Michael Rossato-Bennett, Director/Producer
Rossato-Bennett studied film at Temple University and studied lighting with family friend Vilmos Zigmond. In 1982 he shot Street Dance a one-hour documentary on the emerging Break-Dance and Tick-tism scene in Cincinnati, Ohio funded by the Ohio Arts Council. In 1984 he co-wrote and directed Victory House, a low-budget award-winning feature that follows the fates of three young men returning to small-town Ohio after WWll. In 1989, he gave up working in film and founded a photo studio in Cincinnati. He specialized in travel photography and shot for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Islands Magazine, Travel and Leisure, British Heritage among others. During this time he published two books, Cincinnati, A Pictorial History, and Mammoth Cave, a Pictorial History. In 1996 he came to New York where he helped his younger brother start Eyeball and worked as an editor in NYC. In 2009 he returned to documentary film work by starting Ximotion Media a company dedicated to producing films for non-profits and good causes. In 2009 he made short documentaries for The Mozart Academy, The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center and Music & Memory. At present, his company has 5 documentaries in various stages of production besides Alive Inside. Tradition Transformed follows 6 Contemporary Tibetan Artists, artists from a culture that has no word for art and no tradition of non-religious art. Practically Enlightened, a comic look at one man’s yearlong quest to become enlightened. Prison Dance, follows the changes in a dozen inmates in a maximum-security prison who are being taught modern dance. The Dancing One documents the life of dancer / choreographer Fanchon Shur.
Itaal Shur, Composer
Itaal Shur is best known for co-writing the massive Santana hit “Smooth” with Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas (which also earned him a Grammy Award for Song of the Year), Shur was a founding member of the group Groove Collective, appearing on the group’s first two albums, 1993’s self-titled debut and 1996’s We the People, and co-penning the song “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” with Maxwell for the his hit debut, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. Shur issued his first solo albums under the alias Big Muff (named after a classic Electroharmonix guitar distortion pedal) — 1998’s Music From the Aural Exciter and 2000’s Aurally Exciting Remixes — a combination of funk, techno, and hip-hop which spawned the modest U.K. hit “My Funny Valentine.” Shur issued the first recording under his real name in 2001, Milk & Honey: 10 Hits to Bliss. In addition to writing and recording music, Shur has created his own artist development/production company, producing music for broadcasting and computer animation.
Limore Shur, EyeballNYC, Motion Graphics
Limore Shur is the quiet force behind the award-winning EyeballNYC. At 40, Shur is an elder statesman in the motion graphics field and EyeballNYC is one of the most respected Broadcast Design firms in the world. As one of its pioneers, Shur embraced the industry in its embryonic stages, recognizing an ideal platform for exploring his creative potential. He is looking forward to heading up the Motion Graphics for Alive Inside.
Dr. Oliver Sacks, Music and the Mind Expert
Sacks is perhaps best known for his collections of case histories from the far borderlands of neurological experience such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars. In 1966 Dr. Sacks began working as a consulting neurologist for Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, a chronic care hospital where he encountered an extraordinary group of patients, many of whom had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues, unable to initiate movement. He recognized these patients as survivors of the great pandemic of sleepy sickness that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-dopa, which enabled them to come back to life. They became the subjects of his book Awakenings, which later inspired the Oscar-nominated feature film (“Awakenings”) with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. Sacks’s work, which has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, regularly appears in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, as well as various medical journals. The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and in 2002 he was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He is an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.
Dr. Bill Thomas, Gerontologist
Bill is a visionary leader in the online Changing Aging movement and a world-renowned authority on geriatric medicine and eldercare. Bill is founder of two movements to reshape long-term care globally – The Eden Alternative and Green House Project. Bill’s Eden Alternative philosophy put forward a radical critique of long-term care and offered a creative way to “change the culture” of nursing homes by bringing growth and laughter into the lives of elders. Now a global non-profit, the Eden Alternative has affiliates in Japan, Australia, Scandinavia, Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom and all 50 states. A self-described “nursing-home abolitionist”, Bill recognized that America’s nursing home buildings are “aging faster than the people living inside them.” Recipient of numerous awards, including the Ashoka Fellowship, America’s Award, Heinz Award and Giraffe Award, Bill is also a professor at UMBC’s Erickson School of Aging, a musician, author of six books and an insatiable social media consumer and blogger.
Dr. Connie Tomaino, IMNF
A pioneer in the field of music therapy, Dr. Concetta Tomaino is both the Executive Director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) and the Senior Vice President for Music Therapy at CenterLight Health System, (formerly Beth Abraham Family of Health Services). Internationally known for her research in the clinical applications of music and neurologic rehabilitation, Dr. Tomaino has lectured on music therapy throughout the United States and in Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Italy, England, and Canada. A past president of the American Association for Music Therapy, Dr. Tomaino was honored at the United Nations with the Music Therapists for Peace Award of Accomplishment. Committed to fostering the broadest access to music therapies for people in need the world over, Dr. Tomaino’s work with the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function has advanced the state of the art and science of music therapy for individuals suffering the effects of brain trauma including stroke, or who are afflicted with such degenerative neurological diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Dr. Tomaino is the recipient of numerous honors and accolades, including a Touchstone Award from “Women in Music” for her visionary spirit, the 2004 Music has Power Award from the IMNF and the Zella Bronfman Butler Award from the UJA-Federation of New York in partnership with the J.E. and Z.B. Butler for outstanding work on behalf of individuals with physical, developmental or learning disabilities. Most recently, Dr. Concetta Tomaino was honored as one of “Three Wise Women” by the National Organization of Italian American Women.
Al Perlmutter, Executive Producer
Director of The Independent Production Fund, Mr. Perlmutter has produced television programming for over thirty years. Prior to forming his own company, Mr. Perlmutter served as NBC News Vice President and earlier as Director of Public Affairs Programming and Program Manager of WNBC-TV, New York. He is the recipient of six Emmys and five Ace awards for excellence in programming on cable television. Perlmutter has produced award-winning documentaries including: NET Journal, The Creative Spirit, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, Native Land, The World of Abnormal Psychology, and The Emperor’s Eye: Art and Power in Industrial China. Perlmutter is the president of Alvin H. Perlmutter Inc, which produced “Adam Smith’s Money World” for PBS. He was the creator and executive producer of The Great American Dream Machine and other programs for public television.
Shachar Langlev, Cinematographer
Originally from Israel, Shachar Langlev has been working in New York’s film industry over the past several years as a director, producer and cinematographer, garnering recognition in his field. He received the Eastman Kodak Award for Excellence in Cinematography; he directed the hit music video for Damone, which aired on MTV, VH1, and was nominated at the Fuse Music Video Awards; he produced and shot Period Portrait, a short film that garnered awards from the National Board of Review and New York Women in Film and Television, and screened at festivals across the country.
Additional “Alive Inside” Production Staff
Mark Demolar, Editor
Manuel Tsingaris, Editor
Jonathan Clasberry, Associate Producer