By HANNAH BROWN
People may think of documentary films as dour and depressing, but this year's lineup at DocAviv in Tel Aviv, is anything but.
DocAviv, the international documentary festival that begins May 3 (and runs
through May 12) at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city is
a showcase for the best recent documentaries – but it’s more than that. In its
14-year history, it has become a place for Israeli filmmakers and film students
to meet and exchange ideas with international directors and producers, as well
as with viewers. There are a host of events associated with the festival, and
most are open to the general public.
These events – both formal and
informal – take their flavor from the atmosphere of the city. On the informal
side are the DocAviv Hangouts, which take place at bars throughout the city
every night during the festival, starting at 10 p.m. The first of these is at
Downtown Piano Bar on Levontin Street, while on the closing night of the
festival, there will be a Hangout/Closing Party at the Har Sinai Bar on Har
Tel Aviv is known around the world for its nightlife, some
of which is centered in the port area.
A series of films about music will
shown at the Tel Aviv Port, all of them about music. These outdoor screenings
will be hosted by DJs. The films to be shown are Marley, a portrait of reggae
artist Bob Marley; Under African Skies, a film about a tribute concert performed
by Paul Simon and African musicians to mark over two decades of collaboration;
Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Group Called Quest, about an
influential hip-hop group; and From the Sky Down, a look at the making of the U2
album Achtung, Baby, which is the latest film by Davis Guggenheim, who made the
Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth.
The winners of the fourth
DocuChallenge will also be announced at the port, on the evening of May
DocuChallenge is an international film project, a competition for
making short documentaries on a given subject in a limited time span.
Participating filmmakers have only five days to create a documentary film
between four and seven minutes long. This year’s theme – which was announced on
April 29, is “Foreign Body.” The 12-15 filmmakers chosen work on their films in
parallel and submit them on the appointed day and time. For the first time, this
year all the films will be produced in high definition.
DocuChallenge is just one of the festival competitions. There are also
competitions for the Best International Documentary, the Best Israeli
Documentary, the Best Student Documentary.
As always, a pitching session
will be part of the program, as filmmakers working on projects present their
ideas to representatives of the film funds. There will also be a program
entitled Docu Agenda, a program for aspiring documentary filmmakers run by
representatives of the film funds and NGOs, on how to use the documentary medium
as a tool for change. US documentary consultant and author Morrie Warshawski
will be present to work with the participants.
The Docu Challenge charges
a fee and registration is required.
In honor of Tel Aviv Arts Year, there
will be a number of guest speakers discussing the many films in the festival
that focus on the arts. Among the lecturers will be Sergio Edelstein, curator
and director of the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, who will give
audiences some perspective on the film, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.
Bill Cunningham New York, the acclaimed and very entertaining documentary about
the eccentric and brilliant fashion photographer, will be the subject of a
lecture by Eyal de Leeuw, co-writer of the blog Ha-Garçonnière and head of
external relations for Mediatheque Holon.
DocAviv will also feature the
sixth Art:21 series, which is dedicated to the themes and ideas that shape the
field of contemporary art. The series introduces the viewer to 13 leading
artists, as they reveal the influences, ideas and techniques underlying their
The Video Art, Privatized Ideologies program presents four works
that are both documentaries and video art. Award-winning composer Gil Talmi will
host a workshop on music for documentaries.
To find out more about the
programs and to purchase tickets, go the festival website at www.docaviv.co.il