween Spooktacular, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, Dance for the Cure, Spoke of the Wheel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and works for the 2004-2008 Portland Dances! Choreographers showcase.

Maya Tepler

Filmmaker — in attendance for The Jerusalem Dream

Maya Tepler currently resides in Brooklyn, but she was born and raised in Topsham, Maine, and is a graduate of Mount Ararat High School. She is currently directing her first documentary feature film, “From Away”, that explores her family’s experience in Maine as they take in two teenage Burundian asylum seekers. She is also working on a series of shorts that features teenage refugees in Maine. As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, she is particularly interested in storytelling pertaining to racial justice, cross-cultural integration, and genocide. Maya works full-time producing documentary television. She is currently at TIME Inc. Other recent projects include “Rotten” (Netflix), “The Hunt with John Walsh” (CNN), and “Finding Your Roots” (PBS). Maya received a  B.A from the University of Pennsylvania.

Katalin Vecsey

Senior Lecturer, Bates College — will be present for Bates College showing of 1945

Katalin Vecsey is a Senior Lecturer in Theater and Vocal Director for theatrical productions at Bates College.  She received her doctorate from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary.  In addition to Bates, she has taught at Barczi Gusztav College and at drama conservatory programs in Budapest.  She has also served as a vocal director for academic and professional theater productions both in the United States and her native Hungary.

Leah WarSHAWski

Director and Producer — in attendance for Big Sonia

Leah Warshawski is a director and producer.  Her award-winning first feature film, “Finding Hillywood” screened at more than 65 festivals around the world.  She is currently co-executive producing the feature documentary “Personhood.”  Warshawski advised filmmakers on outreach, marketing, and hybrid distribution plans, and co-founded in 2012, a “LinkedIn” for Rwandan filmmakers supported by Bpeace and The Academy of Motion Pictures.  Leah is the granddaughter of of Sonia Warshawski, featured in her film “Big Sonia.”

Maya Zinshtein

Director and Producer — in attendance for Forever Pure

 Maya Zinshtein is an Israeli filmmaker and journalist, who emigrated from Russia during her childhood – now living in Tel Aviv. She holds a BA in Cinema and French studies, and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. She directed and produced Forever Pure (2016), which won Best Director & Best Editor Awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival and had its international premiere at Toronto Film Festival.  She has also produced other award winning documentaries, among them: Thieves by Law (by Alexander Gentelev, ARTE/ZDF), the inside story of Russian Mafia. For years as an investigative journalist (Haaretz newspaper) she covered many of the ills of Israeli society and directed investigative stories for Israeli channels.