people involved

Fran TarrFran Tarr


It’s my hope breaking the surface will have you putting aside your assumptions, misconceptions and prejudgments to see teenagers as the bright, articulate thoughtful, complicated and vulnerable, young men and women they are–and no matter how near or far their experiences are from your own–these young men and women represent our best hope for a future built of peace, justice and equality.

I am a dedicated artist who appreciates the teamwork it takes to succeed in today’s filmmaking world. My ability to successfully accept new challenges has enhanced and expanded my writing, teaching career, my experiences in New York City and my personal vision.

When I met Salomea Kape, I was mesmerized by her reminiscences of coming-of-age in the Lodz-Ghetto. She said to me, “Remember, everyone thinks we are fossils; we were children when this happened,” and I realized that the story of children in the Lodz-Ghetto speaks to the idea that the Holocaust is not “old” news, but a kernel of contemporary life in Kosovo, Jenin, Baghdad, Monrovia, Jerusalem and NYC. It exposes the truth that horrific incidents happen to people just going about their everyday lives. I believe this is a message the world needs to hear–a message I hope you will help me deliver. More

As a screenwriter my history is brief, but solid. I have written several screenplays including: Together, Girl-to-Girl, Decent Girl and Rescue Me. I have been selected as a Finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab (Together), Finalist for the Roy W. Dean Film & Video Grant (Decent Girl, bethlehem to brooklyn: breaking the surface), Semi-Finalist for The Chesterfield Writer’s Fellowship (Rescue Me), Quarter-Finalist for the Heart of Austin Screenwriting Competition (Rescue Me), and a Certificate of Merit Opus Magnum Discovery Awards for my novel, Run, Zina, Run. Currently, I am working on a documentary, bethlehem to brooklyn: breaking the surface, which exposes the heart-wrenching resilience of Black and Hispanic teens in NYC and Muslim teens from Bethlehem, and a TV series, Welcome to Katrinaland about an extraordinary black woman police officer and Iraqi Vet who is on a mission to do what FEMA and the federal government have not done–reclaim the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Also, I am a proud member of New York Women in Film & TV.

In New York, when not writing and re-writing, I am the Education Coordinator of the prestigious off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company working with their Atlantic for Kids and Students & Educators at the Atlantic programs. I was the Education Director and Resident Teaching-Artist for The Women’s Project’s Arts-in-Education Program, Ten Centuries of Women Playwrights, teaching playmaking to students in the New York public schools for the past fourteen years. During 2006 and 2007, I taught playmaking to Palestinian and Israeli teens in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In August of 2007, I traveled to Liberia where I taught playmaking at the Rachel E. Fay High School in Gbargna City. This summer of 2008, I will continue my work with all three groups of students.

I earned BFA and MA degrees in Two Dimensional Visual Arts with an emphasis in Drawing. On Chicago’s South Side, I taught elementary school art. In Colorado, I taught Photography, Drawing, Theater Arts and Creative Writing. Twice, the Colorado Department of Education awarded Arts and Prevention Grants to me for my work using theater to promote positive refusal skills. From the first day I stepped into a classroom, I have been awed and inspired by each of the young men and women I meet within a classroom’s four walls. Whether it’s Chicago’s South Side, the suburbs of Denver, the five boroughs of New York, Bethlehem, Jerusalem or Gbragna City in Liberia, I always discover bright, articulate and resilient young men and women, courageously facing the challenges of coming-of-age in a changing world.

CarlaCarla Ruff


Carla Ruff is a filmmaker and award-winning documentary editor, and the director, editor, and motion-graphics designer of numerous corporate films and video installations. She has a degree in film and television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a 2009 fellow in film from New York Foundation for the Arts. Vist Carla online at

Leese KatsnelsonLeese Katsnelson


Leese Katsnelson was born in Russia and moved to New York when she was 7. She has a degree in Business from the University of Vermont and has studied post production & editing at FIT and SVA. She is presently an assistant Editor for a commercial post production company, Crew Cuts Film & Tape in Manhattan.

jeremygoldsteinJeremy Goldstein


Jeremy Goldstein (EVAC / Quadrant 5 Studios) has worked as a professional musician, composer, & sound designer for over a decade. This work has led to the production of a wide-spectrum of music & sound for both major and independent record labels, audio/software companies, multimedia projects, as well as extensive TV and commercial work. This vast range of styles and projects has served as a continual source of inspiration and, as a result, garnered Quadrant 5 Studios with 2 Omni Awards, and a 2009 Cannes Silver Lion for it’s musical contribution to the Adidas ‘Brotherhood’ Campaign. Additional clients have included Motorola, GM, Sony, Time Warner, The Universal Music Group, and several others.

rebeccahochmanmasbackRebecca Hochman Masback

assistant to director/producer

Rebecca is an educator, artist, and a born and raised New Yorker. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is presently a literacy coach for middle school students in Brooklyn. She is also the Project Manager for Speak Reach Peace Out!: An Online Magazine which serves as the outreach for brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back.