Last week, it was the 50th anniversary of the night The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. YES Docu and YES V.O.D. have gotten into the spirit by programming a week of documentaries about music, from February 16 to 22. These films focus on both Israeli and international musicians.
Shmulik Kraus was one of Israel’s most gifted popular musicians. A documentary entitled Shmulik Kraus: Behind Blue Eyes, on his life and work, will be shown on February 19 at 9 p.m. and on February 22 at 10:30 p.m.
Kraus was a songwriter and singer who was a pioneer of Israeli rock music. Along with his wife, American-born singer Josie Katz, and Arik Einstein, he founded the much-loved group The High Windows. They were known for such hits as “Yehezkel” and created a template for other aspiring Israeli rockers to follow. He also wrote songs for many artists, such as “When You Cry, You’re Not Pretty” for Einstein. But Kraus suffered from drug addiction and became violent at times, threatening and abusing his wife, who divorced him. Katz’s life was the subject of the 2010 documentary All Is Well by Me.
Kraus was hospitalized in mental institutions and passed away a year ago. His life story is quite sad at times but makes for fascinating viewing.
On February 16 at 10 p.m., YES Docu will broadcast Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America (it will be aired again on February 21 at 9:30 p.m.). Sosa was one of the founders of the New Song (Nueva Cancion) movement in her native Argentina and throughout the Spanishspeaking world. This documentary details her life and music and features an interview with her son.
For those who love Broadway musicals, there are two documentaries scheduled. Six by Sondheim is a 2013 documentary by James Lapine about the legendary composer-lyricist. It includes filmed performances of his work and interviews with artists who have worked with him, as well as with the Sondheim himself. Among the featured performers/interviewees are Barbra Streisand, Barbara Barrie, Darren Criss (Glee), Glenn Close, Judi Dench, Hugh Jackman, America Ferrera, Angela Lansbury, Gypsy Rose Lee, Audra McDonald, Ethel Merman, Bette Midler, Mandy Patinkin and Frank Sinatra. Six by Sondheim will be broadcast on February 17 at 10 p.m.
Broadway Idiot, which will be shown on February 18 at 10 p.m., is a look at punk rocker Billie Joe Armstrong, the front man of the band Green Day, and how he brought his album, American Idiot, to Broadway in collaboration with director Michael Mayer.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival, which celebrates independent film, has just ended, with an audience award for the Israeli documentary The Green Prince, directed by Nadav Schirman. Television viewers in Israel will have to wait to see this film, but Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary The Law in These Parts, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema – Documentary category in 2012, will be broadcast on Channel 1 on February 23 at 9 p.m. and on Channel 511, the HD channel. The Law in These Parts is similar in some respects to the acclaimed documentary The Gatekeepers by Dror Moreh, which featured in-depth interviews with former heads of the Mossad. The Law in These Parts consists of interviews with judges who preside over the military courts in the West Bank, as well as lawyers and others involved in the judicial process. The film is a history of military legal rule on the West Bank, and the judges and others involved answer and often pose tough questions – ones that are rarely asked or answered on camera. Former Supreme Court president and retired brigadiergeneral Meir Shamgar is one of the most thought-provoking of the interviewees.