About Semyon Pinkhasov

Semyon Pinkhasov

Born in the Soviet Union, Semyon Pinkhasov immigrated to the United States in 1977 with training in sports (fencing) and medicine.

In addition to practicing physical therapy, he has served as Coach of the 1983 and 1987 U.S. Pan American Teams, the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, and the 1981 and 1985 U.S. Maccabiah Team. His fencers won 10 U.S. National Men’s Foil Team Championships, 6 U.S. National Women’s Foil Team Championships, and he individually coached more than 20 winners of national and international competitions.

He also worked extensively on a lobbying and public relations campaign to have his cousin, pianist Vladimir Feltsman, be allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union, where he was being held as a “Refusenik”. Semyon’s campaign succeeded in 1987, with the help of a personal invitation from President Reagan, which secured the musician’s release.

In 2000, Semyon started working with the media, hosting the Russian-language program “Diseases We Conquer,” in partnership with the Russian Television Company in New Jersey, and co-hosting the “News from Russia” program on Public Access Television in White Plains, New York.

Soon after, Semyon turned his energy to making documentary films that focus on individuality in the face of totalitarianism. These draw inspiration from the interplay of the various aspects of his background and interests—the USSR, sport, media, politics and the arts.

In 2003, Semyon produced and directed his first documentary “Music Made on Thursdays,” about the Moscow Music Club, for young devotees of classical music, founded in the 1960s. Using study and discussion of music as a forum for free speech that escaped the notice of Soviet authorities, the club survived that era’s political repression and still exists today.

In 2006, he produced and directed “I am not Giordano Bruno,” a documentary about 105 year-old Russian political cartoonist, Boris Efimov. Efimov survived Stalin’s purges because of the dictator’s personal interest in him and by his own ability to navigate the treacherous waters of political caricature in times of war and repression. In 2007, this film was officially selected by International Granada Film Festival in Spain.

In 2007, Semyon produced and directed “Judge not…,” a film that documents the career of Tikhon Khrennikov, Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers. Personally appointed by Stalin in 1948 (a time of aggressive campaigning against so-called capitalist influences in music), the composer worked to balance Communist Party rhetoric with protecting union members from purges and persecution, and served in this position until the Soviet Union’s collapse.

In 2008, Semyon produced and directed “What if? The Helene Mayer Story,” a documentary examining the decision of a half-Jewish fencing champion to participate in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, as a member of the Nazi German team. In 2009, this film won “The Best Screenplay Award” at the International Festival of Sports Films in Moscow, and was officially selected for 27th Milano International FICTS Festival in Italy.

In 2008 Semyon produced and directed “King David,” a short film about fencing.

Semyon holds a master degree in Physical Education from Russian Sport’s Academy and bachelor degree in Physical Education from New York University.