Alisa has research interests in documentary/mockumentary; pyschoanalysis and documentary; questions of realism and filmic eruptions of the "real"; filmic autobiography/representation of self/identity; Memoryscape in film; exilic/diasporic cinema; gender and sexual representation; activist media; film/video production. She graduated at Vassar College, Anthropology, B.A. (1985); NYU, Cinema Studies, M.A. (1998), and Ph.D. (2001).
Alisa is an independent filmmaker and writer. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The New Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, and in theaters and festivals around the world.
In 1995 she completed a short video in collaboration with Cynthia Madansky entitled Internal Combustion about lesbians and AIDS. In 1994 she produced, shot and edited Outlaw about transgender activist Leslie Feinberg. Lebow teaches courses on documentary aesthetics at NYU Graduate Film and TV.
Alisa Lebow and Cynthia Madansky met at a Passover seder in Brooklin, in 1990. They soon discovered that they were both raised in Jewish families of four girls, had birthdays three days apart, and were both filmmakers. "Call it narcissism," Madansky says, but they were in love.
Initially afraid of the "instant intimacy" such similarities could create, the two decided to begin a relationship anyway. They also continued on their separate film careers, the older Madansky in a more experimental vein and Lebow working on alternative documentaries.
In 1998 the two collaborated again on their most successful venture, the psuedodocumentary Treyf. Jewish lesbians are the topic, and Lebow and Madansky's experiences, recreated and reinterpreted for the camera, make up the substance.
Their differing backgrounds in Judaism give the film its tension: Madansky was raised orthodox until she became an atheist at fourteen, and lived in Jerusalem for ten years; Lebow grew up reform and rebelled against her family's unquestioning Zionism.
Treyf, literally meaning unclean or unkosher, is the thread that runs through the pairs' exploration of what it means to be a lesbian Jew. The film received the audience prize from the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and has been shown around the world. Lebow is a graduate student at NYU where she teaches film. The two lovers live in Manhattan.