April 12, 2024
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‘Jews on Film’ Highlights Jewish Filmmaking Talent

Ever since Harry Ottensoser and Daniel Zana were young, they have had a passion for films and how they are made. Together they have launched “Jews on Film,” a podcast highlighting Jewish behind-the-scenes talent. They have had a number of prominent guests on their show, including filmmakers and critics. The episodes are used to deep-dive into films new and old, and explore the Jewish influences that may have impacted them.

Ottensoser and Zana met a few years back at Mercaz, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Seattle. They connected over their shared love of film and became fast friends. Ottensoser was onboard when Zana proposed the idea of turning their interest into a podcast highlighting Jewish filmmaking, and so in March of 2022 they officially launched “Jews on Film.”

“I’m a video editor and documentary filmmaker,” Zana shared with The Jewish Link. “And as someone who has dabbled in the industry, I always felt like there was this separation between my Jewish life and my professional film life. This project presented the opportunity to fuse the two into a fun, engaging project.”

“We have some great conversations,” Ottensoser echoed. “Daniel is a great person with a wide range of film knowledge like me. He’s a great co-host, and it’s a joy to get to talk with our guests. For one episode we spoke to a producer of ‘The Vigil,’ and hearing the way he spoke about embedding his movies with Jewish deep cuts is really just fascinating.”

Since its inception, the podcast has released over 40 episodes and seen significant growth in viewership throughout. Some of the guests include journalist and “Unorthodox” podcast host Mark Oppenheimer, journalist and “The Bagel Report” podcast co-host Esther Kustanowitz and British director Oliver Park. The episodes usually run for about an hour and a half, and are chock-full of film discussion and behind-the-scenes secrets.

“Whenever we have a guest on the podcast, we like to talk about their experiences and history with movies,” Ottensoser said. “We also talk a lot about how Judaism has served as an influence on films, and you’d be surprised by some of the things we’ve learned. There are all kinds of films out there that have a lot of Jewish subtext.”

All the podcast episodes are recorded over Zoom, but that doesn’t stop Ottensoser and Zana from bouncing off each other with their eager and passionate love of film.

“No matter who you talk to, everybody has a story to tell,” Zana continued. “We’ve had all kinds of guests on our show, and it’s fun to ask them questions and hear about their favorite movies. Our guests have been very open and eager to share their history about how they got into making or reviewing films, and we’ve had some great conversations that are still just waiting to be published.”

When it comes to the future of the podcast, Ottensoser and Zana report that they are looking to do more episodes, partner with film festivals, and maybe even host in-person events. For now, though, they are focused on building their audience and bringing more attention to Jewish filmmaking talent.

“We’re really excited for what the coming months hold,” Zana went on to say. “Hopefully we’ll see more growth and have even more incredible guests joining us. Because at the end of the day, that’s all we are: just two guys who love movies and love to talk about them. The fact that we get to do this and so many are tuning in is the most incredible thing. As long as people keep listening, we’ll keep making episodes.”

“Jews on Film” is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else that podcasts can be found. If you have any questions, you can send Ottensoser and Zana an email at [email protected]. For all other links, visit www.linktr.ee/jewsonfilm.


Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.

 

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