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Roberta Grossman (born January 7, 1959) is an American filmmaker. Her documentaries range from social justice inquiries to historical subjects with a focus on Jewish history.

Life and careerEdit

Grossman was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a major in History and her MA in Producing from the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies in Los Angeles.[1]

Her first film, with co-director Michelle Paymar, was Sippie (1983), a biography of blues singer-songwriter Sippie Wallace.[2]

She produced and co-wrote Jack Leustig’s 500 Nations, an 8-hour CBS mini-series on the history of Native Americans (1995) . Executive producers were Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner.[3][4][5]

Grossman wrote, produced and directed many historical documentaries for various networks including: In the Footsteps of Jesus for The History Channel; The History of Sex and Rock and Roll for VH1;Special Report: Las Vegas for MSNBC; Christianity: The First 1000 Years; Mysteries of the Bible: Judas; and Heroines of the Hebrew Bible for A&E; and Women on Top, for AMC.

In 1999, Grossman founded Katahdin Productions with Lisa Thomas. Katahdin Foundation, (dba Katahdin Productions), and has co-produced and/or supported documentary films that have earned Academy Award nominations and festival awards.[6]

In 2005, Katahdin released its first feature film, Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action. Grossman directed this documentary about contemporary, Native American, environmental justice struggles. Music from the movie, "Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth" won the 2005 Grammy for Best Native American Album.[7]

In 2008, Katahdin released Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh. The film was produced and directed by Grossman and told the story of Hannah Senesh, a World War II era poet and diarist who parachuted behind enemy lines to rescue her mother and other Hungarian Jews. It won the audience award at 13 Jewish film festivals, was broadcast on PBS, nominated for a Primetime Emmy, and shortlisted for an Academy Award.[8][9]

Grossman and Sophie Sartain’s Hava Nagila: The Movie was released in 2012. The feature-length documentary traced the journey of the song, Hava Nagila, from the Ukraine to YouTube. Released theatrically and screened at 80 Jewish film festivals, Hava Nagila:The Movie was either opening or closing night at more than half of those festivals.[10][11][12][13][14]

Director Dyanna Taylor’s film about her grandmother, the photographer Dorothea Lange, Grab a Hunk of Lightning, aired on PBS's "American Masters" in 2014 and was produced by Grossman.[15][16]

She directed Above and Beyond (2015) for producer Nancy Spielberg. The feature-length documentary told the story of Jewish American World War II era pilots who volunteered to fight for Israel in its 1948 War of Independence, also establishing the Israeli Air Force. Interviews with pilots who flew these missions is one of the highlights of the film.[17][18][19][20]

Grossman most recently produced a documentary about the secret archives of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. The archive, known as Oyneg Shabbos, was assembled and hidden under the leadership of historian Emanuel Ringelblum. The film, called Who Will Write Our History? is based on the book of the same name by historian Samuel Kassow of Trinity College in Connecticut, and published by Indiana University Press in 2007. Grossman optioned the rights to the book and worked with Executive Producer Nancy Spielberg to raise money for the film. It was released in 2018.[21]


  • 1985 Chicago International Film Festival, Nominated Gold Hugo for Best Documentary “Sippie”
  • 2005 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Won, Best Documentary Feature for “Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action”
  • 2006 Fargo Film Festival, Won Best Documentary Feature for “Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action”
  • 2010 Blessed Is the Match wins 12th film festival award. Audience Award, Best Documentary, Festival Internacional de Cine Judio Mexico


Year Film Credited As
1992 Live! From Death Row (TV Movie) Production Manager
2001 From the Waist Down: Men, Women and Music (TV Mini Series) Producer
2005 Fortune Files 2: By the Numbers (TV Documentary) Co-Exec.Producer
2010 Native Century (TV Series) Producer
1983 Sippie (Documentary Short) Producer/Director
1995 500 Nations (TV Mini Series) Co-Writer/Series Producer
2003 In the Footsteps of Jesus / The History Channel(TV Movie Documentary) Producer/Writer
2000 The History of Sex and Rock and Roll/ VH1 (TV Series) Producer/Writer
2000 In Search of History: The Man in the Iron Mask/History Channel (TV Series) Producer/Writer
2000 Escape: True Stories of Suspense (TV Series) Producer
2002 Special Report Las Vegas/ MSNBC (TV Movie Documentary) Producer/Writer
2003 Women on Top/ AMC (TV Movie Documentary) Producer
1999 Medal of Honor (TV Movie) Series Producer
1998 The Rise of Christianity: The First 1000 Years/A&E (TV Movie) Segment Producer/Writer
1998 Mysteries of the Bible: Judas/A&E(TV Series) Writer
1997 Heroines of the Hebrew Bible/A&E(TV Series) Director
2005 Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action (Documentary) Producer/Director
2008 Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh (Documentary) Producer/Director
2012 Hava Nagila: The Movie (Documentary) Producer/Director
2014 Grab a Hunk of Lightning: Dorothea Lange(Documentary) Producer
2015 Above and Beyond(Documentary) Director


  1. ^ Glickman, Elyse. "A Song in Her Heart". Tribe Magazine. Tribe Magazine. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  2. ^ Clear, Rebecca (August 1993). Jazz on Film and Video in the Library of Congress. Diane Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 0788114360. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Roberta Grossman". National Museum of the American Indian. The Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  4. ^ "500 nations. Disc 4". Toronto Public Library. Toronto Public Library. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  5. ^ Spotnitz, Frank. "Kevin Costner's Documentary". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly, Inc. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  6. ^ "About Katahdin Productions". Katahdin Productions. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Homeland". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Movie Review – BLESSED IS THE MATCH: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF HANNAH SENESH". An Alliance of Women Film Journalists blog. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  9. ^ Fox, Joanne. "Tolerance Week Features Documentary Shortlisted for Oscar". Sioux City Journal. Sioux City[IA] Journal. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Hava Nagila Movie". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  11. ^ Merry, Stephanie. ""Hava Nagila: The Movie" Review". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Jewish Film Festival Celebrates its 9th Year in Charlotte". The Charlotte Observer. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  13. ^ Roberts, Sam. "Museum of Jewish Heritage Celebrates 'Hava Nagila'". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  14. ^ Lagnado, Lucette. "At Some Happy Events 'Hava Nagila' Isn't Invited". The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  15. ^ "June 24th, 2014 Dorothea Lange Trailer: Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  17. ^ Jacobson, Judie. "Conversations with Nancy Spielberg & Roberta Grossman". Connecticut Jewish Ledger. Jewish Ledger. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  18. ^ Scheck, Frank. "Above and Beyond: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  19. ^ Kamil, Amos. "The Israeli Air Force and the Americans Who Helped Make It". Newsweek. Newsweek. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  20. ^ King, Susan. "US Flyboys Who Aided Israel in '48 War Heroes of 'Above and Beyond'". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  21. ^ Maltz, Judy. "Revealing Dead Sea Scrolls of the Warsaw Ghetto". Haaretz. Haaretz. Retrieved 9 July 2015.

External linksEdit