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Joshua  Seftel

Joshua Seftel

Emmy-Winning Film Director

Biography

Although filmmaker Joshua Seftel is best known for directing the Emmy award-winning television show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and the feature film, War, Inc., starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley, his recent side project is attracting a new group of fans.

After his father passed away, Seftel wanted to find a better way to connect with his mother, Pat. With her living 1,150 miles away in Sarasota, Florida and his career keeping him constantly on the go, staying in touch was challenging. Then, he bought her an iPad for her birthday and everything changed.

After a few hilarious face-to-face lessons — filled with accidental hang-ups and pointing the camera at the ground — Seftel and his mother mastered FaceTiming – or “Facelifting” as his mom called it. He steered their conversations towards pop culture and loved her hilarious and candid opinions about Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and twerking. She said the things that everyone was thinking, and as a sweet Jewish grandmother, she could get away with it. Ever the filmmaker, Seftel started recording these conversations, and soon the web series, My Mom on Movies, hit the Internet. Read More >

Today, My Mom on Movies has received international attention and has proven to be the most personal and meaningful for Seftel. The duo have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Australia’s most popular morning show, NPR, in The Times of Israel, The Boston Globe and at public events to talk about their unique, yet universal story about how social media has reconnected them. With his touching and humorous speeches, Seftel illustrates how FaceTiming can bridge the gap between miles and generations for families looking to stay connected.

As a filmmaker, Seftel received his first Emmy nomination at age 22 with the award-winning documentary film, Lost and Found, about the plight of Romania’s 120,000 orphaned and abandoned children. The PBS broadcast of Lost and Found spurred thousands of American adoptions of Romanian orphans and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.

His documentary, Taking on The Kennedys, aired on PBS’ P.O.V. series and was chosen by Time Magazine as “one of the ten best television programs of the year.” Seftel has also been a contributor to the Peabody award-winning radio show, This American Life, and his essays have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR.

Whether it’s through his award-winning films, television specials, or digital media, Joshua Seftel is constantly finding ways to create content with a conscience. Seftel and his mother’s funny and heartwarming speeches — about how a mother-son bond grew stronger in the wake of loss, and how technology and humor can be used to bring people of all ages together — are proven crowd pleasers on the speakers’ circuit.  Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

On CBS Sunday Morning

On Australian Television

Media and Speaking Reel

Speech Topics

How I Reconnected with My Mother & Made Her a YouTube Star

When his father passed away in 2009, Emmy-winning director, Joshua Seftel, gave his mother an iPad in hopes that it would help them stay connected. Not only did the gift exceed his hopes, but also came with an unexpected surprise – the beloved web series, My Mom on Movies, starring his mom and her hilariously candid opinions about pop culture. The iPad transformed their relationship, and they became more than a mother and son: they became friends. Supported with clips of their conversations, this hilarious and heartwarming talk focuses on how Seftel found a new way to connect with his 77-year-old mother, transforming her into a YouTube star.

How to Call Your Parents in the 21st Century

For young adults in the social media age, finding new ways to stay connected with your techno-challenged parents can be difficult. In this funny and innovative speech, Filmmaker Joshua Seftel uncovers how he took his conversations with his mother into his own hands and broke free from typical mother-son conversation, deepening their bond and proving that technology can bridge generational gaps. He discusses how FaceTime made it fun to call his mom, how turning these conversations into a popular web series changed their dynamic and how modern technology can change future generations’ relationships with their parents.

How to Avoid Getting Pigeonholed in Hollywood

When aspiring filmmakers enter the entertainment industry, they’re told to choose one path in order to become successful. Award-winning filmmaker, Joshua Seftel has proven this theory wrong and demonstrates that in today's entertainment world, it's actually more beneficial to have range and depth when it comes to creating projects. Although he may be best known for directing the Emmy winning television show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and the film, War, Inc., starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley, he has worked across almost every medium in the industry. His ability to create meaningful and highly successful content in so many different forms — feature film, documentary, reality television, news, commercials and radio — has distinguished his career from other filmmakers. In this speech, Seftel discusses his projects and provides examples of how his work across mediums has only strengthened and advanced his ability to create meaningful content.

Connect with Joshua Seftel