As the main topic of this year’s festival, Docaviv will feature a select group of thought-provoking films about a world that is changing with the collapse of physical and social boundaries, growing economic disparities, the waves of refugees and immigrants, civil wars, international terrorism, and the ultimate undoing of social solidarity.
Opening night film, "Babylon Dreamers"
Within the framework of this theme the program does not only include documentaries about terror and refugees, but also about a fragmented society which is losing its solidarity. Both in Israel and elsewhere the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening, and so are the frustrations and the unrest. Israeli and international titles correlating to these themes can be found throughout the entire festival program:
“Death in the terminal” - Directors Tali Shemesh (“The Cemetery Club”) and Assaf Surd
A tense, minute-by-minute, Rashomon-style account of a tragic day. On October 18, 2015, a terrorist armed with a gun and a knife entered Beersheba’s bus terminal. Within 18 minutes Omri Levy, a soldier was killed and Abtum Zarhum, Eritrean immigrant asylum seeker, was lynched after being mistaken for a terrorist.
“The settlers” - Premiered in Sundance, Director Shimon Dotan.
A far-reaching, comprehensive look at the Jewish settlement enterprise in the West Bank. It examines the origins of the settlement movement and the religious and ideological visions that propelled it, while providing an intimate look at the people at the center of the greatest geopolitical challenge now facing Israel and the international community. (ISA Contact: Cinephil)
“Town on a Wire” - premiered at CPH: Dox Dir: Uri Rosenwaks
While Tel Aviv is thriving, just ten minutes away lies the town of Lod, right in the backyard of Israel’s bustling urban center. Unlike its affluent neighbor, Lod is a city that suffers from the blight of racism, crime, and sheer desperation. Can it be saved? Is there some way to bring hope to Lod’s Arab and Jewish residents?
“Foucoammare”/ “Fire at Sea” - by Gianfranco Rosi - winner of Golden Bear, Berlinale 2016 -every day the inhabitants of the Italian Island Lampedusa are confronted with the flight of refugees to Europe . These people long for peace and freedom and often only their dead bodies are pulled out of the water. (Contact ISA: Doc & Film Int’l. U.S.: Kino Lorber)
“Between fences” – by Avi Mograbi -. In an Israeli detention center asylum-seekers from Eritrea and Sudan can’t be sent back to their own countries, but have no prospects in Israel either thanks to the country’s policies. Chen Alon and Avi Mograbi, initiate a theatre workshop to give these people the opportunity to address their own experiences of forced migration and discrimination and to confront an Israeli society that views them as dangerous infiltrators.
“A Syrian Love Story” – by Sean McAllister -You can’t be Che Guevara and a mother Amer tells Raghda, but maybe she can't do it any other way. After years of struggle, life without her homeland and the revolution has no meaning for her. It is hard to determine what is more demanding in this bold film: the revolution, or the search for inner peace. (Contact ISA: Cat & Docs)
“Homo Sapiens” – by Nikolaus Geyrhalter - what does humanity leave behind when its gone? It sometimes seems as if the mark that humans leave on this planet will last forever. The truth is that the iron, bricks, cement, and steel – the human traces everywhere abandoned and forgotten – are erased by the forces of nature. This unusually beautiful film may lack people and words, but that leaves even more room for thought.(Contact ISA: Autlook)
“Land of the Enlightened” – Premiered at Sundance FF 2016. Shot over seven years on evocative 16mm footage, first-time director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting look at the condition of Afghanistan left for the next generation. As American soldiers prepare to leave, we follow De Pue deep into this hidden land where young boys form wild gangs to control trade routes, sell explosives from mines left over from war, making the new rules of war based on the harsh landscape left to them. (Contact ISA: Films Boutique)
“Flickering Truth” - Premiered at Toronto FF 2015. Director Pietra Brettkelly (The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins) directs this harrowing, compelling film about the power of cinema to preserve our history and in so doing potentially change our futures. (Contact ISA: Film Sales Company)
“Requiem for the American Dream” - Directed by Peter D. Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, Jared P. Scott. In ten chilling but lucid chapters, Noam Chomsky, one of the great intellectuals of our time, analyzes the “system,” which allows wealthy capitalists to seize the reins of government and turn those without wealth into a passive herd, willing to forego power, solidarity, and democracy itself. (U.S.: Gravitas. Contact ISA: Films Transit)
The festival will open with a first film by Israeli director Roman Shumunov
“Babylon Dreamers” Directed by Roman Somonob. An intimate report about a troupe of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, from one of Ashdod’s poorest neighborhoods; they struggle to survive facing harsh conditions - poverty, mental illness, and broken families. They channel their anger and cling to their dream of attending and winning the International Breakdance Championship.
