About Us

One of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America, the Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) is an international exhibition of cinema that celebrates the diversity of Jewish history, culture and experience through the moving image.

In addition to the annual festival, the WJFF presents an ongoing, year-round film series, in our home venue at the Edlavitch DCJCC. Between the flagship Festival and year-round program, the WJFF annually serves over 18,000 people through 150+ screenings, nearly all of which are regional, US or world premieres. Most screenings are followed by discussions with guest filmmakers and subject matter experts.

The 28th Festival lights up screens throughout the DC metropolitan area from May 2-13, 2018.

WJFF Staff

Ilya-Tovbis-2Ilya Tovbis became the Washington Jewish Film Festival Director in 2012. He has extensive programming experience in both the Jewish and broader film worlds, having previously worked with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, The Picture House, The JCC of NY’s Israel Film Center and the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Prior to coming on as the WJFF Director, Ilya was the Director of Programming at The Picture House, a historic arthouse cinema located in Southern Westchester. The theater annually attracted over 25,000 people to a varied selection of programming with a focus on international, documentary and independent film. Before his tenure with The Picture House, Ilya worked at two of the nation’s most prestigious Jewish film programs — the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and The JCC in Manhattan’s Israel Film Center. The SFJFF is the country’s oldest and largest Jewish Film Festival, while the IFC is the preeminent US body focused on the promotion of Israeli cinema.

Kaitlin Whitman is the WJFF Director of Operations. She brings a wealth of arts administration and film festival experience to WJFF and a passion for sharing the transformative power of film. Prior to joining WJFF, she worked at American University as the Photography Lab Manager where students learned how to process and print their own images in a darkroom. Before that, Kaitlin worked at the DC Environmental Film Festival in programming and a variety of other roles for five years. She regularly volunteers with festivals across the city, attends as many as possible, and consults on film projects. Kaitlin graduated from American University with a MA in Arts Management in 2014 and a BA in Visual Media and Cinema Studies in 2009.

Alexis RodriguezAlexis Rodríguez is the WJFF Outreach and Communications Manager. He has a background in arts marketing and is passionate about bringing organizations closer to their communities. Prior to joining the EDCJCC, he worked on grassroots marketing and public relations strategies at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore. He also helped develop and manage their Brainiacs program, an audience engagement aimed at boosting retention among new subscribers. Alexis graduated from American University with an MA in Arts Management in 2015 and a BA in Marketing from the University of Puerto Rico in 2012.

Carolyn Hoehner is the Program Coordinator. She brings a diverse background in theater production and administration to the WJFF/WJMF. Prior to joining the EDCJCC, Carolyn worked in audience services for Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, NY and annually provided production support for the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC, one of the nation’s largest and most prominent dance festivals. Carolyn believes in the transformative power of excellent storytelling and is passionate about supporting artists and engaging audience members. She holds a B.A from James Madison University in Theater and English Literature.

Natasha Mirny is the Box Office Manager. She has background in theater administration, stage directing and teaching. Prior to joining the EDCJCC Natasha has been a teaching artist at several DC area theaters. She has also been running her own small theater company for the past five years. Natasha believes in healing, uniting and transformative power of film and theater arts.

Ezra M. Leslie is the Production Assistant for the 28th WJFF. He comes to the Festival with an interest in film, particularly social documentary, and some professional experience in production and editing. Prior to joining the WJFF staff, he worked with the Washington-based Ciesla Foundation, whose most recent film, ‘Moe Berg,’ will be premiering a rough-cut at this year’s festival. He graduated from the University of Chicago last year where he majored in anthropology, developing an interest in ethnographic film. He hails from the Himalayan region of South Asia.

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