Francis Benhamou


Stefan Schaefer- Writer, Co-Director/Producer
Stefan Schaefer was born in Boston, spent his childhood in Sussex, England and his adolescent years in Detroit and New York. He graduated from Wesleyan University with degrees in political theory and theater. Following a year and a half in Germany - where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar and worked as a journalist - he returned to New York and founded Cicala Filmworks with Diane Crespo.

Over the past ten years he has written, directed and produced feature films, documentaries, music videos and TV commercials. CONFESS, his debut narrative feature, premiered at the 2005 Hamptons Int'l Film Festival, where Stefan won the Best Screenwriter award. The political thriller – starring Eugene Byrd, Ali Larter, Melissa Leo, William Sadler and Glenn Fitzgerald – has a foreign distribution deal with New Films International and a North American deal with MTI Home Video.

In 2006 he directed and produced the one-hour television documentary CONTESTED STREETS, which looks at what New York can learn from London, Paris and Copenhagen in terms of organizing its streets and public spaces. The film will be broadcast on the Sundance Channel in May 2008.

In April-May 2007 he was on location in Iceland, where THE HIGHER FORCE, a feature he co-wrote, co-produced and acted in, was helmed by Olaf Johannesson. The film stars, among others, Michael Imperioli from the SOPRANOS.

Other narrative films in the works include:
WINNIE (working title) - a late-in-life empowerment story, with Shirley MacLaine attached to star. The film will be produced by Washington Square Films and Bumbershoot Productions, with Stefan attached to direct.

FORTH AND MULTIPLY (working title) - a family drama/comedy he will co-direct and produce with Diane Crespo. They plan to shoot the film in early 2008.

Awards include:
Best Film at the Berkshire Int'l Film Festival and Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival (2007), Best Screenwriter at the Hamptons Film Festival (2005), Grand Prize in Digital Filmmaking from Panasonic and Apple (2004), the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Screenwriting (2003), and selection to attend the Talent Campus at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Diane Crespo- Co-Director/Producer
Diane was born and raised in Queens. Drawn to the dramatic arts at a young age, she received a B.A. in theatre from Roger Williams College, and studied at the graduate level at the London School of Dramatic Arts.

Following a brief stint in L.A., where she worked at Canon and New World Pictures, she returned to New York to work in theatre. She met Stefan working off-off Broadway, where she directed a series of one-act plays he had written. They went on to form the production company Cicala Filmworks, where their initial focus was creating short documentaries for clients such as the Guggenheim Museum, the NYC Department of Education, and Roundabout Theatre. As the company grew, she also produced and directed numerous music videos and commercials for clients such as Ben Folds Five, 1-800 Flowers, Virgin Records and 97.9 La Mega.

Documentary credits include: CONTESTED STREETS, TAKING A RISK IN EDUCATION, a two-part film on educational reform; and RISE TO THE CHALLENGE, a three-part documentary on successful parenting created for the College Board.

Other films in development include:
FORTH AND MULTIPLY (working title) - a family drama/comedy she will co-direct and produce with Stefan Schaefer. They plan to shoot the film in early 2008.

Drawing on her own biography, Diane is developing a coming-of-age story about a Puerto Rican kid who discovers her sexuality – and the fact that she is lesbian – while watching a 4th of July parade.

ARRANGED is her narrative feature film debut as a director/producer.

Awards include:
Awards include: Best Feature and Grand Prize for Best Film at Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival (ARRANGED, 2007); "Best of Fest" Audience Award at Berkshire Int'l Film Festival (ARRANGED, 2007).

Yuta Silverman- Executive Producer, Writer (Story)
Yuta grew up and still lives in the Orthodox Jewish community of Borough Park, Brooklyn. She works as a special ed instructor in the NY city public schools. Her experiences in the schools - where she befriended the Muslim mother of one of the children she was assigned - lies at the heart of the film ARRANGED. Yuta recently shot another film that will screen during Passover in Borough Park.

Dan Hersey- Cinematographer
Dan has worked as a cinematographer and assistant cameraman for over fifteen years. He has assisted on such notable films as WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, THE NOTORIOUS BETTY PAGE, and THE SAVAGES. For years he has worked with Cicala Filmworks, shooting the documentary CONTESTED STREETS and short-form content for clients such as March of Dimes, The Munipal Arts Society and Prep for Prep. ARRANGED is his first narrative feature film collaboration with Stefan and Diane.

