Meet AJFF: Former AJFF Filmmaker and 2018 Jury Member, Deborah Riley Draper


pictured above: Dr. Matthew Bernstein with Deborah Riley Draper at the 2017 AJFF Insider Preview Party

We're incredibly proud that AJFF attracts some of the most talented, passionate people. We rely heavily on this village to make AJFF what it is, and we're going to introduce you to some of the people who make up that village. From our staff, to our volunteers, or even to members of our audience, there's a huge group of people that make AJFF a world-class cultural event. This month, we're putting the spotlight on a former AJFF filmmaker (Olympic Pride, American Prejudice) and participant of the 2018 AJFF Jury, Deborah Riley Draper.

A Little Bit About Deborah

Deborah Riley Draper is a compelling and award-winning filmmaker and advertising agency executive. Draper is 2016 Film Independent Lab Fellow and Variety Magazine’s “2016 Top 10 Documakers to Watch”. Her documentary, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, is a 2017 NAACP Image Awards Nominee for Outstanding Documentary Film.

How did you come to be involved with AJFF? 

I received an invitation from Kenny Blank to submit Olympic Pride, American Prejudice to the 17th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

What would you encourage filmmakers to know before they submit their film for the 2019 AJFF? 

This is an incredible festival that is committed to exploring the Jewish experience in film in the most inclusive and community-focused way. Filmmakers are invited to play a role in the festival and with the audience. It's very personal and participatory.

What is your fondest memory from being involved with AJFF?

My screening and post-screening Q&A is my fondest memory. I watched the film with an engaged audience, and I was able hear and feel their emotions.  My Q&A was amazing filled with great questions and personal stories. There is no better experience than interacting with your audience in such a dynamic and emotional way.

Pictured: AJFF's word cloud of the Film Evaluation Committee's feedback for Olympic Price, American Prejudice.

What’s next for you as a filmmaker? 

I am in the development process of a feature film produced by Tate Taylor and John Norris.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with AJFF? 

The AJFF involvement is not limited to just your screening. You have the opportunity to establish a long-standing relationship and participate in different ways. I love being a part of the AJFF family and extending my interest in film in this way.

What's your favorite AJFF film, and why? 

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me. I love Sam Pollard; his work has impacted me as a filmmaker and as a person interested in the intersection of culture and politics. Plus, I downloaded Candy Man on my Spotify after watching the film.

Thank you to Deborah for her time this month and continued participation with AJFF. Don't wait to submit your film for the 2019 AJFF. Find out all you need to know here. Stay tuned to see who we profile next.