Ethan Bensinger, Director
In 2007, Ethan Bensinger created for the Selfhelp Home an archive of personal interviews with 30 residents who had been victims of Nazi persecution. Today, this archive can be found at Selfhelp, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, and online, courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.
That project inspired Ethan to film a one-hour documentary that highlights the diverse experiences of six of those Selfhelp residents and three of the home’s founders, before, during, and after WWII.
Ethan’s parents and grandparents were forced to flee the Nazi regime in the 1930s for a new life in Palestine. Ethan was born after the State of Israel was founded and then moved with his family to America in 1955. His family’s experience led Ethan to his chosen profession as an immigration lawyer, and for 25 years, Ethan served as the Managing Director of the Chicago office of a global immigration law firm. Since his retirement from law, Ethan has been involved in volunteer and philanthropic endeavors. He has also taken his interest in history and archaeology to write his blog, Sightseeing In Israel, a virtual tour of some of the most interesting “off the beaten track” sites to explore when traveling to Israel. With his film REFUGE, Ethan has turned his love of gathering historical narratives into a new career in filmmaking.
Beth Sternheimer, Producer
Beth Sternheimer is a producer and researcher for documentaries and museum projects. Most recently, she co-produced The Calling, a four-hour documentary series that broadcast in 2010 on PBS. Beth was the Associate Producer for Secrecy, an independent film on government secrecy and for Traces of the Trade, which chronicles the descendants of the largest slave trading family in US history as they retrace the Triangle Trade. Both films premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and Beth was nominated for a 2009 national Emmy Award for Outstanding Research on Traces of the Trade. Beth’s museum work includes producing exhibit videos for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Archives.
Ruth Epstein, Editor
Ruth Efrati Epstein has over 20 years of experience editing for television and theatrical release, as well as for corporate and not-for-profit clients. She built her career editing at some of Chicago’s leading creative editorial and post-production companies: Cutters, Editel Chicago and Skyview before founding her own company, Lime Mediaworks, in 2008. Ruth edited films that have screened at major film festivals around the country including Misleading Man, which was shown at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and Temporary Girl, starring Lisa Kotin, Scott Adsit and Dave Pasquesi. Past and current clients include: McDonald’s, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Anheuser-Busch, JCPenney, Sony, Equal, SeaWorld, Quaker and State Farm. Films and commercials for not-for-profit organizations include: The United States Department of Justice, The Off the Street Club, Public Allies and the Chicago International Film Festival.
Ben Avishai, Writer
Ben Avishai has been writing documentaries for over ten years. His work includes nationally broadcast programs and permanent museum installations across the country. Currently, he is writing and producing 37 programs for the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Las Vegas. Ben has written several History Channel specials, including Voices from Andersonville, The Spear of Christ, Primal Fear, and Underwater Universe. He also wrote and produced the 21 core films for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. He wrote a series of films for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about hidden children, and a series of films for New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage about resistance to the Holocaust.
Steve Zoloto, Composer
A native of Chicago, Steve Zoloto has a long history of recording studio work ranging from CD releases to film scoring and TV advertisements. His compositions range from simple, evocative scores to 80 piece orchestral creations. While his smaller treatments have been recorded by the finest musicians in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, his larger orchestral compositions have been recorded by the Czech Philharmonic, members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the Kansas City Symphony. Steve’s compositions and saxophone artistry have appeared in major motion picture releases such as Chain Reaction, Holes, and The Guardian. Steve has shared the stage and studio with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Louis Bellson, The Temptations, Rosemary Clooney, Ramsey Lewis, and noted Cantors David Goldstein (NSCI), Amy Zussman (Temple Jeremiah), and Jeffrey Klepper (Temple Sinai, MA). Steve holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.