Some 70 Israeli films produced over the last year were submitted out of which 13 films have been selected for the Israeli Competition. They will be competing for the largest cash prize for documentary filmmaking in Israel 70,000 NIS (US$ 15,000). Other awards in the competition include the Mayor’s Prize for the Most Promising Filmmaker, the Prize for Editing, the Prize for Cinematography, the Prize for Research, and the Prize for Original Score.
The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev, directors Tal Barda, Noam Pinchas -Tajikistan’s answer to the Jackson Family. A modern-day Shakespearean tale about a famous Tajik musical family, controlled by their charismatic patriarch-grandfather - Papa Alaev.
A Tale of Two Balloons by Zohar Wagner - The tale of a women who thought a pair of perfect breasts would help her find true love. But when that love came along, those perfect breasts had to go.
Aida's Secrets ,director Alon Schwarz - At 68, Izak learns he has a brother he never knew about. As part of the discoveries about the family, the film uncovers the story of the Displaced Persons camps- the vibrant and often wild social life that flourished immediately after WW2.
Child Mother by Yael Kipper and Ronen Zaretzky - The story of elderly women born in Morocco and Yemen, who were married off when they were still little girls. Only now, as they enter the final chapter of their lives, do they openly face their past and the ways it still affects them and their families.
The Last Shaman directed by Raz Degan - Inspired by an article he read, James decides to travel to the Amazon rainforests, in search of a shaman whom he thinks can save him from a clinical depression that haunts him.
The Patriarch's Room by Danae Elon -The bizarre imprisonment of the former head of the Greek Orthodox Church in a tiny monastic cell in Jerusalem’s Old City leads to a fascinating journey in search of the truth, penetrating the remote world of the priesthood. The complex and unfamiliar picture that emerges is revealed here, on camera, for the very first time.
Poetics of the Brain by Nurith Aviv –weaving associative links between her personal biographical stories and neuroscientists’ accounts of their work. They discuss topics such as memory, bilingualism, reading, mirror neurons, smell, traces of experience.
Shalom Italia, by Tamar Tal Anati (winner of Docaviv for Life in Stills) -Three Italian Jewish brothers set off on a journey through Tuscany, in search of a cave where they hid as children to escape the Nazis. Their quest, full of humor, food and Tuscan landscapes, straddles the boundary between history and myth, both of which really, truly happened.
Week 23 by Ohad Milstein - Rahel, the daughter of a Swiss bishop, is coping with a difficult pregnancy in Israel. One of the identical twins she is carrying has died in utero, and now poses an almost certain threat to its sibling. The doctors are unequivocal about it. They tell Rahel that she should abort the surviving fetus and end her pregnancy.
The Settlers by Shimon Dotan; Town On A Wire directed by Uri Rosenwaksand Eyal Blachson; Death in the Terminal by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry, and Babylon Dreamers by Roman Shumunov.
The Members of the selection committee included Sinai Abt, artistic director of the Docaviv Film Festival; director Reuven Brodsky, winner of Docaviv in 2012 for his film Home Movie and of Honorable Mention at Docaviv in 2015 and film editor Ayelet Ofarim.
