The MGSDII, in partnership with the Joyce Forum Jewish Short Film Festival, hosted two award winning young Israeli short filmmakers (one Jewish and one Arab) for an Artist in Residence program for two weeks in October 2018. The filmmakers, Moshe Rosenthal and Eli Rezik (bios below), participated in master classes at universities throughout San Diego during their two-week residency.
Through the curation of eight short films, which represented a wide variety of socio-cultural topics concerning Israel – including poverty, feminism, gender, the conflict and religion – the filmmakers presented the best of Modern Israel to the San Diego community. A fun thing to note, Moshe and Eli had not met before getting on the plane to San Diego. The beauty of this program is that it brought to filmmakers from two very different walks of life and immersed them in a setting where they developed a professional relationship, and even more, a friendship. Most of their free time was spent together laughing and bouncing new script ideas off each other. It was joy to host these filmmakers, getting to know each of them personally and sharing in the experience of viewing their films with students and the community.
The filmmakers spoke at every university in San Diego (UCSD, SDSU, CSUSM, and PLNU), presenting their films and answering questions from a diverse student body at each campus. Many of the students had never met anyone from Israel, and were able to put a human face to an otherwise nuanced perception of the country. Professors shared the powerful impact they had on their students, mentioning how impressed they were by the films and were excited about the rich conversations emanating from the filmmakers’ question and answer sessions following each screening.
Their time in San Diego culminated in a classroom talk at UCSD. Professor Jennifer Pantoja opened her history of Jerusalem course, which focuses on sacred space formation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Her 300-student class was the perfect way to end Moshe and Eli’s time in San Diego. Professor Pantoja remarked how the filmmakers depicted the full range of human emotions in their shorts. The students asked questions related to where the films were made, how they were funded, LGBTQ+ society in Israel, how they got into screenwriting, what inspires them, among others.
In all, Moshe and Eli spoke to over 1,000 university students during their time in San Diego.