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Samples from Jewish-Subject Films, Exhibitions and Student-Engagement Campaigns


This nationally televised PBS Special directed by Sam Ball is accompanied by a robust national public engagement campaign conducted over-the-air, online and in-person, in PBS markets around the country. The program centers around a transpartisan dialogue between two Stanford professors, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian David M. Kennedy, and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, inviting audiences to consider what ideals we ought to share in common, and what it will take to sustain American democracy.

785,000 people watched the film’s Feb. 2018 premiere, and the latest PBS/Nielsen report shows a total of 2.4M household impressions and more than 2.5M views have been garnered over-the-air and online to date. Additionally, in many communities, classrooms, community centers and public libraries around the country are holding in person screenings and community conversations. Thanks to support from the Covenant Foundation, JCCs participate in this campaign, with discussion prompts provided by Facing History and Ourselves. To watch the film and learn more about the public engagement campaign, visit


Student Responses to American Creed

Conversations about Citizen FIlm’s documentary American Creed are facilitated, in classrooms around the country, by educators trained through Citizen Film’s partnership with the National Writing Project and Facing History and Ourselves. More than 300,000 people watched “Student Responses.” More than 5,000 high school students submitted digital and traditional essay responses to prompts created by Facing History and Ourselves, including a unit for Navigating American and Jewish Identity


One of several media exhibits Citizen Film created for a Jewish Museum NY, exhibit on Chagall this documentary narrated by Ed Asner explores the life and times of Yiddish theatre director Solomon Mikhoels who worked with Chagall in Moscow. According the Forward: “Film sequences in the exhibit, including five minutes of GOSET’s King Lear and a brief, incisive documentary by Sam Ball, suggest that Mikhoels merits billing equal to Chagall…” More than 100,000 visitors to Jewish Museum NY, the Contemporary Jewish Museum SF and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts viewed this work.


This documentary short chronicles the adventures of Aaron Lansky, an enterprising 23-year-old who set out to rescue the world’s Yiddish books. The film, broadcast on public television in 2001, is still on permanent display in the primary exhibit gallery of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA where it is viewed by thousands of visitors per year.


This multimedia collaboration explores a remarkable intersection of history and music that took place as Truman, Stalin, and Churchill prepared to negotiate the end of World War II. The project includes a short film, The Rifleman’s Violin, as well as live, multimedia concert events directed by Sam Ball at Stanford University’s Bing Hall and at New York’s Lincoln Center. A partnership between Citizen Film and the Hoover Institution Archives, Potsdam Revisited: Overture to the Cold War was designed to reimagine the function of a modern archive as a powerful convener of public dialogue and historical reflection. This project includes a physical archive, a digital archive, and public media that reached nearly 500,000 people. Media from the project was packaged into a radio segment for NPR’s Weekend Edition, and a tv program for KQED.


This film made possible by the Foundation for Jewish Culture, explores the Yiddish-inflected world of MacArthur Genius award winner Ben Katchor. It premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and was presented at prestigious art museums around the world –Centre Georges Pompidou Cinema du Reel, MoMA Documentary Fortnight, etc. including many Jewish museums as part of various graphic novel exhibitions.


One of two Citizen Film/Les Films du Poisson co-productions for Franco-German and American public television, this documentary profiles artist Joann Sfar, who explores his Algerian-Jewish heritage in best-selling graphic novels. Joann Sfar Draws From Memory was telecast across the US in 2012 thanks to Citizen Film’s partnership with flagship KQED. Our collaboration with Les Films du Poisson and ARTE reached more than 1 million European viewers.


This short film was directed by Sam Ball for a site-specific multimedia installation created collaboratively with illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and performing artist Dan Wolf. The installation was featured in the atrium of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in celebration of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot, and elements Citizen Film created for that installation were also projected on the walls of the CJM as part of a “digital sukkah” multimedia production.


A selection of MoMA-New York’s Documentary Fortnight in 2005, this documentary produced by Marian Scheuer Sofaer and directed by Sam Ball tells the story of a young mother in the French Resistance. It is distributed to classrooms by Alexander Street Press and was viewed by more than 20,000 students through 2008, according to a survey conducted with the aid of a Koret Foundation grant. “Smart, funny… and a reminder of the power of a single, dedicated person under pressure.” –The New York Jewish Week


With support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the Covenant Foundation, Citizen Film and Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies fostered digital storytelling collaborations around the country, giving preeminent Jewish studies professors tools to collaborate with their students on innovative media productions. Students, professors and audiences engaged in imaginative explorations of Jewish themes, ranging from multimedia portfolios examining the work of New York photographers to short documentaries about Jewish life in the Pacific Northwest.


Director Sam Ball collaborated with Jewish Studies professor Deborah Dash Moore to create a series of iPad exhibits, a reinterpretation of Alfred Stieglitz’ photographs “The Equivalents,” for the Contemporary Jewish Museum exhibit Beyond Belief.