Jonathan Kesselman

  • Director, Writer

A talented director, Jonathan Kesselman released his first major cinematic production while still in film school. Exploring Jewish themes with a comedic spin, he deftly uses film as a medium for commentary and satire.


Jonathan  Kesselman headshot
Past Hosts Include:
  • Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
  • Hillel at the University of Colorado Boulder
Rave Reviews About Jonathan Kesselman as a Speaker
Jonathan was awesome! He spoke at the University of Colorado’s Hillel and riveted the students with his wit and constant energy. Throughout the evening he rocked the house with his humor and at the same time shared his amazing insights into elements of film making. His energy in front of the group is contagious and every person in attendance exited with a chuckle and smile. I can’t wait to bring Jonathan back to CU for another amazing evening.

Talks & Conversations with Jonathan Kesselman
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From the Lens of the Camera to the Lens of the World

Jonathan Kesselman deftly uses film as a medium for commentary and satire. ...

Jonathan Kesselman deftly uses film as a medium for commentary and satire.

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Jonathan launched his career writing and directing The Hebrew Hammer in 2003 to international acclaim with its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. It later played a number of international festivals before being picked up for theatrical distribution (Hanukkah 2003) by Strand Releasing in conjunction with Comedy Central and Paramount Home Video.  Voted among the top holiday movies by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Boston Globe and Time Magazine, the Hebrew Hammer was aired on Comedy Central for five years after the television rights were sold to the major cable network. Moment Magazine included Hebrew Hammer among its Top 100 Most Influential Films in the History of Jewish Cinema. Among others in the list were The Graduate, Schindler’s List and Annie Hall.

Most recently, Jonathan’s newest feature film Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero starring Maz Jobrani and John Heard, had its world premiere at the 2014 Austin Film Festival, where it won the Comedy Vanguard award as well as the Audience Award. Jimmy will be released theatrically in 2015. Jonathan is currently in pre-production on The Hebrew Hammer VS Hitler.

Jonathan has been a screenwriter for: Fox, Paramount, Nickelodeon, Disney, Sony, Blue Sky Animation, MTV, Comedy Central  studios, and WWE (yes, it’s fake). Jonathan also works as a commercial director with such clients as Nintendo, Red Mango, DDB RX, American Media Inc., and the 2012 Mr. Olympia. Ironically, Jonathan taught ‘Writing Comedy for Film and Television’ at Yale University while concurrently acting as the humor columnist for the alternative goth-porn site Suicide Girls.

His short film work includes Arts & Crafts, starring Josh Cooke and Rob Benedict which was an “exclusive” on Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die website.  Funny Or Die then commissioned two other “exclusives”, which Jon wrote and directed, entitled Roasted: America Under the Influence and Sexy Daddy, starring Dave Foley and written by Dave and Kevin McDonald.

Born and raised in the mean streets of the San Fernando Valley, Kesselman received his Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado, graduating Magna Cum Laude in Psychology with an emphasis in Neuroscience. After college, Jon spent two years in the corporate world as an Information Systems Consultant before being accepted into graduate school at the University Of Southern California School of Cinema/Television, where he received his Masters Degree in Film Production in December of 2001.