An award-winning filmmaker with a passion for history and social justice, Roberta Grossman has written, directed, and produced more than 40 hours of film and television. What sets her films apart are high production values, beautiful cinematic craftsmanship, and inspiring protagonists. Grossman’s films tell stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the name of justice. According to Grossman, “making a documentary is like pushing Sisyphus’s rock up a steep mountain. The only way to summit is to have a sense of personal responsibility to tell a story that would otherwise remain untold.”
Grossman produced and directed Who Will Write Our History, a 2018 feature-length documentary about Emanuel Ringelblum and the secret archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, co-produced by Arte and NDR. Also in 2018, Grossman co-directed with Sophie Sartain the Netflix Original Documentary Seeing Allred, about women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Seeing Allred, produced by Marta Kauffman (Friends, Grace and Frankie) premiered in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was described as “remarkably engaging" (The New York Times), “utterly fascinating” (CNET), and “the perfect companion to the #MeToo movement" (Variety). With producer Nancy Spielberg and director Laura Bialis, Grossman currently is producing All This Life: The Many Worlds of Roman Vishniac.
In 2014, Grossman directed Above and Beyond for producer Nancy Spielberg, about the American–Jewish WWII pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in the 1948 War. That film won audience awards at more than 20 film festivals worldwide. Grossman’s 2012 Hava Nagila (The Movie), which used the song as a portal into 150 years of Jewish history, culture, and spirituality, was the opening or closing night film at more than 30 film festivals. Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Grossman’s 2008 film produced by Marta Kauffman, was shortlisted for an Academy Award, won audience awards at 13 film festivals, aired on PBS/Independent Lens, and was nominated for a prime time Emmy Award.
Grossman also produced Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, which aired on PBS/American Masters in 2014, and executive-produced On the Map in 2016 for director Dani Menkin. Grossman was the series producer and co-writer of 500 Nations, the eight-hour CBS series on Native Americans hosted by Kevin Costner. Her film Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, aired on PBS in 2005.
Grossman is the executive producer and co-founder with Lisa Thomas of the nonprofit production company Katahdin Productions. She is a three-time recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a panelist for the WGA Documentary Screenplay Awards. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, earning a degree with honors in history, and she received an M.A. in film from the American Film Institute.
In April 2018, Roberta Grossman received the Washington Jewish Film Festival’s Annual Visionary Award which recognizes “creativity and insight in presenting the full diversity of the Jewish experience through the moving image.” In the past ten years alone, Grossman has directed and produced four feature documentaries about Jewish history and culture – Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Hava Nagila (The Movie), Above and Beyond, and Who Will Write Our History – and a fifth film about a Jewish heroine, Seeing Allred.
Grossman’s films have teamed her with leading Hollywood producers, including Marta Kauffman and Nancy Spielberg. The films have screened in theaters and at major international festivals, including the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. They have garnered an astonishing 52 awards at Jewish film festivals. And, as Grossman observes, they serve a higher purpose, one tied to her Jewish identity: “Every year at Passover, we tell the story to pass our history and values on to the next generation,” she says.“There is no more compelling way to preserve and pass on the Jewish story than through film.”
Congregation Beth Israel, Carmel: Friday, March 1, following 7:30 p.m. Shabbat service (approximately 8:10 p.m.); Saturday, March 2, at 10:30 a.m. Roberta's topics:
Ten Years/Five Films: Telling the Jewish Story. A talk about Jewish history and a career making Jewish films with clips from Hava Nagila (The Movie), Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Above and Beyond, Seeing Allred, and Who Will Write Our History.
Sisterhood Is Powerful – And Jewish. A talk with clips from Roberta’s films about her on-screen heroines Hannah Senesh, Rachel Auerbach, and Gloria Allred, and the powerful Jewish women behind the scenes – including Marta Kauffman and Nancy Spielberg – who helped her bring their stories to life.
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