Meet the Following Fania team
Lisa Kenner Grissom
Originally from Boston with a bi-coastal sensibility, Lisa Kenner Grissom is an award-winning LA-based screenwriter, playwright, and producer whose work explores dynamic social issues through intimate relationships, often through the lens of strong, complex women. She wrote/produced the multiple award-winning short film TATTOO YOU (dir. S.R. Bindler), which has been screened at film festivals across the country and internationally.
In 2019, Lisa met Fania Brantsovsky in Vilnius as a Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellow. Captivated and inspired by her story of resistance, Lisa created the historical fiction TV pilot, FANIA IN THE FOREST, a Top 10 Finalist for the 2022 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship.
In March 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lisa created/produced/directed HISTORY IS NOW, a 5-part short documentary series shot entirely on iPhones in West Hollywood. This project captured the diverse stories of five unsung heroes working to survive during an unprecedented time.
In addition, Lisa has worked for over a decade in the arts and culture space producing events, programs, and projects—both live and virtual—for the innovative nonprofit organizations Reboot and Yiddishkayt. lisakennergrissom.com
Christa P. Whitney
Christa P. Whitney is an oral historian, photographer, and documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on language, culture, and identity. Originally from California with Samogitian roots on her maternal side, Christa holds a BA from Smith College in Comparative Literature and Dance, and is currently pursuing an MBA at the Isenberg School of Management.
She has spent the past dozen years traveling near and far in search of Yiddish stories as the director of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, a growing collection of more than 1,000 in-depth video interviews about Yiddish language and culture.
Christa met Fania Brantsovsky as a student at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute’s summer program, and recorded an oral history with her in 2012. She has conducted additional fieldwork with Yiddish speakers in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Šiauliai, Lithuania.
As part of her work at the Yiddish Book Center, she has co-directed and produced a number of documentary films, including her award-winning first feature-length documentary, Ver Vet Blaybn? (Who Will Remain?), which follows one woman’s journey to understand her grandfather, the Yiddish writer Avrom Sutzkever. Christa was named on the 2020 Forward 50 list of “people we needed in a year we definitely didn’t.”
Director of Photography
Emily is a documentary film editor whose work has been screened in museums, libraries, and schools across the country. She studied anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she became invested in archaeology, visual ethnography, and nonfiction storytelling.
She worked as the premiere technical assistant for the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, and as an assistant editor at Florentine Films/Hott Productions on feature-length documentaries broadcast on PBS.
She is now an editor and videographer based in Los Angeles, where she continues to make films. twitter.com/SubatomicEmily
Clare Fester is the Program Director of Yiddishkayt and has coordinated its signature Eastern European travel immersion program, the Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellowship, since 2016. An Annenberg Helix Fellow herself in 2013, she now oversees the annual program from start to finish, including recruitment, curriculum and itinerary development, international network cultivation, and program logistics. In addition, she co-manages the David Shneer New Yiddish Culture Grant to foster new creative work inspired by the Fellowship.
Clare studied at both Sydney and Monash Universities, and holds her MIS from Charles Sturt University, where she specialized in information access for marginalized communities in the United States.
Clare also works with strike solidarity committees and activist coalitions that welcome migrants and refugees. Her writing has appeared in Marx21 (US), Solidarity Magazine, (Australia), Socialist Worker (US), Socialist Worker (Britain), the International Socialism Journal, and Left East.