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Truth is more alluring fiction
By HANNAH BROWN
04/24/2014
The Docaviv festival celebrates its 16th anniversary.
 
The 16th Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Festival, which runs from May 8 to 17 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city, features a program so rich and varied that it leaves no doubt that the documentary is the most interesting genre of movies.

There will be screenings all over Tel Aviv, several competitions, and special events throughout the festival. Docaviv is organized by Docaviv-NPO for the Promotion of Documentary Film.

This year’s Israeli competition is especially strong. The openingnight film will be veteran Israeli director Julie Shles’s Last Stop, a look at the violent labyrinth around the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.

It’s a neighborhood where new refugees from all over the Third World, children of migrant workers with no real national identity, and impoverished Israelis who feel they are being pushed out of their own community interact and often come into conflict.

Nadav Schirman’s The Green Prince, the incredible true story of one of the Shin Bet’s senior sources who served as an informant on Hamas for decades, won the coveted Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. One of Israel’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, Schirman also made the acclaimed documentaries The Champagne Spy and In the Dark Room. Simon Chinn, one of the producers of The Green Prince, will be one of the festival’s special guests. Chinn also produced the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugar Man and Man on a Wire.

Many sides of Israeli society, including but not limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are highlighted by the Docaviv films.

Paz Schwartz’s Unexpected Love deals with the bizarre story of a teenage girl who falsely accused a man of molesting her, recanted after he was imprisoned, and ultimately ended up marrying him.

Dan Bronfeld’s Mountain Men is a look at the Palestinian laborers who dig graves in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot cemetery.

Nitzan Ofir’s Almost Friends looks at a friendship that develops between two girls, one Israeli and one Palestinian.

Several of this year’s Israeli films are concerned with art and culture.

Yair Qedar’s Bialik – King of the Jews is a look at one of the Jewish world’s most beloved poets, through rare archival materials, special animations, interviews and poems performed by singer Ninet Tayeb, with narration by Chaim Topol.

My Father Yaakov Shabtai is a film by the late writer’s illegitimate daughter, Noa Shabtai, and how she tried to find out everything she could about him after his death.

Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin’s Write Down, I Am an Arab is a portrait of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish. Avida Livni’s A Bag of Sentiments – Kaveret’s Farewell Tour is a look at the reunion of one of Israel’s most beloved bands last summer.

Among the much-anticipated international films at Docaviv this year is Twenty Feet from Stardom, the Oscar-winning look at backup singers, directed by Morgan Neville.

The winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary Short, The Lady in Number 6 by Malcolm Clarke, tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, a vibrant 109-yearold pianist and Holocaust survivor living in North London.

One of the most buzzed-about international films is Charlie Siskel and John Maloof’s Finding Vivian Maier, about a strange, introverted nanny, now considered one of the great photographers of the 20th century, who snapped pictures and kept them in boxes in her room.

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei is always in the news, but the movie Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case by Andreas Johnsen is a look at the man behind the headlines.

The famous Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon, about a man who robbed a bank in Brooklyn to get the money to buy his gay lover a sex change operation, was based on a true story. The real man who inspired the movie is the subject of The Dog by Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren.

The winner of the Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, The Circle by Stefan Haupt, tells the story of the first same-sex couple to marry in Switzerland, a shy reserved music teacher and a drag cabaret performer who have been together for more than 60 years.

For more information about the festival and to order tickets, go to http://www.docaviv.co.il/2014-en/.

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