Docaviv proves that truth is stranger than fiction

‘DIG!’ (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
The 2016 Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival, which will take place from May 19 to 28 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city, has a varied program of movies and special events, plus distinguished guests from Israel and abroad. New World Disorder is the theme. This year’s documentaries deal with issues that have shaped the world in the past few years, such as the widening gap between rich and poor and the migrant crisis.
Docaviv features all kinds of special events, including master classes, discussions and outdoor screenings all over the city. The festival guests include award- winning director Ondi Timoner, who will be attending the Israeli premiere of her film Brand: A Second Coming . The film follows comedian Russell Brand’s spiritual journey from addict and Hollywood star to self-proclaimed revolutionary. Timoner’s film Dig! , which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, will be among the music documentaries screened at the Tel Aviv Port. In conjunction with the Film Department of Beit Berl College, Timoner will conduct a master class for aspiring filmmakers, students and professionals.
This year’s festival will feature a tribute to acclaimed Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter, who will be attending the festival with his recent film, Homo Sapiens . The movie features stunning images of places constructed and then abandoned. The program for this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, where the film premiered, said, “It is science fiction and documentary in equal measure, equal parts contemporary and post-apocalyptic.” This year’s festival will also include two of his previous films, Our Daily Bread , about the food industry, and Abendland , a look at what happens in Europe at night. The international jury members participating in the festival include Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen, director of the IDFA industry office; Gary Kam, producer of Planet of Snail ; film director Alma Har’el ( Bombay Beach and LoveTrue ); Nilotpal Majumdar, director of Docedge Kolkata ; Sascha Lara Bleuler, director of the Human Rights Film Festival in Zurich; and film director Tatiana Brandrup.
The festival will open with the Israeli film Babylon Dreamers by Roman Shumunov. It tells the story of a breakdance troupe of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who live in one of Ashdod’s poorest neighborhoods.
The festival will consist of competitions for Israeli, international and student films, as well as a category for Depth of Field for films with particularly original concepts. The International Competition features films on a wide variety of subjects and made in different styles. These include Pietra Brettkelly’s A Flickering Truth , which looks at the wreckage of the Afghan Film Archives, where old film reels that contain glimpses of the county’s cultural heritage can still be found.
Brothers is a film Norwegian director Aslaug Holm made about her two sons’ lives as children, a kind of real- life Boyhood . Keep Quiet , directed by Sam Blair and Joseph Martin, tells the story of Csanád Szegedi, a leader of Hungary’s radical right, who was famous for his anti-Semitic rhetoric. He was shocked to learn that his family was Jewish and that his grandmother was a survivor of Auschwitz. With his world falling apart, he reached out to a rabbi. Vitaly Mansky’s Under the Sun looks into the rarely seen world of North Korea. Mansky went there ostensibly to shoot a short documentary about a girl and her family, but the movie shows the bizarre micromanaging by government operatives and reveals the truth behind the propaganda. Some 70 Israeli films produced over the last year were submitted, out of which 13 films were selected for the Israeli Competition. They will be competing for the largest cash prize for documentary filmmaking in Israel, NIS 70,000. Other awards in the competition include the Mayor’s Prize for the Most Promising Filmmaker, the Prize for Editing, the Prize for Cinematography, the Prize for Research and the Prize for Original Score.
The jurors for this competition include director Dror Moreh, who made the Oscar-nominated The Gatekeepers ; director and producer Barak Heymann, whose latest film is Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? ; director Robby Elmaliah; producer Elinor Kowarsky; photographer David Adika; and film editor Tal Rabiner.
Alon Schwarz’s Aida’s Secrets is about two brothers who were born in a displaced persons camp after World War II and were separated as babies. An investigation into the mysterious history of their birth family led to an amazing reunion after six decades. The film offers a rare glimpse into the displaced persons camps in post World War II Germany.
Yael Kipper Ronen Zaretzky’s Child Mother tells the story of Mizrahi women forced to become brides when they were still children themselves. Town on a Wire by Uri Rosenwaks and Eyal Blachson examines the poverty and conflict in crime-ridden Lod. This year, there is a new category, the Masters Section, with works by world-famous directors. The Masters Section includes Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea ( Foucammare ), a look at the residents of the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa and the hundreds of thousands of migrants that land on its shores; Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine , an in-depth and sometimes unflattering portrait of the tech entrepreneur, by Alex Gibney; and He Named Me Malala , by Davis Guggenheim, who directed An Inconvenient Truth , is about the life of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was attacked by the Taliban and became a women’s education advocate and won the Nobel Peace Prize.
There are also programs on art and music. Among these are Ross Adam and Robert Cannan’s The Lovers and the Despot , about a divorced South Korean couple – a famous director and a movie star – who were kidnapped by the North Koreans and forced to make films together there; and Stevan Riley’s Listen to Me Marlon , which features recordings made by Marlon Brando.
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