Vivienne is available for speaking engagements about the following subjects:
It is both a turbulent and exciting journey for writers, publishers, booksellers, readers — all has changed. Librarians and teachers are redefining their roles. Storytellers like the late Ray Bradbury, in perhaps his last interview, complemented by evocative visuals, weave a compelling tale. Authors Guild President Scott Turow and Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon as an online bookstore, place us in the middle of their debate. People tell us they read snippets all day long, and one of four Americans no longer reads even a single book, in any format, in an entire year. This is a major disruption compared to previous technological innovations. Personal stories of parents and students take us into their worlds, highlighting how this revolution is changing us.
This issues raised in Out of Print just won’t go away. The documentary stimulates animated discussion among viewers of all age groups, bridging any generational differences, and Vivienne has led discussions and participated in panels and Q&As in venues ranging from community centers and college campuses to the venerable Strand Bookstore.
The Last Jews of Libya documents the final decades of a centuries-old North African Sephardic Jewish community through the lives of the remarkable Roumani family, residents of Benghazi, Libya, for hundreds of years. Thirty-six thousand Jews survived the hardships of living under fascist rule and internment while the desert battles of World War II were being fought in North Africa, while none remain today. Based on the recently discovered memoirs of the family’s matriarch, Elise Roumani, as well as interviews in English, Hebrew, Italian, and Arabic with several generations of the Roumani family and a trove of rare archival film and photographs, it is an unforgettable tale of tradition, adaptation, war, and survival.
Vivienne frequently follows screenings of the Last Jews of Libya with discussions about 20th Century Jewish life in Libya, which came to a close in 1967, and the subsequent lives of the Jewish refugees in Italy, Israel, and elsewhere, based on her interviews for the documentary and her extensive collection of oral histories. She has maintained contacts with western diplomats and Arab Libyans, both current residents and emigrés, enabling her to connect the past with the present. For those who prefer a different format, Vivienne also gives talks on the subject that use clips from the film and oral history excerpts as part of the audio-visual supporting material.
Jewish communities formed throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean following the destruction of the Second Temple. Sephardi Jews are literally those whose ancestors lived in Spain and Portugal prior to the expulsion in the 15th Century. The term is generally used more broadly, however, to include Jews whose origins are in North Africa and the Middle East (“Mizrachi”), because Iberian and Mizrachi Jews share liturgy and traditions that are very similar to one another and differ from those of Ashkenizi Jews with origins in Middle and Eastern Europe. As Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, Vivienne created the Sephardic library and archives and the Sephardic exhibition gallery at the Center for Jewish History in New York, where she personally curated the opening gallery exhibition of books, etchings, paintings, and artifacts. She has collaborated with musician Gerard Edery to create multi-media programs of music, dance, and digital visuals celebrating the Sephardic experience. Her oral histories are in the Library of Congress and the National Library of Israel, and her website on Jews of Libya explores all aspects of their culture. Vivienne has written and lectured widely on various aspects of Sephardic culture, historical and modern, including radio and TV appearances.
Vivienne is a self-taught documentary filmmaker whose work has twice premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Isabella Rossellini and Meryl Streep narrated the documentaries, and Vivienne has had the opportunity to film interviews with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury, and many others from a large variety of professions and backgrounds. While documentaries are her passion, she also produced the short Thanks and provided translation for Dîner en Blanc. Student filmmakers and general filmgoers have enjoyed discussing her experiences as a filmmaker, especially the issues involved in conceiving the project and identifying and accessing the people who make a documentary project successful.