For city dwellers, there is a constant debate about whether to live in the crowded, pricy neighborhoods of a metropolis or to strike out farther afield and find some quiet. Though suburban rural life holds invaluable advantages, the argument often comes back to the cultural opportunities available in cities.

In Israel, the clear cultural capitals are Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the places where exhibitions, performances and events take place. Thus individuals lured away by cheaper housing, beautiful views and utter serenity must sacrifice the convenience of having the country’s artistic prowess at their fingertips.

In recent years, however, these dilemmas have begun to ease, largely thanks to the work of organizations and festivals that have extended their activities to include areas outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

This week, the fourth annual Docaviv Galilee Film Festival will take place in the northern town of Ma’alot Tarshiha. The Docaviv Film Festival was established 15 years ago in Tel Aviv. Every spring, the festival brings the best of documentary films to Israel for days packed with screenings, discussions and events.

The release of the annual program is highly anticipated; with a large audience base waiting to see what the festival directors will bring.

Four years ago, in an attempt to bridge the cultural gap between what goes on inside the city and outside, festival director Galia Bador decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed, so to speak. The response was immediate proof of the necessity of such events. This year’s Docaviv Galilee Film Festival will span five days, with more than 30 documentaries, including several premieres of Israeli and foreign filmmakers.

The presence of Docaviv in the Galilee is thanks to the festival directors, as well as key individuals from Ma’alot Tarshiha, who insisted on events like this on their city’s annual calendar. Last year, for the first time, the city was awarded a prize for cultural activity from the Ministry of Culture and Sport.

In the words of its mayor, Shlomo Buhbut, “Ma’alot Tarshiha has become the capital of culture in the Galilee. The success of the Docaviv Galilee Film Festival and the fact that in November we will celebrate the fourth annual event is more proof that there is a broad community of cultural consumers in the periphery of Israel that is thirsty for quality.”

One major benefit of Docaviv Galilee is the inspiration it has provided for local community members. To honor the exploration of filmmaking in the North, the festival will hold a special event called Is It Possible to Create Films Far from the Center? A selection of student films will be shown, and a discussion will be held on the potential of creating cinema far from the hubbub of Tel Aviv.

In addition to bringing films to the North, the festival strives to get to know the character of the residents of Ma’alot Tarshiha. During the days of screenings, a cooking competition will be held for aspiring chefs to flaunt their best home recipes. Chefs Erez Komarovsky and Haviv Dowd will judge the output of the Galilee’s kitchens. The Wings Project, which assembles short films that capture the people who make up Ma’alot Tarshiha and the area, will also be featured on the program.

Of the 30 films to be shown, 20 are the work of Israeli directors. They include works featuring wellknown members of the Israeli cultural elite such as Assi Dayan, Alex Levac and Etgar Keret. From abroad, the festival will include First Position, a film about ballet competitions for children, and Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present.

Docaviv Galilee will take place from November 26-30.

For more information, visit www.docaviv.co.il.



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