January 24, 2021 – 7:00pm to 8:30pm Cinematheque returns with The Passengers, a story of a community of Ethiopian Jews and its struggle to emigrate to Israel. Two best friends, Demoz and Gezi, depart Gondar for America as representatives in a grassroots advocacy campaign designed to rally American Jews to support their cause. Along the way, they confront culture shock, homesickness, and the pressures of representing their abandoned community. With intimate access and detailed historical context, their own journey reveals the thorny politics surrounding Ethiopian and American Jewry, and the Zionist ideal. Filmmaker, Ryan S. Porush and activist, David Alcott will be joining our discussion of the film. Mr. Alcott was the inspiration behind the tour to the American Jewish community to rally support for the aliyah of the remaining Ethiopians to Israel. The film and registration will be made available to members in January. Watch the trailer. Questions?
David Elcott has spent the last thirty years at the intersection of community building, the search for a theory of cross-boundary engagement, and interfaith and ethnic organizing and activism. Trained in political psychology and Middle East affairs at Columbia University and Judaic studies at the American Jewish University, Dr. Elcott is the Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and faculty director of the Advocacy and Political Action specialization at Wagner. Ryan S. Porush is a documentary filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles. He has produced, filmed, and edited documentaries and short films around the world, with an emphasis on telling long-form, character-driven stories that give voice to marginalized communities. The Passengers (2020), Ryan’s first feature film, won the Human Rights Jury Prize at the 2020 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and has been acquired for distribution by Collective Eye Films and Giant Interactive. Ryan’s first short film, Two Hundred Percent (2016), won the top documentary prize at the LA Reel Film Festival. Ryan received a BA from UC Santa Barbara, and a Master’s in Documentary Journalism from NYU.