24th Docaviv to present best documentaries from around the world

The festival mixes screenings at theaters with events all over the city and offers special events such as masterclasses with filmmakers. 

 SINEAD O’CONNOR in ‘Nothing Compares.’  (photo credit: ANDREW CATLIN)
SINEAD O’CONNOR in ‘Nothing Compares.’
(photo credit: ANDREW CATLIN)

The saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” but it is also very often much more interesting, and for the 24th year, Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Festival, will be proving that again. 

This year’s festival, taking place May 26-June 5 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the Tel Aviv Museum, Beit Romano and other locations around the city, has announced its international lineup and it looks to be one of the festival’s most diverse years ever. 

The festival mixes screenings at theaters with events all over the city and offers special events such as masterclasses with filmmakers. 

Thanks to the relaxing of pandemic restrictions, there will be a number of guests from abroad this year. 

Among these will be Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the directing duo who made RBG, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary. They will be presenting three new films: My Name is Pauli Murray, the story of a non-binary black lawyer, activist and poet, who influenced Ginsburg; Julia, a portrait of Julia Child, the American who popularized French cooking around the world and created the foodie ethos that has become a staple of popular culture; and Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, a look at the courageous US congresswoman who survived a horrific shooting. 

 ‘THREE MINUTES: A Lengthening.’ (credit: COURTESY US HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM) ‘THREE MINUTES: A Lengthening.’ (credit: COURTESY US HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM)

Nina Menkes is bringing her film, Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power, a look at cinematic shot design, featuring examples from dozens of movies made spanning more than a century, and how this design influences the epidemics of sexual abuse/assault and employment discrimination against women. 

Ruth Beckermann will present Mutzenbacher, a provocative look at the casting couch and a pornographic text. Yuri Ancarani’s latest movie, Atlantis, is a look at an introverted man who lives on the shore of the Venice lagoon, and he will be on hand to talk about his work. 

Sergey Loznitsa, who has made dozens of acclaimed feature films and documentaries, including last year’s Babi Yar. Context, will present his latest movie, Mr. Landsbergis. This film looks at the years in the late ’80s and early ’90s when Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union, in the so-called “Singing Revolution,” and it won the top prize at IDFA, the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival, in 2021. 

 JULIA CHILD (credit: COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS/JIM SCHERER) JULIA CHILD (credit: COURTESY SONY PICTURES CLASSICS/JIM SCHERER)

For the first time this year, Docaviv and Yad Vashem will present a prize for cinematic excellence in a documentary on the Holocaust, which carries a cash prize, and this year the winner will be Bianca Stigter’s Three Minutes: A Lengthening

This film, which is narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, presents a home movie shot by David Kurtz in 1938 in a Jewish town in Poland. The three minutes of footage, mostly in color, are the only moving images left of the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk before the Holocaust. The existing three minutes are examined to unravel the hidden stories, with commentary by, among others, Glenn Kurtz, grandson of David Kurtz, and Maurice Chandler, who appears in the film as a boy. The award will be presented at a screening attended by the film’s creators. 

Other special programs will include a focus on Ukrainian documentary cinema, with films that illuminate the current war, and a special program of films spotlighting human rights will be presented in collaboration with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Many films about the arts, particularly music, will be shown in the festival, including Edward Lachman’s Songs for Drella, which captures a concert by Lou Reed and John Cale in memory of Andy Warhol, and Nothing Compares, Kathryn Ferguson’s look at the life and work of iconoclastic singer Sinead O’Connor.

The Israeli lineup was announced previously and it showcases the diversity of the Israeli documentary scene, where some concentrate on political cinema, while others choose to tell personal stories and still others focus on the arts, history and international issues. 

Ran Tal, one of Israel’s most distinguished filmmakers, has a new film in the Israeli competition, 1341 Frames of Love and War, a portrait of legendary Israeli photographer Micha Bar-Am. 

Idit Avrahami and Noam Sheizaf’s H2: The Occupation Lab examines the Arab-Israeli conflict through a look at one street in Hebron. Yariv Mozer’s The Devil Speaks: Eichmann’s Lost Confession reveals an interview the architect of the “Final Solution” conducted with an Israeli journalist. 

The full lineup will be announced on May 2. Details and tickets will be available at the festival website at https://www.docaviv.co.il/