One of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) is an international exhibition of cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image. In addition to the annual festival, the WJFF presents an ongoing, year-round film series, in our home venue at the DCJCC.

The WJFF annually serves over 15,000 people through 80+ screenings, nearly all of which are regional, US or world premieres.

Most screenings are followed by discussions with guest filmmakers and subject matter experts.

The 25th Festival will light up screens throughout the DC metropolitan area from February 19-March 1, 2015.


Ilya Tovbis became the director of the Washington Jewish Film Festival Director in September 2012. He has extensive programming experience in both the Jewish and broader film worlds, having previously worked with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), The Picture House, The JCC of NY’s Israel Film Center and the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Prior to coming on as the WJFF Director, Ilya was the Director of Programming at The Picture House, a historic arthouse cinema located in Southern Westchester. The theater annually attracted over 25,000 people to a varied selection of programming with a focus on international, documentary and independent film.Complementing an ongoing series of theatrical runs, the cinema routinely hosted in-depth panels, filmmaker Q&As and community screenings.

Before his tenure with The Picture House, Ilya worked at two of the nation's most prestigious Jewish film programs -- the SFJFF and The JCC in Manhattan's Israel Film Center (IFC). The SFJFF is the country's oldest and largest Jewish Film Festival, while the IFC is the preeminent US body focused on the promotion of Israeli cinema.


Sara Loeb graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in English Literature. After graduation she worked as the Event Coordinator at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix for two years, coordinating a wide range of events including fundraising galas, corporate functions, birthday parties, weddings and more.

In 2011 Sara decided to move to DC to further her career. Most recently she was the Box Office Manager for the 23rd Washington Jewish Film Festival. In February, Sara became the Coordinator for the Washington Jewish Film Festival.



Dina Gold, Co-Chair

Dina Gold, a former television journalist with the BBC in London, recently became a US citizen. She now works as a senior editor at "Moment" magazine.
Sid MoskowitzCo-Chair
Patty Abramson
Michele Berman
Ed Cohen

Ed Cohen is a lifetime thespian; classically trained at NNHS and UR. Cohen began a 41 year sabatical to practice tax law before auditioning  for Hollywood and Broadway. Told he needed Film Council experience, he is currently completing his 5th year on the WJFF Film Council. Spending his winters in Palm Springs may be the closest he gets to Hollywood. Cohen says, "It's a pleasure working with the members of our Film Council to bring great films to the DC area." 
Sara Cohen

Diane Wattenberg

Diane (pictured on her way to see Avatar) spent her childhood seeing movies at the Capitol, Palace and Columbia theaters on F Street.

As a teen, her Saturday afternoons were spent at the Sheridan theater on Georgia Avenue. She saw her first Bergman film (Wild Strawberries) at the Takoma theater. And she still loves going to the movies.


Aviva KempnerWJFF Advisor

Aviva Kempner’s career goal is to make films about under-known Jewish heroes. She produced and conceived Partisans of Vilna, wrote, produced and directed the critically acclaimed Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. Kempner directed, wrote and produced the Emmy nominated and Peabody awarded The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and its new DVD version. She is presently making The Rosenwald Schools.  Kempner also founded the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990.  
Miriam Mörsel NathanWJFF Director Emerita

Miriam Mörsel Nathan co-founded the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 1990 with Founding Director Aviva Kempner.  In addition to her work as Festival Director, she served as a Juror for the Mayor’s Award for Films of the Jewish Experience at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and was Co-Curator of the Israeli Film Festival for the Kennedy Center Celebration of Israel’s 50th Anniversary. A poet and visual artist, Miriam’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and is in private collections both nationally and abroad.

Summer 2014

Claire Graebner

Sandra Yael Mekler