Twelve films have been selected for the International Competition, which will open with the The Happy Film by Stefan Seigmeister. Also competing are Jerzy Sladkowski’s Don Juan, winner of the IDFA Award; Author: The J.T. LeRoy Story about the imaginary cult figure who became the darling of New York society and nightlife, picked up by Amazon at Sundance a""s its first doc title. Another festival favorite is A Flickering Truth and Sean McAllister's daring award winning documentary A Syrian Love Story.
The Depth of Field Competition will open with LoveTrue by director Alma Har’el, who will be a juror for the Israeli Film Competition. This is the Competition’s third year, held in conjunction with the Film Critics’ Forum that will award films for an outstanding and daring artistic vision. Other films that will be screened as part of the competition include Sundance winners Kate Plays Christine by Robert Greene, and Pieter-Jan De Pue’s hybrid documentary The Land of the Enlightened; other titles that will be shown are Hotel Dallas by wife and husband artist duo Livia Ungur and Sherng-Lee Huang, The Hong Kong Trilogy by noted cinematographer Christopher Doyle , and the musical- turned into documentary London Road by Rufus Norris and Alecky Blythe.
The Masters Section, a new category in the festival, highlighting new films by world renowned directors will be opened by Fire at Sea by director Gianfranco Rosi, winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale. Avi Mograbi’s Between Fences will be accompanied by a play by the Holot Legislative Theater, with a cast of actors that includes Israelis and African asylum seekers.
Other films in this section include amongst others Junun, Paul Thomas Anderson’s portrayal of a musical project involving Shye Ben-Tzur and Jonny Greenwood, Homo Sapiens by director Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine by director Alex Gibney, To the Desert by director Judd Neeman, Unlocking the Cage by directors D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, De Palma by co-director Noah Baumbach and He Named Me Malala by David Guggenheim.
The Panorama selection of films will include amongst others the moving Strike a Pose, by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan about the dancers who accompanied Madonna on her “Blond Ambition” tour, Roger Ross Williams ‘Life, Animated depicting the remarkable story of an autistic boy, who learned how to communicate with his surroundings through Disney films, Those Who Jump about an African refugee who films attempts by other refugees to jump the barbed wire border fence in North Africa and Louis Theroux: My Scientology Film.
This year’s Arts Section will include Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble by Academy Award winner Morgan Neville; I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman, which was produced shortly before her tragic death, Listen to Me, Marlon, which tells the story of Marlon Brando through the audio recordings he made throughout his life, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, the salacious story of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, Koudelka Shooting Holy Land, Gilad Baram’s film about famous Czech photographer Josef Koudelka’s travels along the Separation Fence, and more.
Seven films produced by the top film schools in Israel were selected to compete in the annual Student Film Competition. The prize for the competition was donated by the Gottesman family in memory of Ruti Gottesman, a leading supporter of Docaviv and of documentary.
The Members of the selection committee included Karin Ryvind Segal, programming director for Docaviv, Hila Avraham, curator and expert on film and audiovisual media preservation and screenwriter Danny Rosenberg, whose work includes the films My Father’s House , Susia and the television series Johnny and the Knights of the Galilee.
Special Guests attending the Festival:
Award winning Director Ondi Timoner, will be attending the Israeli premiere of her film Russell Brand: A Second Coming. Her Sundance-winning film Dig! will be among the music documentaries screened at the Tel Aviv Port. In conjunction with the Film Department of Beit Berl College, Timoner will also be conducting a special master class for students, professionals, and amateurs.
This year’s festival will include a special tribute to acclaimed director Nikolaus Geyrhalter who will be attending the festival with his recent Homo Sapiens. This year’s festival will also include two previous films of his, Our Daily Bread and Abendland,.
