Aviva Kempner has a mission in life: Her films and writing investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and focuses and celebrates the under known stories of Jewish heroes.
Ms. Kempner was the script writer, director and producer of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, a film about the Jewish slugger who fought anti-Semitism in the 1930’s and 40’s. It was awarded top honors by the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. The film received a George Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy. Kempner was the recipient of the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's Freedom of Expression Award for her significant contribution to creating positive images of Jewish heroes in film and her work as a Jewish film curator.
Ms. Kempner also produced and co-wrote Partisans of Vilna, a documentary on Jewish resistance against the Nazis. The film was theatrically distributed, won a CINE Golden Eagle as well as First Prize at Anthropos, and was shown at the Berlin, Haifa, London, Toronto, and Troia Film Festivals. Partisans of Vilna aired on PBS's "P.O.V" as well as on European and Israeli television. She was the executive producer of the 1989 Grammy-award nominated record, Partisans of Vilna: The Songs of World War II Jewish Resistance which was nominated for a 1991 Grammy Award.
And now from Aviva Kempner comes Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg, a humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg. Berg was the creator, principal writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry. Included in the film are interviews with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner, producers Norman Lear (All in the Family) and Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties), and NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg. There are grants for the film from The National Endowment of the Arts, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Meyer and the Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.
Kempner is a recipient of the 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship for filmmaking. She also consulted on a documentary on Shimon Peres, and wrote narration for Promises to Keep, the Academy Award-nominated documentary on the homeless.
Her many accomplishments include: recipient of the 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2000 DC Mayor’s Art Award: 2001 Women of Vision award from D.C.’s Women in Film and Video chapter and the 2001 Media Arts award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.
She writes film criticism and feature articles for numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, The Forward, Washington Jewish Week and The Washington Post. She also lectures about cinema throughout the country.
Kempner was born on December 23, 1946 in Berlin. In 1950, her family moved to Detroit, where she grew up hearing about Hank Greenberg’s exploits from her Lithuanian-born father, who was an American soldier in World War II. Her mother, born in Poland, was a Holocaust survivor. Ms. Kempner lives in Washington, DC where she plays a prominent role in the artist and film community. She is also an activist for voting rights for the District of Columbia.