What’s up, DocAviv?

Five-day int'l DocAviv Galilee Festival offers 35 documentary films and a host of other events and activities up North.

DocAviv, Children 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
DocAviv, Children 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It may be “way up north,” far away from where the cultural action is purported to be, in the center of the country, but next week’s DocAviv Galilee Festival has got plenty of bases covered.
For a start, the five-day documentary bash at Ma’alot Tarshiha has a 35 film lineup that is culled from practically every walk of life, mindset and energy level. There are stirring works, films that pose troubling questions about society, a blast or two from the past and a couple of music-based projects. Add to that an exhibition of graffiti photographs, documentary discussion panels, a children’s animation workshop, a workshop on how to present life to children from different backgrounds and a cooking competition featuring some of the traditional dishes regularly served up by local domestic gastronomy experts.
The film Skate of Mind is ostensibly about a bunch of youngsters hooked on skateboarding. They spend most of their waking hours on their skateboards, trying out various techniques and ever-more perilous stunts. When they’re not out on the street or in parks, they follow each other’s athletic antics on the computer. But at least one of the skateboarders has some other non-wheeled issues to deal with as the complexities of romance and family life converge. Skate of Mind is about youngsters setting out and trying to live life to the full, on wheels.
A veteran violinist and devoted teacher’s love of music comes through in every second of Alexander Gentelev’s delightful film Violinists. Anna Rosnovsky spent more than three decades earning a living as a member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Five years ago she upped from Tel Aviv and moved to the Galilee to teach children on a voluntary basis. Violinists follows the progress she makes with five very different children and her relentless search for new junior musical talent.
Elsewhere on the musical film front, Iraq n’ Roll tells the story of rock singer-guitarist Dudu Tasa and his remarkable family heritage. Tasa’s grandfather was an acclaimed Iraqi musician named Daoud el-Kuwaiti who, together with his brother Sallakh, were among the most well-known artists in the Arab world. Daoud forbade his children to be professional musicians, saying that it was a hard life full of pain. However, Tasa has become a leading light on the local rock scene. Iraq n’ Roll follows Tasa’s search for his musical roots.
Visitors to the North next week will also get to see two of the award-winning films from the main spring DocAviv Festival, which takes place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Free Improvisation centers on 61-yearold Tunisian-born Jerusalemite bass player, record producer and teacher Jean Claude Jones. He has been battling multiple sclerosis for some years now but continues to perform periodically and devotes some of his time to nurturing the talents of child prodigy pianist Ariel Lanyi.
The film that won the spring competition is Tzalmania – A Life in Stills. Anyone who has walked past Mograbi, at the corner of Tel Aviv’s Allenby and Ben- Yehuda streets, in the past 70 or so years would have noticed the famed photography store that was opened by Rudy Weissenstein. Czech-born Weissenstein came to Israel in 1936 with a camera and about $10 in his pocket. He went on to document many of the country’s major events and buildings, including the Declaration of Independence in 1948 and the first concert of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He also took portraits of leading public figures, and the enlargements of the prints adorned the store window until it was closed down by the Tel Aviv Municipality and relocated to Chernikovsky Street earlier this year.
Tzalmania – A Life in Stills is about Weissenstein’s legacy but also about the touching relationship between his nonagenarian widow Miriam and her grandson Ben and how they kept the store going. Miriam died at the age of 98 shortly after she and Ben were forced to vacate the original store.
Other films to watch out for at the DocAviv Galilee Festival include The Collaborator and His Family, about a former collaborator and his wife who have been stripped of their identity, and the price the children pay for their parents’ choices. Father’s Rights follows the struggle of four divorced men who decided to fight for the right to raise their children and established the first men’s organization in Israel that champions equal gender rights.
For more information about the DocAviv Galilee Festival: www.docaviv.co.il