Tel Aviv documentary festival Docaviv 2020 goes online

The festival will open on September 2 with the premiere of Gad Aisen’s Rockfour: The Time Machine, the story of one of Israel’s most important bands for the past 30 years.

The Mole Agent (photo credit: PABLOS VALDES)
The Mole Agent
(photo credit: PABLOS VALDES)
This year of the pandemic has been playing out like a fascinating, frightening and occasionally funny documentary, and it’s a perfect time to celebrate documentary filmmaking, so it’s good news that Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Festival, will take place in an online festival from September 3 to 12.
The 22nd edition of the festival was originally planned to take place last spring at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city, and the festival’s managers emphasized that they will hold a live festival as soon as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
There will be some screenings at a drive-in in the Tel Aviv area, the details of which have yet to be announced.
The festival will open on September 2 with the premiere of Gad Aisen’s Rockfour: The Time Machine, the story of one of Israel’s most important bands for the past 30 years, and of the turmoil that led to the band’s breakup during an American tour and its eventual reconciliation.
The International Competition, Panorama sections and short and student film competitions all feature the best of recent documentary cinema from around the world, and there are also special sections devoted to the arts and to music.
Many of the films feature intriguing, original stories that combine themes and tones. Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent tells the story of an 83-year-old man who goes undercover to infiltrate a retirement home to see how the residents are treated by the staff, and finds himself the object of the affections of many female residents. Other international films are Margaret Atwood: A Word After a Word After a Word is Power, by Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, by Ric Burns, a look at the life of the distinguished neurologist and author.
Two films by Israeli directors are concerned with American politics: Mor Loushy’s Kings of Capitol Hill, a look at AIPAC that features interviews with some of its founders, and Maya Zinshtein’s ’Til Kingdom Come, about the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors who are in the forefront of the American Evangelical movement that both supports Israel and is concerned about Jews around the world.
The selection of films about music are especially rich this year. They include Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, by Daniel Roher. The film, which is comprised of interviews, studio and concert footage and other archival material, features interviews with front man Robbie Robertson, now 77, whose biological father was Jewish, as well as those who were influenced by, and admired, the band, including Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Taj Mahal and Eric Clapton.
James Erskine’s Billie is a look at the tragic life of the incomparable singer Billie Holiday, made using a recently discovered archive.
Israeli actress/director Yael Abecassis has made a movie about her mother, the queen of Moroccan song in Israel, Raymonde, called Raymonde El Bidaoia.
Docaviv will feature over 20 new Israeli film premieres, on a wide variety of subjects. The offerings include Avida Livny’s Murder at Cinema North, about how the fates of several very different people intersected when bullets were fired into a queue of moviegoers outside Cinema North in Tel Aviv in 1957, an incident that few know anything about today; Nurith Aviv’s Yiddish, about young Israelis’ love for Yiddish poetry; Maya Sarfaty’s Love It Was Not, a bizarre true story about a romance between a Nazi officer and a Jewish prisoner; Ilan Yagoda’s Tuning, a look at the piano at the Tel Aviv central train station and those who play it; Duki Dror’s Lebanon – Borders of Blood, about the conflicts in that country that have so recently been back in the news; and Roni Aboulafia’s Honorable Men, a look at former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s rise to power and fall from grace.
In addition, there will be many special events, including master classes and Q and A sessions with the directors of the films shown at Docaviv.
A ticket for a single film is NIS 22, and there are various discounts and ticket packages available, including one for 10 films for NIS 150.
For more details, go to the Docaviv website at