Segments in this Video

Kempner's Background (02:13)


Aviva Kempner obtained degrees in psychology, urban planning, and law before deciding to pursue a film career. "Partisans of Aviva" and "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" are two of the filmmaker's documentaries. As a child of a holocaust survivor, Kempner felt compelled to share the moral dilemma of the Jews fighting the Nazis.

Learning Filmmaking (02:16)

Kempner learned the business side of filmmaking by working at a human rights' organization that distributed films. As a child, she watched films on the Holocaust and concealed it from her mother. "Partisans of Vilna" is her first film.

Film Exploration (03:19)

When "Partisans of Vilna" premiered, the filmmaker heard that Hank Greenberg died. Kempner wanted to explore why American Jews did not do more during the World War II. "Today I Vote for My Joey" is a 20-minute movie created through the AFI Woman in Film summer program.

Under-known Jewish Heroes (01:58)

Kempner went to the Jewish Museum in New York City, saw the exhibit "Jews Entertaining America," and discovered Mrs. Goldberg. "The Goldbergs" was a situational comedy that ran on television during the 1950s. Kempner compares "Friends" and "Seinfeld" to "Lucille Ball" and "The Honeymooners."

"Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" (02:41)

Watch a film clip detailing anti-Semitic America while Hank Greenberg played baseball in Detroit. Jews endured school quotas, racism, lost job opportunities, and were not allowed to stay in hotels.

"The Goldberg's" (04:05)

Gertrude Berg visited people in the neighborhood to understand their struggles; her husband typed her notes. Philip Loeb was blacklisted under McCarthyism and committed suicide. Kempner incorporates archival footage, black and white footage, and color interviews in her films.

Personal Connections in Filmmaking (04:43)

Kempner emphasizes making films that are personal— "The Life and Times of Hank Goldberg" took the filmmaker 13 years to complete. The "Ciesla Foundation" is named after her grandparents who were imprisoned at Auschwitz.

Directing Actors (04:47)

Kempner shares an anecdote about interviewing Walter Matthau. "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" culminates in Hank Greenberg shaking Jackie Robinson's hand. Kempner named "Yoohoo, Mrs. Goldberg" after Berg's ability to effectively incorporate product placement.

Upcoming Projects (01:36)

Kempner collaborated with Ben West to write "Casuse," a film about a Navajo activist who fought against alcoholism in Gallup. She is working on securing voting rights in Washington, D.C. Kempner wants to bring real life heroes and heroines to the screen.

Credits: Documentary Filmmaker: Film & TV Aviva Kempner—How to Make It In Film (00:59)

Credits: Documentary Filmmaker: Film & TV Aviva Kempner—How to Make It In Film

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Documentary Filmmaker: Film & TV Aviva Kempner—How to Make It In Film

Part of the Series : How to Make It In Film
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In this video, Rick Davis interviews Aviva Kempner, a long-time documentary filmmaker whose works cover a broad range of issues, such as homelessness, civil rights, and the Holocaust. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is one of her most noted works. The film won many awards, including the Peabody Award and awards from the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Kempner is also the founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival and the Ciesla Foundation, dedicated to producing and distributing films to educate the public on social issues of the past and present. Learn how industry professionals became successful in the How to Make It in Film series shot at George Mason University.

Length: 30 minutes

Item#: BVL118101

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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