San Francisco native Eli Akira Kaufman spent his first decade in Japan, Iran and Belgium where his Japanese American mother and Russian Jewish father taught in international schools. A graduate of Oberlin College, Kaufman completed his MFA in directing at The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. As an IFP/West Project: Involve Honoree, Kaufman worked with the Polish Brothers on their third film, Northfolk. Kaufman has written and directed several short films including Birthday Haiku, and Winning the Peace for Showtime. Kaufman has also directed live theater for The Francis Ford Coppola One Act Play Festival and was the recipient of the Jim Morrison Prize for directing, the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers and Directors Foundation Production Grant, and the Alfred P. Sloan Production Award for his thesis film script, California King which was honored by The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Student Emmy. Kaufman taught 11th and 12th grade literature and a film elective at Wildwood School in West Los Angeles and is an Adjunct Professor of film and television at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster where he also co-hosts The Antelope Valley Cinema Series. Before being named a CBS Diversity Institute Directing Initiative Fellow, Kaufman was a director trainee on Shark (CBS), Mad Men (AMC) and Bones (Fox). He currently works as the Events Coverage Producer at FilmINDependent.ORG while he preps to shoot his first feature, Recognition.
Eli Akira Kaufman was awarded a Production grant at UCLA in 2003 for California King