Jonathan Olshefski

18 Jun 2018


Jonathan Olshefski, 2018 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Jonathan Olshefski, 2018 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Jonathan Olshefski, 2018 Pew Fellow. Photo by Carina Romano, courtesy of the artist.


Jonathan Olshefski, Quest, 2017, documentary film poster, courtesy of the artist.


Jonathan Olshefski, Quest, 2017, documentary film. Pictured: Jonathan Olshefski, Christina’a “Ma Quest” Rainey, PJ Rainey, and Christopher “Quest” Rainey. Photo by Colleen Stepanian.

“I am drawn to people living at the fringes of society, and I am committed to developing deep, long-term connections with them while generating work that reveals a beauty and complexity that often goes unrecognized.”

Jonathan Olshefski is a documentary filmmaker who creates intimate portraits of contemporary America, rooted in the long-term relationships he develops with his subjects. He notes, “I hope to act as a conduit for the voice of my subjects and position them as tellers of their own stories.” His debut feature film, QUEST, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and went on to be selected for over 70 festivals internationally. The film examines race and class in America as it follows the moving story of a North Philadelphia family and its community over the course of ten years. QUEST was lauded by The New York Times for its “quiet eloquence [that] invites you to reflect on what it means to belong to a family and a place,” and received multiple awards and prizes including the 2018 Truer Than Fiction Award presented by the Independent Spirit Awards. Olshefski is currently at work on Without Arrows, a film that tracks the lives of three generations of a Native American family in South Dakota. His work also encompasses short films, still photography, installations, art books, and digital media. Olshefski has been recognized as one of “9 New Directors You Need to Watch” by The New York Times and one of “25 New Faces in Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine. He has received grants from the MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and Cinereach Foundation. He is associate professor at Rowan University’s department of radio, TV, and film, and holds a MFA from Temple University.