Erin Greenwell- Editor
Erin graduated with honors from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dramatic Writing. Erin went on to become an in-house producer/director of PSAs and community/cultural profiles for the largest public access center in the nation, Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Ms. Greenwell's producing/editing work includes Lead Dog Marketing, Unicef and the award winning PBS magazine format show, "In the Life." Erin recently served as an additional editor on "Cruel and Unusual," an unflinching documentary on the lives of transgender women in men's prisons. visit

Sohrab Habibion- Composer
After cutting his teeth in high school punk bands, Sohrab started singing and playing guitar in Edsel, a D.C. indie rock outfit that released 4 critically acclaimed albums and numerous singles. He moved to New York in 1997, acquired a handful of computer and studio skills, and focused on various audio projects between graphic design gigs. Sohrab has written, recorded, edited and mixed music, sound effects and dialog for cartoons, games, Web sites and other assorted interactive media. He has worked with the well-regarded French singer Alain Bashung, Brazilian-American guitarist Arto Lindsay, the NYC-based post-punk band Girls Against Boys, SoHo design company Funny Garbage and even with Debbie Harry on the score by experimental New York choreographer, dancer and director Richard Move for Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project. Sohrab and Michael also scored Contested Streets for Cicala Filmworks and recently completed the music for To Have Not, And To Hold, a documentary for PBS' Frontline series. visit The Treasury Dept.

Michael Hampton- Composer
Michael began his career in the early 80's Washington D.C. hardcore punk scene, playing guitar and writing music for, among others, S.O.A (with Henry Rollins) and One Last Wish (with members of Fugazi), releasing several records on the seminal Dischord label. Later he was the songwriter/guitarist for Manifesto, whose sole LP made them press darlings in England, where they were lauded by both the NME and Melody Maker. Since then Michael has scored Activision's "Minority Report" video game and an impressive 66 documentaries for the Discovery Channel, including 17 episodes of the award-winning "Wings" series and, more recently, "The Chain." He just completed music for "Brilliant Simplicity," his second documentary collaboration with Metropolis magazine. Michael's music has been used by 20th Century Fox, TLC, Lifetime, Paramount, HBO, the WB, NBC, Nick Jr and MTV. He and Sohrab also scored Contested Streets for Cicala Filmworks and recently completed the music for To Have Not, And To Hold, a documentary for PBS' Frontline series. visit



Zoe Lister-Jones
A native of Brooklyn, Zoe graduated with honors from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied at the Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School. She wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed one-woman show "Codependence is a Four Letter Word," which premiered at NY's P.S. 122. She has had guest starring roles on shows such as LAW & ORDER and appears in the forthcoming films TURN THE RIVER, DAY ZERO, and the MARCONI BROTHERS.

Francis Benhamou
A graduate of NYU, and the Maggie Flanigan Studio, Francis appears in the forthcoming film NEAL CASSIDY and has appeared on TV shows such as THE BRONX IS BURNING. Of Moroccan descent, Francis grew up in Miami.

John Rothman
A veteran of film, TV and theatre, John has recently appeared in films such as THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, UNITED 93, and PRIME.

Laith Nakli
Born to Syrian parents, Laith grew up in England and Damascus. He studied acting at the William Esper Studio and is a member of the Arab American Comedy Festival troop. TV credits include: THIRD WATCH, LAW AND ORDER CI, SOPRANOS, RESCUE ME and TRAVELER. Film credits include: SLIPPERY SLOPE, SADIQ, and PIECE OF AMERICA. He will participate this year at the Sundance Directors Lab, working with director Braden King.

Mimi Lieber
A veteran of film, TV and theatre, Mimi has had roles in films such as BULWORTH and THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS, as well as recurring roles on LAW AND ORDER. She was in the original cast of GREASE on Broadway.

Marcia Jean Kurtz
Marcia Jean had memorable roles in such influential films as DOG DAY AFTERNOON, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and INSIDE MAN.

Daniel London
Daniel starred in the critically acclaimed OLD JOY. He has also played leading roles in films such as PATCH ADAMS and MINORITY REPORT.

Alysia Reiner
Recent film: SCHOOLED, ONE LAST THING, THE NARROW GATE and she won a SAG award (Outstanding Performance Ensemble Cast) playing Christine in the Oscar-winning film SIDEWAYS. TV include: THE SOPRANOS, LOVE MONKEY, THE JURY, LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER: SVU, LAW & ORDER: CI, THE DREW CAREY SHOW, THE PRACTICE, FAMILY LAW, JACK & JILL, and Series Lead in the Pilot AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK for Columbia TriStar. Recent Off-Broadway: AN OAK TREE, JAYSON WITH A Y (The New Group), ANAIS NIN: One of her Lives & WASPS IN BED - both at The Beckett & Drama desk nominated New York premiere of PENTECOST.