Intimate Partners: The Ethics, Complexities, and Joys of Centering Family in Nonfiction Storytelling

This free panel examines the ethics, challenges, and joys of centering family in non-fiction storytelling. This year, our festival showcases four poignant documentaries from around the world—Charm Circle, Holding Moses, Love & Stuff, and Summer Nights—that beautifully engage with these themes. In this compelling conversation, the directors discuss their experiences in the process of creating these films.

Available via the JFI Digital Screening Room. Free ticket required.


Nira Burstein is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. She is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Her documentary film debut Charm Circle had its World Premiere at Sheffield DocFest in 2021 where it won the Audience Award and has played dozens of festivals, including DOC NYC where it won an award in the Metropolis Competition. Nira’s work has been supported by the Jerome Foundation & Jewish Story Partners.

Judith Helfand is best known for her unique voice as a first-person filmmaker. Three of her films have premiered at Sundance, and have been broadcast nationally on PBS, HBO, and The Sundance Channel. In 2016 she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Branch. Judith co-designed and launched the Jewish Film Institute's first-ever storytelling intensive and pitching forum, Pitch & Kvell. Her most recent film, LOVE & STUFF is about the importance of processing grief in community with others face to face and heart to heart.

Ohad Milstein is an award-winning Israeli documentary director and producer. He teaches Cinema at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Among his films are "Flood" (2018) "Week23" (2016) and his most recent, Summer Nights which won the First Prize at the 2021 DocAviv Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2021 Israeli Academy Awards.

Frankly Speaking Films was founded in 2020 by queer activist filmmakers Jen Rainin and Rivkah Beth Medow, both Film Independent fellows focused on telling mesmerizing stories that center LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people. Their first projects include Ahead of the Curve (Starz) and the forthcoming Jeannette and Hummingbirds (in production). The pair are currently producing the dark comedy American Dog, starring Jane Lynch. Rivkah is a 2021 Sundance fellow whose credits include Sons of a Gun (SXSW/PBS) and Being George Clooney (Netflix). Jen’s credits include Homeroom (Hulu), Two Spirits (Independent Lens), and Shit & Champagne (Hulu).