Solidarity Film Festival focuses on human rights

The festival will present dozens of international and Israeli films, mainly documentaries but also including feature films, among them movies that have premiered at film festivals around the world.

 ‘THE NEW Greatness Case’ by Anna Shishova (photo credit: Solidarity Film Festival)
‘THE NEW Greatness Case’ by Anna Shishova
(photo credit: Solidarity Film Festival)

The Solidarity Human Rights Film Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, which features moving and thought-provoking films that spotlight the worldwide struggle for freedom, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year December 1-10.

The festival will present dozens of international and Israeli films, mainly documentaries but also including feature films, among them movies that have premiered at film festivals around the world and have won awards. In addition, there will be meetings with directors, panel discussions, lectures by academics on topics connected to the films, master classes and other special events.

The festival is organized in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and is held with the support of the Tel Aviv Municipality, the New Israel Fund, the Goethe Institute and the MAZON organization. The Civil Rights Association, B’Tselem and the Shulamit Aloni Prize are among the many groups from Israel and the world involved in organizing the event.

The films in the festival deal with sometimes shocking human stories of all kinds of people, in Israel and around the world, including athletes, musicians, journalists, members of the LGBT community, refugees, migrants and all kinds of ordinary people swept up in events beyond their control.

The founder and director of the festival, Dani Vilanski, and the artistic director, Gidi Avivi, said in a statement: “A significant number of the international feature and documentary films that we chose to present at the festival will be screened for the first time in Israel, including the film Klondike, Ukraine’s nominee for the Academy Award.

Others have been shown at festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Tribeca, Karlovy Vary, Munich and Locarno... [Documentary films] that will be screened at the festival received their first exposure and attention in dedicated festivals, including: Hot Docs, Sheffield Doc Fest, CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel, DOC NYC, DOC Leipzig, IDFA and others.”

In the Israeli program of the festival, there will be competitions for young creators, student films and short films.

THE OPENING-NIGHT film will be The New Greatness Case, by Anna Shishova, a look at how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence services infiltrated the social media and group chats of young people in Russia and imprisoned several of them.

It spotlights the harsh reality of the Russian government’s lack of tolerance for dissent.

East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem

One of the guests of honor at the festival will be the musician David Broza, who will attend a screening of East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem.

After this film was shown at festivals around the world, it was streamed exclusively on Netflix, and is now returning to the big screen.

The film, directed by Erez Miller and Henrique Cymerman, documents eight days of recordings and meetings with Broza in a Palestinian recording studio in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem with Israeli, Palestinian and American musicians.

The festival will feature tributes to two acclaimed Israeli directors, Udi Aloni and Yulie Cohen.

Cohen has made a number of documentaries that take autobiographical elements in her life and use them to explore larger issues.

Among her films that will be presented in the festival is My Brother, a look at her relationship with a brother who has turned his back on their secular heritage and chosen to become ultra-Orthodox, and it will be shown with a panel discussion.

Other films by Cohen will include, My Terrorist, a look at her efforts to free a terrorist convicted of an attack in which she was one of the hostages when she was an El Al flight attendant.

In tribute to Aloni, his film Why are we Americans? will have its Israeli premiere. It is an in-depth cinematic investigation of Newark’s legendary Baraka family, whose patriarch is Amiri Baraka, one of the greatest African-American poets.

From the protests of 1967 to the present, the movie examines the complex story of the family against a backdrop of the tumultuous history of Newark.

Other films in tribute to Aloni will be Left, Local Angel, Kashmir: The Road to Freedom and Art/Violence.There will also be a world premiere screening of the Israeli feature film Sand Flakes directed by Gitit Kabiri and Yahel Kabiri, starring Shani Cohen, Yossi Marshek, Ori Pfeffer, Lucy Aharish, Yonatan Lahav Weisberg and Shiraz Edri.

It tells the story of a young, sensitive boy in Dimona whose mother has MS and whose father is an Arab contractor. The boy publishes stories supposedly about his family on a website as though he is an Ashkenazi from a wealthy suburb, and eventually gets himself in a complex predicament that focuses attention on his hardships.

In addition, the Israeli documentary films Longing, directed by Dr. Malka Shabtai, and A Safe Place, by Noemi Biegeleisen, will have their premieres at the festival.

Kaepernick & America, directed by Ross Hockrow and Tommy Walker, looks at the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his controversial decision to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem before games to demonstrate his opposition to police brutality.

Alison Millar’s Lyra is a portrait of investigative journalist Lyra McKee of Northern Ireland.

The Afghan film Melting Dreams, by Haidy Kancler, tells the story of three Afghan girls who dream of becoming professional skiers and representing their country in the Olympic Games. They are convinced that in Europe they will be able to train and fulfill their dreams, but even after they arrive on the continent, they face prejudices and deep cultural gaps.

Raj Patel and Zak Piper’s The Ants and the Grasshopper looks at Anita Chitaya, a social activist from Malawi, East Africa, who is fighting to achieve gender equality in her country and to find solutions to the harms of the climate crisis. To promote the change, she travels to the United States in an effort to convince farmers that the climate crisis is real, and that its consequences are destructive.

Anita’s journey from Malawi to California and from there to the White House brings her up close and personal with the gaps and controversies of the United States – from the gap between the big cities and the small towns to the divisions between race, class and gender.

Klondike, a feature film from Ukraine, is set in 2014, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and invaded two districts in the east of the country.

Residents of one Ukrainian village near the border were subjected to incessant bombing, and Irka, a woman in an advanced stage of pregnancy, is trapped in the shelling area alongside her husband, Tulik. They refuse to evacuate, and he resists pressure to join pro-Russian forces there.

For more information and to order tickets, go to the Tel Aviv Cinematheque website at