The People Behind the Film
Paula Weiman-Kelman, Director, Co-producer
Paula Weiman-Kelman is a Jerusalem based documentary filmmaker and a partner in not-so-simple productions. Eyes Wide Open is not-so-simple production's most recently completed film. For that project Weiman-Kelman followed a wide variety of American Jews journeying to Israel.
For the current not-so-simple production Weiman-Kelman has been filming in Canada, the US, Poland and Israel, documenting compelling families whose lives reflect divergent, complex and ultimately intriguing commitment to being Jewish.
Weiman-Kelman's previous films include Rites of Passage: The Spiritual Journey of Alice Shalvi which was broadcast in the United States as an ABC TV Network Special. Her film Blessings: Roommates in Jerusalem follows two older women with developmental disabilities as they prepare for their Bat Mitsvah. It premiered in Israel at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, in Europe at the Berlin Jewish Film Festival and in the United States at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
Weiman-Kelman has traveled extensively documenting life around the world. She has filmed the Dalai Lama and the Pope visiting Israel, as well as countless young people preparing for their Bar Mitzvahs.
Born in Philadelphia in 1953, Weiman-Kelman has lived in Israel since 1976. She worked as a curator of Jewish and Israeli Film at the Jerusalem Cinematheque from 1984-1994. She was a member of Kibbutz Gezer from 1977 - 1983. Weiman-Kelman is married to Rabbi Levi Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman and the mother of three grown children.
Jonathan Lopatin, Producer
Jonathan Lopatin is a former Partner and Managing Director at the Goldman Sachs Group and is the founder of not-so-simple-productions, a documentary film company focusing on Jewish educational films. He retired from Wall Street in November 2000, after sixteen years with Goldman Sachs, where he was one of the managers of the Firm's foreign exchange sales and trading business. In 2009 he completed an MA in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also holds a Masters Degree in International Economics from the School of International Affairs at Columbia University and an A.B. in History form Vassar College. He serves as President of the Board of Directors the Nesiya Institute and as a member of the Boards of Directors of Mechon Hadar and of Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as of the Columbia University Center for Israel and Jewish Studies. He was formerly Secretary of the Board of Directors of the New Israel Fund, where he remains actively involved in the Fund's work supporting Jewish religious pluralism in Israel. He is married and is the father of two.
The following appeared on the Goldman Sachs Employee Website
A Twofold Path
Jonathan Lopatin retired as global head of foreign exchange sales in 2000 after a 16 year career at Goldman Sachs. Since then, he has pursued a twofold path of enterprise and education as a founder of not-so-simple-productions and a graduate student at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York.
With not-so-simple-productions, a not-for-profit documentary film company, Jon works to produce educational films that "initiate urgent, respectful and challenging communal conversations in the best spirit of [the Jewish] tradition." In addition to founding the company, Jon works as a producer on the films themselves. His most recent project, Eyes Wide Open, is a small-scale documentary about a diverse group of American Jewish tourists - orthodox, traditional and secular; young and old; liberal and conservative - who visit Israel. Through interviews and profiles, the film follows their distinctly personal experiences in an effort to understand their questions, conflicts, joys and pleasures.
In producing the project, Jon was surprised to find that film-making reminded him very much of working at Goldman Sachs. "As a producer, I find myself using the same skills I used as a manager, organizing people to produce a product. What I liked best about being at the firm was working so closely with a smart, intense, small group of people who share a common sense of purpose and collective ownership of a project. Making documentaries has been like that for me. The process is similar and connected to the same spirit."
In addition to working with not-so-simple-productions, Jon devotes a significant amount of time to his studies at the JTS. He had virtually no formal Jewish education when he left Goldman Sachs nine years ago, and pursuing advanced Judaic studies without a working knowledge of Hebrew is impossible. Jon spent several years learning the language before entering the JTS's Master's program three years ago; today, he is in the process of taking his oral exams and will graduate with an MA this year.
Jon admits that some find his story a peculiar one given his background. He says, "People on the outside think of Wall Street as a very cold place, but anyone who's worked there for a long time realizes it's also a very personal place. At Goldman, you learn to connect people's talents with the roles they have to take on. Tremendous time is invested in people's personal growth and in identifying weaknesses, not just of people but of institutions. Most of the students I take classes with are young people studying to be rabbis, and I've been able to talk with a lot of them about their roles, applying the same rigor I learned at Goldman Sachs to other people and institutions who can benefit from that type of focus. Being at Goldman and learning to see those things so well will impact anything else you go on to do."
