Go north for quality documentaries at Docaviv Galilee film festival

More than 30 films will be shown during this festival, including both Israeli and international documentaries.

 'Becoming Cousteau' at Docaviv Galilee. (photo credit: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)
'Becoming Cousteau' at Docaviv Galilee.
(photo credit: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

Now in its 13th edition, Docaviv Galilee is back from November 3-6 with in-person screenings in its home, the town of Ma’alot Tarshiha. Many of the documentaries will also be available for streaming on the Docaviv website.

More than 30 films will be shown during this festival, including both Israeli and international documentaries.

Two new much-anticipated National Geographic documentaries will have premiere screenings at the festival. The Rescue, by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, the directing duo who won an Oscar for Free Solo, is about the harrowing and ultimately triumphant rescue of a group of boys and their soccer coach who got trapped in a cave in Northern Thailand in 2018. The world watched in suspense as a group of divers found the boys alive and then managed to get them out safely. While we all know the happy end of the story, watching it play out is fascinating and will likely set your pulse racing.

The second National Geographic premiere is by Liz Garbus, one of the most talented and versatile documentary directors working today, who has made such acclaimed and varied documentaries as The Farm: Angola, USA and Bobby Fischer Against the World. She has made a new film, Becoming Cousteau. It tells the story of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French diver who popularized undersea exploration and became a pioneering environmentalist, a man very much ahead of his time in terms of recognizing the need to protect the oceans from pollution.

Another movie that has won praise for its stunning visuals, Dark Red Forest by Jin Huaqing, looks at the annual retreat of thousands of Tibetan nuns to small houses in the Tibetan Plateau.

 'The Rescue' at Docaviv Galilee. (credit: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC) 'The Rescue' at Docaviv Galilee. (credit: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

The festival’s international program includes some of this year’s most talked-about documentaries, including Flee, an animated film about an Afghan refugee that has won awards all over the world; The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, a portrait of a shy 15-year-old whose life changed completely when he starred in the film, Death in Venice; and Imad’s Childhood, the story of a four-year-old Yazidi boy recovering and healing from two-and-a-half years in ISIS captivity.

The Truffle Hunters tells the story of eccentrics who gather rare truffles deep in the forests of Italy. To complement the film, viewers will be able to take a guided culinary tour of an organic hydroponic farm and an exotic mushroom farm, both located in the western Galilee.

The festival will open with a premiere of Project Knafayim (Wings), four films by filmmakers from Ma’alot Tarshiha, made at the Docaviv Galilee and Apter Barrer Art Center filmmaking workshop and supported by The Rabinovich Foundation. The workshop is mentored by filmmakers Yael Kipper and Ronen Zaretzky.

This year’s closing film is Yuval Hameiri’s That Orchestra with the Broken Instruments, in which a conductor, three composers and 100 musicians prepare for an unusual concert by rehearsing a symphony for broken instruments.

AMONG THE Israeli films this year will be Portrait, a movie by Yael Kipper and Ronen Zaretzky, which won the Best Israeli Documentary Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival. This film is a portrait of Kifaya Ayati, an artist and activist who survived domestic violence and now paints others who have also been victims, and highlights the urgent need to protect people from violent family members. Kipper and Zaretzky have made a number of other acclaimed documentaries, including One Hundred Percent and The Three Yossi.

Several films that were popular at Docaviv this spring will be shown, including Queen Shoshana by Kobi Farag and Morris Ben-Mayor, about the Israeli diva Shoshana Damari; On This Happy Note by Tamar Tal Anati, about the life and death of playwright Anat Gov; and I Am Not by Tomer Heymann, which won the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards at Docaviv.

Noa Aharoni’s Not a Word of Truth, about the rise and fall of Israel’s first psychology guru, Dr. Rudy, and the controversial psychoanalytic institute he founded, will be shown. There will also be two films that were developed in the DocLabTLV, Docaviv’s rough-cut lab: Anna Somershaf’s Women of Valor, which follows Esty Shushan, who fights for the right of ultra-Orthodox women to be politicians and pays a heavy price for her activism; and Razzouk Tattoo, about the dark secrets of an ancient lineage of Christian tattoo artists from the Old City of Jerusalem.

Also playing at the festival is a program of films by and about people with disabilities, called Born to Be Free, which will be screened at Ma’arag Center in Kfar Vradim: A Reason to Live by Arik Alon, Jonathan Levin, and Adva Levi, which shows the unique point of view of a disabled war veteran trapped inside his paralyzed and intubated body; and A Home of My Own, in which Hodaya, who has cerebral palsy, becomes independent for the first time at 34 and tries to find herself a home.

The festival will continue the tradition of hosting a seminar for film students. Held in partnership with the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum, this year’s seminar will revolve around documentary research. The seminar will feature an online screening of Blue Boxi, winner of the Research Award at Docaviv 2021, followed by a Q&A with Michal Weits, Lily Yudinsky, and Lee Rotbart, who did the research for the film. The session will be hosted by Hagit Ben-Yaakov, archive researcher and chairwoman of the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum.

As it does each year, the festival offers film screenings for the students of Ma’alot Tarshiha’s schools (from elementary schools to high schools). The films include Anan Barakat’s Gangster Chocolate, which follows a recovered drug addict who uses his story to help others; Arthur Abramov’s Hot Blood, about a boy and a girl determined to make their dreams come true and become kickboxing champions despite their families’ objections; and two short films – both premieres – about children around the world.

Galia Bador is the festival director.

For more information, visit the festival website at docaviv.co.il/org-en.