Stronger than fiction.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
They say that truth is stranger than fiction and, as documentaries have
shown, it’s often a lot more interesting. As the documentary has become arguably
the most vital cinematic form today, DocAviv, the documentary festival at the
Tel Aviv Cinematheque, which runs from May 2-11, is one of the hottest tickets
The festival features dozens of films from Israel and around
the world. There are Israeli and International Competitions, as well as
student films, contests, classes and other special events.
American documentary director Alan Berliner is a special guest this year. His
latest film, First Cousin Once Removed , a portrait of his rela- tive, a poet
suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, will be screened at the festi- val. Berliner
often looks to himself and his family as the subjects of his films, and his
previous movies Intimate Stranger and Nobody’s Business will be shown as well.
He will give a master class on the topic of how to conduct interviews for
Other guests from abroad include Caroline Libresco, a
veteran program- mer from the Sundance Film Festival; Christine Camdessus, the
owner of a production company that helped make 5 Broken Cameras , one of the
films from Israel that was nominated for an Oscar this year; Claudia Lands-
berger, the director of the Dutch film institute EYE International; and Maria
Bosanti, the creative director of the Cinema Du Reel Festival in
Special events include the Art and Citizenship series, in which
several films that examine these issues from all over the world will be
One of the most popular events at the festival is the series
entitled DocAviv at the Port of Tel Aviv. These free screenings of
music-related films are accompanied by live musical performances and DJs. The
opening film in this series is The Rolling Stones – Charlie is My Darling –
, which features rare early concert footage of the
This is the fifth year of the Doc Challenge, in which ambitious
and quick-witted filmmakers have just five days to make a four- to seven-minute
film on a given subject.
The films in the International Competition are
as varied as the Israeli movies. Dutch-Israeli director Esther Hertog’s Soldier
on the Roof
had been chosen for the competition, even though it is about Israel.
Hertog became fascinated by the motivations of the Israeli settlers in Hebron.
She went to live among the approximately 800 Jews who make their home among the
120,000 Palestinians in that city. Through interviews and film of their daily
lives, a portrait of these Jews emerges.
Marc Wiese’s Camp 14 – Total
Control Zone couldn’t be more topical. It’s about a North Korean who was raised
as a political prisoner his entire life. He was born in a North Korean prison
camp to two political prisoners and eventually managed to escape. The film
features his artwork depicting scenes in the camp and follows his struggle to
adjust to his new life.
There are several other intriguing documentaries
from Asia. The Act of Killing
, by US director Joshua Oppenheimer, is a
look at Indonesians who were accused of atrocities in the military coup 50
years ago. The director convinces them to write movie scripts and appear in
films dramatizing their crimes, and they agree.
Martin Otter’s The
Absence of Shadow
is about a Vietnamese writer who went blind as a child as
the result of wounds he suffered during the Vietnam War.Blood Brother
, directed by Steve Hoover, is the story of an American backpacker who visited
India, got to know a group of HIV-infected children there, and decided to devote
his life to them.
This year’s Best Documentary Oscar winner, Searching
, mesmerized audiences by showing them a unique, surprising story
they would never have heard about otherwise, and several of the other
International Competition entries do just that. Bart Layton’s Imposter
story, full of twists and turns, about a Frenchman who claims to be a Texan boy
who disappeared years ago.Tchoupitoulas,
directed by Bill Ross IV and
Turner Ross, is about three young brothers who wander the streets of New Orleans
at night and discover a fantasy world. It’s an eclectic portrait of one of the
world’s most fascinating cities.To find out more about the festival and
to purchase tickets, go to www.docaviv.co.il.