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Love & Stuff


Seven months after helping her terminally ill mother die in in-home hospice, filmmaker Judith Helfand becomes a “new old” single mother at 50. Overnight, she’s pushed to deal with her “stuff”: 63 boxes of her parents’ heirlooms overwhelming her office-turned-future baby’s room, the weight her mother had begged her to lose, and the reality of being a half-century older than her daughter.

The Filmmakers

Judith Helfand Director and Producer

Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to use her quirky sense of humor and irony, first-person storytelling chops and the power of transparency to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time -- from reproductive technology, corporate malfeasance and toxic chemical exposure to the climate crisis, the “politics of disaster" and deep grief. Three of her  films have premiered at Sundance and were nationally broadcast on PBS (POV, Independent Lens), HBO and The Sundance Channel. BLUE VINYL received the 2002 Sundance Excellence Award in Cinematography along with two Emmy nominations and its prequel, A HEALTHY BABY GIRL, which won a 1997 Peabody Award, possibly one of the only such awards to be accepted by a filmmaker's mother who was also the film's co-star. Helfand’s other long-form films include EVERYTHING’S COOL and THE UPRISING OF ‘34.

Helfand is a field-builder who has helped reshape the documentary landscape by co-founding two critical organizations, Working Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures. As Creative Director she helped design and lead Chicken & Egg Pictures’ mentorship and funding programs for nearly a decade as Creative Director, served as a Producer on the Oscar-nominated, Dupont-winning short, THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM and Executive Producer on the award-winning films SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL and PRIVATE VIOLENCE. She continues work at Chicken & Egg Pictures as a Senior Creative Consultant. In 2007, Helfand received a United States Artist Fellowship, one of 50 awarded annually to “America’s finest living artists.” In 2016 she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Branch. In late 2018 she completed and launched COOKED: Survival By Zip Code, an award winning feature documentary about extreme heat, the politics of disaster and survival by zip code, for which she was awarded the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s 2019 Freedom of Expression Award. It was nationally broadcast on the PBS Independent Lens Series in February and July of 2020, and during this pandemic, sadly more resonant and useful than ever. Helfand's newest feature, LOVE & STUFF, had its world premiere at the 2020 Hot Docs Film Festival and is now on the festival circuit and the centerpiece/inspiration for the film's virtual engagement built around workshops that inspire people to talk about love, mourning and grief, in the time of covid, and how to use zoom and the act of talking about stuff to foster critical connections and have those critical, yet hard to have end of life discussions (before it's too late). 

Helfand is the 2020 Bob Allison (Allesee) Endowed Chair in Media at Wayne State University’s Department of Communications, on faculty at SVA’s Social Documentary Program, and just started a one-year visiting professorship at Columbia University's J [Journalism] School where she will be teaching in the documentary program. She lives in NYC with her six-year-old daughter Theodora. 

David Cohen Co-Director

David Cohen is an editor and filmmaker whose work has screened at Tribeca (Opening Night), SXSW, MOMA’s New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs and Outfest (among others). His award winning films have been broadcast on PBS, CNN, published in the New York Times’ Op Docs and supported by ITVS, the MacArthur Foundation and the Sundance Institute.

His most recent film as an editor, LOVE, GILDA was distributed theatrically by Magnolia Pictures and received a Primetime Emmy Award® nomination for Outstanding Documentary.

David attended the 2017 Sundance Documentary Edit & Story Labs and received his BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. 

Julie Parker Benello Producer

Julie is the Founder of Secret Sauce Media, her latest venture to produce and invest in surprising and timeless film projects. Julie co-founded Chicken & Egg Pictures, in 2005 with a shared belief that diverse women nonfiction storytellers have the power to catalyze change at home and around the globe. She produced Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s Academy Award®, Emmy, Gotham and Independent Spirit winning feature documentary American Factory, streaming on Netflix in partnership with Higher Ground Productions and Participant Media. She most recently produced Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk’s Netflix Originals documentary – Athlete A, as well as longtime collaborator Judith Helfand’s feature documentary, Love & Stuff, which premiered at the virtual cinema at Hot Docs. She was an Executive Producer of United Skates (Tribeca 2018, HBO) and The Tale for Gamechanger Films, (Sundance 2018, HBO). Earlier in her career, she co-produced Blue Vinyl, served as a Production Executive for the company, Non Fiction Films and as an archival researcher for Discovery Channel series Cronkite Remembers. Julie lives in San Francisco and serves on the Board of SFFILM and is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Documentary Branch.

Hilla Medalia Producer

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and producer has received four Emmy® nominations. Her projects have garnered critical acclaim and screened internationally in theatres and on television including HBO, MTV, PBS, BBC and ARTE. Her range of titles include 'To Die in Jerusalem' 2007 (HBO), 'After the Storm' 2009 (MTV), 'Numbered' 2012 (ARTE), 'Dancing in Jaffa' 2013 (Tribeca, IFC Sundance selects), 'Web Junkie' 2014 (Sundance Film Festival, POV, BBC), 'The Go Go Boys' 2014 (Cannes Film Festival), 'Censored Voices' 2015, (Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale), ‘Muhi - Generally Temporary’ 2017 (San Francisco Film Festival, Hot Docs), ‘The Oslo Diaries’ 2018 (Sundance, HBO), Transkids  a 5 part series and film 2019 (yes Docu),  Leftover Women 2019 (Tribeca, Hotdocs), Love & Stuff 2020 (HotDocs)  and more. 

Hilla has been awarded the Paris Human Rights Festival Jury Award, Golden Warsaw Phoenix, as well as the jury award at FIPA and more. She is a regular lecturer at The NY Film Academy, NYU, EWA (European Women’s Audiovisual Network) and the New Fund for Cinema’s Women Greenhouse on the subject of production, directing and crowdfunding.  Hilla is a mentor for the NFCT’s Business Card Program for Emerging Filmmakers, at Ex Oriente and Dok Incubator. She acts as lector and judge at film festivals and forums, was a board member of The Israeli Director's Guild and the Israeli film Academy and is a member of the American Academy of Film and Television. 

Hilla holds an M.A. from Southern Illinois University.

Festivals & Awards

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival


Official Selection



Official Selection


[A] tender cinematic memoir [and] celebration of the breadcrumbs we leave behind for future generations.”

-The Moveable Fest

It’s hard to express how much I needed this documentary without even realizing it...A truly inspiring piece of filmmaking.”

-In Their Own League