Jon's pursuit of a graduate degree from the JTS stems from his life-long interest in scholarship and his burgeoning passion for the subject matter. "I always enjoyed being a student," he explains, "and if I hadn't done what I did earlier in life, I may have pursued a scholarly career. But at this point, I'm not pursuing this for practical reasons, just for the love of the subject. It's so human, and that's what makes it so interesting to me. There's a tradition of people studying throughout their lives, immersing themselves in Jewish texts. I'm happy to be a part of that." To learn more about not-so-simple-productions and view a trailer of Eyes Wide Open, please visit the film's Web site
Stuart Schoffman, Screenwriter
Schoffman is a writer and educator whose commentaries on culture and politics are widely read in the Jewish world. He has been an Associate Editor and columnist at The Jerusalem Report since the magazine was founded in 1990, and is a Research Fellow in advanced Jewish studies at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He has long been involved in the field of Israeli-Diaspora relations as a lecturer to American Jewish groups visiting Israel; and also lectures frequently in the U.S. at the invitation of such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League, the New Israel Fund, AIPAC, and the United Jewish Communities, as well as synagogues, community centers, and universities. A native New Yorker, he received his B.A. from Harvard in 1969, and an M.Phil. in history from Yale in 1972. He worked as a reporter for Fortune magazine and a staff writer at Time. He taught film at the Claremont Colleges in California, and American Jewish history at the University of Texas. He also worked as a Hollywood screenwriter, and taught screenwriting at the University of Southern California film school. After making aliya in 1988, he taught film at Tel Aviv University and the Sam Spiegel School of Film and Television in Jerusalem. He wrote The Wordmaker, a drama for Israel Television about Hebrew-language pioneer Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. He served as a consultant to the Israeli-Palestinian co-production of Sesame Street, and as script editor of the recent Israeli film Walk on Water. He is a member of Kehilat Kol Haneshama and serves on the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. For many years, he has also been a member of the San Francisco Amuta, the Israeli advisory board of the Jewish Federation of San Francisco. Schoffman is married to Roberta Fahn Schoffman and is the father of two.
Hila Waldman, Editor
Waldman is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film School. Her skills as an editor of sensitive documentaries have made her much sought after by both novice and experienced directors of film and television. Her recent credits include Tarnigolm (Oded Kotler), an Independence Day feature of Israel television and I Laughed Till I Cried (Tomer Hyman), the story of five young women with cystic fibrosis, for which she was nominated Best Editor at Doc Aviv, Israel's most prestigious documentary festival. Her video art collaboration with artist Rona Yefman was recently part of a group exhibition at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, NY. Waldman and Weiman-Kelman have worked together since 1998. Waldman was the editor of the ABC-TV network special Rites of Passage: The Spiritual Journey of Alice Shalvi, as well as Blessings: Roommates in Jerusalem. In addition, Waldman teaches editing at JumpCut and at the College of Emek Yizrael. Waldman was born on Kibbutz Givat Oz to parents who were recent immigrants from Brazil. She is married to Amnon Kotler and the mother of three.
Cara Saposnik, Associate Producer
Saposnik has worked in the field of documentary film for over 15 years. As head of distribution at New Day Films, Cara gained a knowledge and expertise in the field of educational programming and learning dissemination. She worked closely with film festivals, educational institutions and individual producers. Cara has an M.A. in Film History from New York University, where she wrote her final project on film as a teaching tool and the importance of media education. Saposnik lives in Jerusalem with her husband Rabbi Rich Kirschen and three children.
Hamutal Gouri, Development Director
As Director of Overseas Relations and Donor Services for the New Israel Fund (2000-2006), and as Organizational Consultant for Shatil (1990 - 2000), Gouri was involved in a range of activities including resource development, research and program development, and liaison to major donors. Her experience also included planning and implementing study tours and exploratory missions, as well as facilitating workshops for visiting donors. Gouri is currently an independent consultant. Her expertise include donor services, project and program development and group facilitation. A graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Hamutal is currently working toward her MA in Cultural Studies. Gouri resides in Jerusalem with her husband and two children.
Shaul Besser, Composer
Besser is an accomplished musician and composer whose work in theater and film have made him very much in demand. A graduate of the New School NY, Jazz program, Besser most recently participated in the Israel Piano Festival and an Evening with Amos Oz. In addition to playing with a variety of jazz ensembles, Besser has composed original music for a range of theatrical productions and film scores. A resident of Tel Aviv, Besser is currently involved with a number of projects and ventures.
Micah Smith, Additional Editor
An active filmmaker on many fronts, Smith's documentary work in Israel serves clients in Israel, the United States, and Europe. Smith has produced and directed promotional videos for businesses, schools, camps, foundations,and other not-for-profit organizations across the denominational spectrum and across the United States and Israel. He is also an accomplished narrative filmmaker whose films have played in over 50 film festivals around the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Austria, Hong Kong, and Argentina. His educational films and short films have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in live programs and on the Internet. Micah made aliya in 2004 and lives with his wife and daughter in Jerusalem.