Irving Saraf

Irving Saraf was a Polish-born American film producer, film editor, film director and academic. Saraf won an Academy Award for producing the 1991 documentary film, In the Shadow of the Stars. In total, Saraf had more than one hundred fifty film and television production credits. His resume included Poland, Communism's New Look, a 1965 television film; USA Poetry: Twelve Films About Modern Poets in 1966; and the 2009 documentary Empress Hotel following the residents of a low-income hotel in Tenderloin, San Francisco.

Saraf was born in Poland and raised in Israel. He immigrated to the United States in 1952, settling in San Francisco. He was married to his second wife, producer Allie Light, for 38 years. Light and Saraf formed a professional production partnership beginning in 1981. Saraf received a Bachelor's of Arts in motion pictures from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition to producing, Saraf taught film production at San Francisco State University. Saraf founded the film division of KQED, a PBS channel in San Francisco. He also worked as the manager of the production company, Fantasy Films, owned by film producer, Saul Zaentz. Saraf produced many films with Zaentz, including as the post production supervisor for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.

In 1995, Light and Saraf were jointly nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy for their work on the PBS show, Dialogues with Madwomen.

Irving Saraf died of complications from three years of Lou Gehrig's disease at his home in San Francisco on December 26, 2012, at the age of 80. He was survived by his second wife of 38 years, Allie Light; six children - Peter, Michal, Ilana, Alexis, Charles and Julia; and eight grandchildren. Peter Saraf is an Academy Award nominated producer whose credits include Adaptation in 2002, Little Miss Sunshine 2006 and Our Idiot Brother in 2011. (8/14)

Available Title(s):


The Sermons of Sister Jane Believing the Unbelievable


A film by Allie Light, Irving Saraf and Carol Monpere, 2007, 53 min., Color
From Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Allie Light and Irving Saraf (Dialogues With Madwomen and In The Shadow of The Stars), in p...

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Blind Spot: Murder by Women


A film by Irving Saraf, Allie Light and Julia Hilder, 2000, 87 min., Color
Because murder by women is still relatively rare--only one out of eight murders in the United States is committed by a woman--women's own stories prov...

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Rachel's Daughters Searching for the Causes of Breast Cancer


A film by Allie Light and Irving Saraf
Produced with Nancy Evans
, 1997, 107 min., Color

From the makers of the Oscar-winning IN THE SHADOWS OF THE STARS, this fascinating documentary follows a group of women - all breast cancer activists ...

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Mitsuye and Nellie Asian American Poets


A film by Allie Light and Irving Saraf, 1981, 58 min., Color
This absorbing documentary examines the lives of Asian Americans through the inspirational poetry of Mitsuye Yamada and Nellie Wong. Interviews, rare ...

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