Steven and his son, Jared
In 2005, Jared Branfman died of brain cancer at the age of 23. A week after his death, his father, Steven Branfman, a potter and teacher, went into his studio, took some clay and made a chawan, a Japanese style tea bowl. Each day for one year, he made one chawan - they were the only pots he made. Steven’s daily chawan made at his wheel was his own personal kaddish, (the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning).
For 9 years, these 365 bowls sat unfinished on shelves in his studio. One day, in the 9th year, he decided to glaze and fire these bowls, bringing them to life with color and sheen.
A Father’s Kaddish is the personal story of a man who created an art form to honor his son and his son’s memory. This powerful film shows traditional and non-traditional ways for people to grieve. From one man’s poignant story at the intersection of love, art, and ritual offers a universal lesson for all who have experienced loss.
The exhibition of the fired chawan was the impetus for this documentary. To view the online presentation of the 2015
A Father's Kaddish exhibition, click here.
MEET THE SUBJECT
Steven Branfman received his MAT from Rhode Island School Of Design in 1975 and enjoys an international reputation as a clay artist. In 1977 he founded The Potters Shop & School in Needham MA as his studio, pottery school, and gallery. He has been teaching pottery at Thayer Academy in Braintree, MA for 45 years. His Raku ware is in the collections of several museums including the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred International Ceramic Art Museum and Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design. He is the author of five books on pottery. Steven is a popular workshop presenter, giving guest demonstrations and lectures of his pottery forming, glazing, and firing techniques all over the world.
MEET THE TEAM
Jen Kaplan’s first love was always the magic of stories – listening to them, learning from them and telling them in a visual way through film, since 2000. Her first film “Mixed Blessings: The Challenges of Raising Children in a Jewish-Christian Family” was shown in film festivals across the globe and aired on several PBS stations. She worked as a Fundraising Producer at Connecticut Public Television and served as the Associate Director of Filmmakers Collaborative in Boston. She recently finished a 3 year term as a member of the Newton Cultural Council. Since 2011, she has focused her efforts on producing 5-7 minute films for a variety of clients. A Father’s Kaddish is her most recent film from her company Spencer Films.
Rachel Clark is a Boston-based documentary video editor. Over the past twenty years of editing, her clients have included History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the BBC, Errol Morris, PBS, the National Geographic Channel, and Cinemax. Her work has received multiple Emmy-nominations including the Emmy award winning HBO documentary Have You Seen Andy?; and the documentary Family Affair (OWN), which premiered at Sundance. Most Recently, a feature length documentary she co-edited, Eat Up, won the “2019 Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing” at Independent Film Festival of Boston.
Nikki Bramley is a cinematographer based in Boston. Her work ranges from independent documentaries to high-end commercial projects. Previous camera credits include: Frontline, Runaway Chef: Thailand, Give Me the Banjo (PBS), and various Discovery ID programs, as well as additional camera work for NOVA: The Great Math Mystery, and Finding Your Roots. She was an associate producer on A Life Among Whales (PBS, Discovery), and edited the short documentary Only One Boss (festivals).