In these days of point-and-shoot, when it seems as if virtually everyone has his
own blog or YouTube channel, it is a greater challenge than ever making sense
and creating memorable art out of all this footage. The organizers of the 13th
DocAviv Festival, which will take place from May 12 -21, have more to choose
from than ever before. The festival, which will screen dozens of film from
Israel and abroad, will take place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the Zionist
Organization of America (ZOA) building and the Tel Aviv Port.
opening-night film, Life in a Day, is arguably the most ambitious project ever
made out of footage shot by amateurs all around the world. Directed by Kevin
Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and produced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator),
this film is made up of entirely of video clips which were shot on July 24, 2010
(the date, appropriately, is 24/7). Macdonald received approximately 85,000
clips from nearly 200 countries (which ran over 4,500 hours) and edited them
down to a 90-minute film. The result is a sweeping portrait of the world on a
single day, full of haunting images and moving scenes.
segments are extremely scenic (there is footage shot on snow-covered mountains
and underwater, for example) others are more mundane, but not necessarily any
less effective. In one montage, people around the world are shown making
breakfast, having their morning coffee, and heading off to work. Another montage
shows people all over the world playing sports.
Some of the film is
devoted to a Korean traveling the world by bicycle, while a shoeshine man
walking the streets of a Third-World country also gets to share his story.
Sensitive viewers should be warned that there is a scene of cattle being killed
by a bolt gun. Sometimes the simplest scenes are the most intense. One woman
sits in her car just before the day ends, saying that she waited all day for
something fascinating to happen, but nothing did, so she just films herself
talking about her fears and dreams.
A great many of the films at DocAviv
this year, in all the categories, include this kind of simple,
In another high-profile film, there is the
Oscar-nominated documentary by the British stealth graffiti artist, Banksy, Exit
through the Gift Shop. The film takes a look at what happened when a French
storeowner and amateur video enthusiast decided to make a film about Banksy. The
Frenchman had no real intention of ever editing the footage he shot, so Banksy,
who guards his anonymity fiercely so he can never be prosecuted by the graffiti
and art he has painted in public places, turned tables and made a film
A very different kind of film event gives aspiring filmmakers a
chance to add their own voices to the festival. The Doc Challenge, in which
filmmakers have five days to create a short film on a particular theme, will be
held again this year. The finalists will be screened at the Tel Aviv Port during
LOCAL FILMMAKERS who have already made their films will be
front and center at one of Israel’s most anticipated film competitions. And many
of these films will focus on personal rather than political themes.
give intimate glimpses into family life. Jason Danino Holt’s Shanti, focuses on
the failed marriage of the filmmaker’s parents. When Holt goes to visit his
mother, who left his father after 22 years of marriage, at her new home, a hut
in the Sinai, he is forced to confront the reality of his parents’ relationship.
Tami and Jacob – My Parents, by Nir Horvitz, looks at the toll a father’s
struggle with Parkinson’s disease takes on his family.
While these films
focus on family, other films take their subjects from news
Sagi Bornstein’s Kafka’s Last Story follows the journey of
Kafka’s manuscripts from Prague to a damp apartment in Tel Aviv and the fight
over them which has recently made headlines.
But religion and politics
are always part of any film festival here.
Efrat Shalom Danon’s The
Dreamers looks at two ultra-Orthodox Israeli women who want to create cinema for
other women in their community.
Ronit Kerstner’s Torn examines the
unusual story of a Polish Catholic priest, who learned late in life that both
his parents were Jewish. He came to Israel and became Orthodox, and eventually
went to live on a kibbutz.
One of the highlights in the International
Competition is Amir Bar-Lev’s The Tillman Story. It reveals the controversy
behind the death of NFL star Pat Tillman, who left pro football to serve with
his brother in the US army in Afghanistan. When he died after being shot in
so-called friendly fire, the US military at first made it appear that he was
killed in a shootout with the Taliban, but the truth eventually came
The film, Arab Charm, directed by Andreas Horvath and Monika
Muskala, tells the unusual story of an Austrian professor, Barbara Walley, who
took a trip to Yemen and fell in love with her Yemenite guide. He was married
with six children, but persuaded her to become his second wife and to convert to
There also will be workshops on the future and boundaries of the
documentary genre and animated documentaries. Aspiring documentary filmmakers
have been invited to pitch their proposals to veteran filmmakers as Pitching
The foodoc event focuses on the market at the Tel Aviv Port and
features screenings of films that deal with food.
Doc Art is a special
program of international and Israeli films about the arts.
For details of
the schedules at the festival visit http://docaviv.co.il/
Those interested in
participating in the Doc Challenge can find out more at