Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for January, 2012

SHABBAT DINNER Release Party February 23!

We’d really like to see you at our release party. Bring friends!!

(Also..Shabbat Dinner now has a fancy new website. I left out the Under Construction GIF, but you get the idea..)

a short film by Michael Morgenstern
playing once in a private screening before its premiere
at the Hong Kong International Film Festival
Please RSVP on Eventbrite!
(even if you have already bought a ticket, an RSVP is appreciated)

Thursday, February 23 | 8:00 PM
White Rabbit NYC (145 East Houston St)


Shabbat Dinner is a short film about two kids coming to terms with being gay over a Friday night dinner. It tells a story of family pressures, social norms, and a universal experience rarely touched upon in mainstream media.

For those without tickets, a suggested donation of $10 will go to charity.

Image by Mark Grabiner.

Presenting at Columbia panel on human rights and film

Human Rights Institute | Human Rights & Film Panel

I’d like to invite everyone to a panel at Columbia University Law School. I will be talking about the creative approaches that FilmAid has taken to human rights advocacy and showing some clips of our work. Film has had such a powerful impact on the refugees that I’ve worked with, and I’m excited to share those stories and hear from others. I’ll be with representatives from the Human Rights International Film Festival, Video Volunteers, and two independent filmmakers.
The event is open to the public, details below. I hope you can make it!

Human Rights Institute | Human Rights & Film Panel

Monday, January 30 | 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 101
435 West 116th Street
New York City

Please join HRI & Rightslink for a panel discussion on the role of film and filmmakers in human rights advocacy. Panelists from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Video Volunteers and FilmAid International will discuss the creative approaches these organizations have taken to human rights advocacy and present clips from their films. We hope that this panel will be the first of a series about innovative approaches to human rights advocacy.

Jennifer Nedbalsky,
Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
Dina Madhani, Video Volunteers, India Unheard
Michael Morgenstern, FilmAid International
April Hayes & Katia Maguire, Independent Filmmakers

Refreshments will be served. Contact [email protected] with questions.

Webcomic: Secure Passwords

..but we had no idea how terrible the ascii support would be at the vet's office!

..but we had no idea how terrible the ascii support would be at the vet's office!

The Blank Page

I try to spend at least a half hour a day banging my head against a wall. Some may call it writing, and yes, at times words appear on a page, only to be backspaced into oblivion. But more often than not, the dominant behavior during these sessions is my metaphorical forehead slamming against metaphorical brick.

It’s been getting much easier though, because I’ve felt the feeling of reward. Three times over the past few months, I’ve had many-day periods of painful writers block, each time when trying to express something complicated, which ended in several-hour bursts of MiraLax’ed expression, writing that was somehow cogent and fully formed.

Now that I blissfully expect to be sitting in one of those periods, have I thwarted this unconscious process? I’m sure that in theory, expressing complex ideas in narrative form can happen without a feeling of pain. I’m just not sure if I’m there yet.

I’ll keep writing this screenplay, starting over again each day with a blank page and a new plan of attack, and see where it goes. And I’ll let ya know.

Webcomic: Most of the time..

My ROFLs, on the other hand...

My ROFLs, on the other hand...

My Guantánamo Nightmare

This is one of the greatest types of New York Times articles – newsworthy both because of its extraordinary content and because a newspaper of this caliber is ready to hold the story up to the world. Boumedine’s story is beautifully told and heartbreaking; empathy for an innocent man is lain upon a deep, sore, throbbing of cultural guilt that we have allowed this to happen, still allow this to happen. It’s wrong to trample on the lives of innocent people; it’s appalling when it is done so in such a systematic and preventible way: (NYTimes article)

I still had faith in American justice. I believed my captors would quickly realize their mistake and let me go. But when I would not give the interrogators the answers they wanted — how could I, when I had done nothing wrong? — they became more and more brutal. I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time. These are things I do not want to write about; I want only to forget.

I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned. Twice each day my captors would shove a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach so they could pour food into me. It was excruciating, but I was innocent and so I kept up my protest.

In 2008, my demand for a fair legal process went all the way to America’s highest court. In a decision that bears my name, the Supreme Court declared that “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” It ruled that prisoners like me, no matter how serious the accusations, have a right to a day in court. The Supreme Court recognized a basic truth: the government makes mistakes. And the court said that because “the consequence of error may be detention of persons for the duration of hostilities that may last a generation or more, this is a risk too significant to ignore.”

Five months later, Judge Richard J. Leon, of the Federal District Court in Washington, reviewed all of the reasons offered to justify my imprisonment, including secret information I never saw or heard. The government abandoned its claim of an embassy bomb plot just before the judge could hear it. After the hearing, he ordered the government to free me and four other men who had been arrested in Bosnia.

What if Tim Tebow were Muslim?

The systemic xenophobia in American discourse is so pervasive that this question feels a bit obvious and not nearly digging deep enough into the shitslinging that is American power today. But this Salon article is still revelatory in its comparison of Tim Tebow to Chris Jackson, a basketball player who in 1993 changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf:

Everyone had an opinion, from fans to sports writers to radio hosts. Sports Illustrated reported that some people suggested Abdul-Rauf be deported. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was born in Mississippi, however, and deportation from Colorado to Mississippi is rare. Two Denver-area radio hosts even walked into a mosque with a stereo playing the Star Spangled Banner. One was wearing a turban. And a Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf T-shirt. While broadcasting live, on air.

Abdul-Rauf claimed in a 2010 interview with that “[a]fter the national anthem fiasco, nobody really wanted to touch me.” He played only three more seasons in the NBA before going overseas to play professionally. In that same interview, he discusses how his home in Mississippi was burned down just a few months prior to Sept. 11. He eventually left the state.

So Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stood up (or in this case, sat down) for his religious beliefs. He made his religion a visible aspect of his life and a visible aspect of his professional basketball career. Just like Tim Tebow. The difference of course being that Tim Tebow was satirized on “Saturday Night Live.” Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had his home burned down and felt blacklisted from the NBA.

Hate religion / love Jesus

Thanks Rob. This is definitely worth a watch. Really nice to see someone explore and describe their faith, especially in a way that reconciles Christianity with the oft-monster that the Church has become. I don’t really believe in a man up there, but the story of Jesus is definitely one to learn from.