Fully documented

Tel Aviv’s DocAviv film festival includes a portrait of the world on a single day.

documentary 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
documentary 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We may all feel like documentary filmmakers now that everyone is shooting video with their phones, but to make a great documentary takes more skill than just pointing and shooting. The art of the documentary will be celebrated at the 13th DocAviv Festival, which will take place from May 12 -21. It will feature dozens of films, from Israel and abroad, which will be screened at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) building and the Tel Aviv Port.
The festival will open with the Israeli premiere of the documentary Life in a Day. Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and produced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator), this film is made up entirely of video clips sent in from around the world that were shot on July 24, 2010 (the date, appropriately, is 24/7). Macdonald received approximately 85,000 clips from nearly 200 countries (which ran more than 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.
Other high-profile films include the Oscar-nominated documentary by the British stealth graffiti artist Banksy, Exit through the Gift Shop.
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’ films will be screened at the Tel Aviv Port during the festival.
There 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 Event.
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.
Of all the film festival contests in Israel, the Israeli Competition at DocAviv is always one of the most closely watched. As usual, the offerings are wide-ranging and cannot be narrowly defined. Efrat Shalom Danon’s The Dreamers looks at two Israeli haredi women who want to create cinema for other women in their community.
Avishai Sivan is known for his feature film The Wanderer, but here he presents the documentary The Uzbek Trilogy, about the lives of three Bukharan men in his family.
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 that has recently made headlines.
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.
Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash’s Far focuses on the bleak and complicated life of the family of a Palestinian who collaborated with Israel and has moved to Tel Aviv.
The offerings in the International Competition are also extremely varied. Amir Bar-Lev’s The Tillman Story 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 out.
While the world has been transfixed by the Arab Spring, events in Africa are often equally turbulent and actor Jarreth Merz’s film An African Election looks at the behind-the-scenes electioneering in Ghana, Merz’s boyhood home.
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 Islam.
Many of the films and events will sell out, so buy your tickets ahead of time. You can get details of the schedules at the festival website at http://docaviv.co.il/ Those interested in participating in the Doc Challenge can find the details at www.docchallenge.co.il.