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MariyaOldHorizontalMariya Gershteyn is a storyteller who was able to fulfill a life-long dream of making films when she joined NewTV in 2004. She and her family moved from Nizhny Novgorod, or Gorky, Russia to Newton in 1990. Once they were settled, she began taking classes at a local college where one of her teachers suggested she visit NewTV. When she arrived at the facility on Lincoln Street, she was amazed by everything that was offered and took every possible class before creating her documentaries.


Since joining NewTV, Mariya has finished seven larger projects and several smaller ones. All of her films have to do with topics she is interested in, such as art, literature, writers, multiculturalism and creativity. She has an ACM Hometown Media Award and has been recognized at NewTV’s Red Carpet Awards multiple times.


“This was…about children of different ages and how they feel both Russian and American.”


DVDsHer first project was Russian Studio. Produced in 2004, this film follows students from a Boston literary studio for Russian-speaking children. She followed up in 2005 with First Generation, First Person, which features the lives of children of Russian immigrants. She remembers, “This was very interesting work for me. It was about children of different ages and how they feel both Russian and American.” The film explores their relationships to both cultures and languages. In 2006, she changed gears and produced Encounter with Ehrenburg: Reconnaissance in Force about the life of Ilya Ehrenburg, a famous poet, writer and public figure who served as a connection between Russia and Western culture during WWII and beyond. That same year, Mariya worked on a number of smaller projects about poetry, including Snowflakes on my Lips, featuring her husband, an avid supporter of her work, who is also a poet.


“This project has a life…It was shown around the world.”


SparksSilverAgeHer 2007 film was one of her biggest undertakings; Nabokov: Happiest Years uncovers the American period of author Vladimir Nabokov’s life. “This project has a life,” Mariya recalls, “It was invited to festivals. It was shown around the world.” Nabokov was selected for the Boston International Film Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Film Festival. In 2009, she produced A Trifle from Life, named after and based on Anton Chekhov’s story by the same name. Second Life. Boston, produced in 2012, tells the story of Russian immigrants in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2015, she completed Sparks of the Silver Age, which focuses on the impressions of Ilya Ehrenburg upon meeting his contemporary poets. Throughout this time, she worked on other smaller projects, such as filming a string quartet at NewTV.


Currently, Mariya is working on two projects: Cognitum and Sofia. Sofia profiles an avant-garde artist in Soviet Russia. The film explores her artwork and her family’s story of immigration to the United States and their connection to Israel. The film is currently in the pre-production stage, with Mariya gathering documents, materials and some interviews. 


“My son has always supported me in my creative endeavors, and producing episodes of his talks with luminaries is a perfect compliment of skills.”


BobMariyaKatieCognitum is Mariya’s first foray into episodic television. The show shares complex scientific ideas in a way that is easy for a broad audience to digest. Cognitum is special because it’s a family affair: Mariya’s son Iosif is the host while she is the producer. Back in Russia, Mariya was a high school physics teacher, so science has always been an important part of her life. When her son approached her with the idea for Cognitum, she was excited. She says, “My son has always supported me in my creative endeavors, and producing episodes of his talks with luminaries is a perfect compliment of skills.” They have produced a few episodes already, and hope it will be a monthly series.


Mariya is grateful for NewTV and the support and assistance she has received from its staff members. She has learned all areas of production, but directing and preproduction are her favorites. Her passion for telling stories is infectious and shows no sign of slowing down. She says, “I always meet people and immediately want to tell the audience about them. It’s different stories and different people [that inspire me]. I have to keep myself from starting a new project!”