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2020 Jury

About The Golden Or/Light Juried Prize

New Award for Best Independent Film

In 2020, for our 25th silver anniversary, SJFF initiated a new juried award and prize, The Golden Or (light in Hebrew) for Best Independent Film. This distinguished jury of film and arts industry professionals, many past Audience Choice and REEL Difference Awardees, seleted one film from this year's lineup that best shine a bright light on independent Jewish and Israeli filmaking.

In addition to selecting a winning film (which includes a $250 cash prize), jurists nominate a local, nonprofit to receive an in-kind community partnership, which includes film sponsorship and free tickets) as a way of build new organizational partnerships, engage their mission efforts, and ensure ease of access to their constituents.

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Aaron Alhadeff | President of Elttaes Enterprises

Aaron Alhadeff is a Seattle native who graduated from Garfield High School and the University of Michigan. He is also a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program. Aaron is involved in many Jewish organizations, including serving as immediate past president of the Stroum Jewish Community Center. He is president of Elttaes Enterprise, a family business and investment company that includes Majestic Bay Theatres in Ballard, and many other family real estate holdings. Aaron served as board president of the Stroum Jewish Community Center from 2012-2014, and as an Arts+Ideas advisor. He and his wife Emily have two boys.

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Lisa Cohen | Filmmaker

Lisa is a short documentary filmmaker specializing in social-issue films for adolescents and teens.  She has over 20 years of production and post-production experience on everything from Hollywood films to local industrials.  Lisa’s directorial debut, B-BOY, won the 2012 SJFF Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film.  She is currently working on a learning guide for her 2017 film, Confessions of a Social Bully, which has screened in festivals worldwide and is being used as a middle-school teaching tool in Seattle Public Schools.

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Warren Etheredge | Director, Walla Walla Movie Crush

Warren Etheredge has worked on the film festival circuit for 20 years. He got his start at the Seattle International Film Festival, then went on to serve as the Curator & Director of the 1 Reel Film Festival (at Bumbershoot) for six years. Currently, he is the Director of Walla Walla Movie Crush Festival and has staged/hosted events at Sundance, SXSW, Port Townsend, Bend and other well-known festivals. He has interviewed many guests at SJFF andthe  Arts + Ideas stage including, Michael Solomonov, Nigella Lawson and most recently Yotam Ottolenghi. IMDB


Aviva Kempner | Filmmaker

Aviva Kempner is an award winning American filmmaker known previously for ROSENWALD (SJFF 2016), TODAY I VOTE FOR MY JOEY (2002), YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG (2009), and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG (SJFF 2000). Kempner is the founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. Her many accomplishments include: membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; a 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship; 2000 DC Mayor’s Art Award; 2001 Women of Vision award from D.C.’s Women in Film and Video chapter; 2001 Media Arts award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture; 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award; and in 2016 was awarded the Seattle Jewish Film Festival’s REEL Difference Award. IMDB

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Leah Warshawski | Filmmaker

Leah Warshawski is Producer/Director and with husband Todd Soliday the Seattle-based couple specializes in documentary storytelling in remote parts of the world for commercials, features, branded entertainment and reality shows.  Their film, FINDING HILLYWOOD (2013) premiered at SIFF in 2013. Their film BIG SONIA won the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at the 2017 Seattle Jewish Film Festival. IMDB