Personal and political

The Blue and white films look strong at this year’s ‘Docaviv festival.’

The Buddhist and the cripple (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Buddhist and the cripple
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The renaissance in Israeli cinema is old news now, but the Israeli competition films at the 14th annual Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival will show off Israeli film at its most engaged and engaging.
This year’s festival, co-founded by Ilana Tsur, will run from May 3-12. Israeli and international films will be shown at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, ZOA House and the Port of Tel Aviv.
As in previous years, the Israeli offerings mix the personal and the political. While there are films with a strong political point of view, they examine this view through the lens of documentary artistry. Others focus on social, environmental and artistic stories.
Twelve films were selected for this year’s Israeli competition, out of 70 submissions, with a selection committee including Neta Dvorkis, editor (The Law in These Parts and Lone Samaritan); Sinai Abt, Docaviv artistic director; and Gabi Bibliovich, director (Medinat Hayehudim and Tel Aviv).
Thom Powers, a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival and a former Docaviv jury member wrote on the IndieWire blog: “The air of the festival has a political urgency and engagement lacking in more subdued cities. Whatever preconceptions you have of Israel, a visit to Doc Aviv will give you fresh perspectives.”
White Nights, directed by Irit Gal, should certainly bring a fresh perspective to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is about Palestinian cleaning women from the West Bank who sneak into Jerusalem at night and work to support their families. They must hide their activities from men in their lives who won’t allow them to work outside their homes and Israeli soldiers who want to arrest them because they don’t have work permits.
Yariv Mozer’s Underground Men looks at persecuted gay Palestinians who hide illegally in Tel Aviv after fleeing the territories. Some were caught and tortured by security forces, others were beaten and imprisoned by their families. Flight to Tel Aviv is the best option for them, and some have been living in Israel for years.
In One Day After Piece, Miri Laufer and Erez Laufer examine the question of whether the means used to resolve the conflict in South Africa work in Israel.
Robi Damelin was born in South Africa during the apartheid era; later on she lost her son during his service with the Israeli army. She embarked on a journey back to South Africa to learn more about the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established to overcome years of enmity. Damelin’s quest is moving and at times surprising.
In Cinema Jenin, director Marcus Wetter looks at what was once the biggest movie theater in the Palestinian territories. Founded in the ’60s, it has been abandoned.
A group of Palestinians and Germans come together to rebuild it, and their different perspectives on the issues involved make for some thought-provoking discussions, as well as comic moments.
Eyal Goldberg’s Powder is about a soldier who keeps getting called for reserve duty as he struggles to cope with death and illness in his family.
A different personal dilemma is the focus of Noam Pinchas’ The Buddhist and the Cripple, about a former kibbutznik who returns to his childhood home to help his old friend, who has become a disabled recluse.
Reuven Brodsky’s Home Movie looks at the breakdown of the director’s family, which gravitates toward an apartment in Jerusalem where they set down roots. The film explores their decision to sell the place or repair it.
Child abuse is the focus of several of the films. Amit Goren’s Dangerous Children looks at Beit Noam, a treatment center whose mission is to rehabilitate men who have been violent toward their children and spouses. Yael Sherer’s Dirty Laundry is about the filmmaker’s struggle to come to terms with her family after her father served a prison sentence for sexually abusing her.
Dan and Noit Geva’s Noise looks at the tribulations of a Tel Aviv resident with a strong aversion to loud noise.
In But Why Did You Dance Naked?, Zohar Wagner investigates video cassettes filmed many years ago in New York that suddenly turn up in a couple’s home.
Omer Yafman’s All Happy Mornings is an examination of a bisexual’s life and relationship with his family in Tel Aviv’s Bohemian rock scene.
For more information, go to the festival’s website at