No Escaping Houdini

Executive Producer: Marc Rosenwasser
Producer: Gizem Yarbil

Thirteen Premieres No Escaping Houdini, a documentary I produced in 2010, featuring Modern Day Houdinis, David Blaine and Penn & Teller. 

“A new documentary, No Escaping Houdini, broadcast by WNET.ORG explores how Ehrich Weiss, better known as Harry Houdini, captivated audiences around the world through his impossibly daring feats and astonishing ability to escape from the most difficult scenarios. The program is hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Edie Magnus, and features interviews with American illusionists and modern day Houdinis, David Blaine and Penn & Teller.

No Escaping Houdini is a production of WLIW21 for WNET.ORG, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers, and airs as a companion to “Houdini: Art and Magic,” the new exhibition featured at The Jewish Museum in New York City, a WNET.ORG media partner.

The program traces Houdini’s origins from his Jewish immigrant roots to his untimely death, examining this lasting impact on the world of entertainment and his role as a celebrated Jewish American. “A hundred years after Houdini was around, if you ask anybody out on the street to name a magician, probably the first one they name, most certainly in the top three, will be Houdini,” says Penn Jillette of Houdini’s lasting influence.

In his own candid interview, David Blaine explains, “To me, the thing that Houdini did that was the most amazing was he was able to capture the public’s imagination creating images that lasted throughout time; they’re still here today and they’re just as important.”

Watch it here.



Turkey’s Kurds seek justice for unsolved murders

Reporter/Camera/Edit: Gizem Yarbil
Producer: Bryan Myers

This feature story aired on the international news program Worldfocus which airs on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

Correspondent Gizem Yarbil and producer Bryan Myers recently traveled to the Kurdish enclave of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey for a closer look at the allegations that the Turkish government had engaged in a so-called “dirty war” against the Kurds.

Turkey’s longstanding conflict between ethnic Kurdish minority and the Turkish government flared this weekend after demonstrations erupted when the high court outlawed the main Kurdish political party.

The Kurds see themselves as an oppressed minority, while the Turkish government sees many of them as dangerous separatists.



Rising Islamist movement challenge secularism in Turkey

Reporter/Camera/Edit: Gizem Yarbil
Producer: Bryan Myers

This feature story aired on the international news program Worldfocus which airs on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

Almost all of 77 million people in Turkey are Muslim, but signs of Islamic faith are noticeably divorced from everyday life. But a growing number of Turks are joining conservative movements that believe religion should play a greater role in the country’s ethical and moral values. Secular critics brand these religious groups as fundamentalist.

Correspondent Gizem Yarbil and producer Bryan Myers report on how traditional religion and modern democracy are trying to coexist in Turkey today.


Female soccer players shoot down Turkish taboos

Reporter/Camera/Edit: Gizem Yarbil
Producer: Bryan Myers

This feature story aired as part of the Women in Islam series on the international news program Worldfocus which airs on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service).

In much of Turkey, playing soccer is something girls simply don’t do. But some women players are challenging the norms and taking to the field.

As Worldfocus correspondent Gizem Yarbil and producer Bryan Myers discovered, part of the resistance to women playing soccer is religious and part of it is cultural.



A La Cart – Street Vendors of New York City

Street Vendor picAiring on: AlHurra TV


Gizem Yarbil, Tais Moraes, Rob Thompson

Project Adviser: Philip Scheffler

Street Vendors have become a New York City fixture. There are more than 10,000 in the city and more than 80% of them are immigrants. They work long hours under harsh conditions, counting on good weather to sell their goods and services.

Since 1994, vendors have been the subjects of New York City’s “quality of life” crackdown.

Here is the story of a day in the life of street vendors in New York City.

This 30-minute documentary has been produced as the final Master’s Project thesis for the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

A 22-minute version of this documentary is airing currently in the Middle East and North Africa on Al Hurra, an Arabic language satellite television network.

You can view this documentary at:


Neo-Nazis rally on Capitol

Reporter/Producer/Writer/Camera/Edit: Gizem Yarbil
Co-Producer: Matthew Kennard
Still Title Photo: Zachary Goelman

Members of a neo-Nazi group calling themselves America’s Nazi Party rallied in Washington this Saturday against illegal immigration. As they rallied near the Capitol, others gathered to protest the presence of the neo-Nazis, keeping police busy throughout the afternoon.



Former Newsday columnist sues the NYPD over press-passes

Producer: Gizem Yarbil, Reporter: Robb Thompson

Published: The Columbia Journalist, Global Press Watch

With journalism moving toward the web, a discussion is brewing over who exactly is a journalist. Here is the story of one man who’s taking the NYPD to court over the issue.



Heroes of Gotham City

Reporter: Gizem Yarbil
Producer: Yaldaz Sadakova
Written by: Gizem Yarbil and Yaldaz Sadakova
Special Thanks to: Begin North Productions
For web only

You never know who you’ll run into on the streets of New York…