International jury members attending the festival include:
Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen, Director of the IDFA industry office; Gary Kam, producer of Planet of Snail; film director Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach; LoveTrue) ; Nilotpal, Director of Docedge Kolkata, Sascha Lara Bleuler, Director of the Human Rights Film Festival in Zurich, and film director Tatiana Brandrup.
The Israeli jurors include:
Director Dror Moreh, director and producer Barak Heymann, director Robby Elmaliah, producer Elinor Kowarsky, photographer David Adika, and film editor Tal Rabiner.
Around town. A record number of twelve screening venues spread out across Tel Aviv will offer free screenings. These are: Habima Square, the Beit Danny Community Center, the Hatikvah neighborhood, the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa, the rooftop of Tel Aviv City Hall, WeWork, Levinsky Park, Bar Kayma, Beit Romano, the Nalaga’at Center, Picnic Little Italy-Sarona Tel Aviv, and Artport.
Outdoors. The Tel Aviv Port will continue to host the festival this year, with outdoor screenings of music films with guest deejays from KZRadio. Films to be screened at the port include Janis: Little Girl Blue, The Reflektor Tapes about the band Arcade Fire, P.T Andersoan’s Junun about the musical collaboration between Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, Nigel Godrich, and a dozen Indian musicians.
Festival Firsts. DocaviVR: a collaboration between Docaviv and Steamer, Israel’s first Interactive and Virtual Reality Film Festival, presents original documentary projects from Israel and around the world, created especially for viewing with VR gear. The event will take place at Beit Romano. A cinema will pop up in one of Tel Aviv’s trendy hubs, with 25 stations equipped with VR gear.
The Docommunity conference aims to promote dcomentary across the country by bringing together cultural coordinators and artistic directors from across the country to introduce them to the latest documentary films from Israel and around the world.
The Platform for Alternative Documentation at Artport art space: A performative piece that brings together film artists, social activists, and researchers studying the various aesthetic, social, and philosophical aspects of documentation. Curated by Laliv Melamed and Gilad Reich.
Young audiences. For the first time, films from The Next Doc will be screened, a special initiative of Docaviv, the Second Channel, and the New Fund for Film and Television, which led to the production of three films created especially for a teenage audience.
Docaviv will also be hosting the final event of Docu Young, at which films by students in residential schools, who participated in film workshops , will be screened.
The Docyouth Competition will feature the best documentary films produced by students in high school film programs throughout the country. For the first time, voting for this year’s competition will be held online and open to high school students across the country.
Among the Screenings of docs for kids are Victor Kosakovsky’s “Varicella”, and “Landfilharmonic”.
Over the course of the festival, 110 films will be screened.
About Sydney Levine
Sydney Levine is an executive of longstanding in the international film business. She is a writer of the popular blog on international film business, SydneysBuzz which also has run on Indiewire, IMDbPro and IMDb since 2008 when Amazon acquired her twenty-five year old company FilmFinders. In 1988 Sydney created FilmFinders, the industry’s first database of worldwide features used by distributors, sales agents and festival programmers acquiring features. It became industry standard for organizing and tracking the rights-buying activities of the film business and was adopted by the Cannes Marché and developed into what today is called Cinando.com. She and her partner, Peter Belsito continue to provide consulting and strategic planning for producers, national film organizations and other educational initiatives in international film business at Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Germany's Deutsche Welle Akademie, Talents in Berlin, Sarajevo, and Guadalajara, EICTV the international film school in Los Banos, Cuba, Chapman University, UCLA Extension, Vilnius University, et. al. She organizes, moderates and participates in panel discussions on the international film business, as well as producing white paper research and reports on SydneysBuzz.com. Sydney works with the markets in Cannes and Berlin in administering buyers’ data for North America, Latin America and Asia and gives tours of the market to newcomers. She opens the Cannes Shorts Corner with a presentation on The International Film Circuit for shorts. She has currently completed a book about Latin American Film Financing published in Spanish by the Guadalajara University Press. The English version on the Iberoamerican Film Business will be published in the fall of 2016.
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