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Teacher 521.(Photo by: Courtesy)
Northern Experience
DocAviv Galil takes some of Israel's best factual film productions to a new audience.
The second annual DocAviv Galil Film Festival will kick off on November 29 and will run through December 2 at Ma’aleh Tarshiha in the Galilee. Thirty films will be screened, and there will be many special programs, many of which are concerned with the development of filmmaking in the periphery of the country. To that end, grants of more than NIS 1 million will be awarded to filmmakers at the festival. It is sponsored by the DocAviv Festival, which for more than 12 years has been presenting a prestigious international documentary festival in Tel Aviv in the spring.

Festival director Galya Bador said, “This festival in the Galilee is a natural part of the vision of the DocAviv Festival to promote the documentary film in Israel, but especially to widen the independent identity of the periphery culturally and geographically in its interaction with the center, which must be a two-way street.”

The films include the best Israeli documentaries of the last year, as well as a number of premieres. The opening movie will be Teacher Irena, directed by Itamar Chen. It is a prize-winning film about a Jerusalem teacher who is an immigrant from Russia and is fiercely devoted to her underprivileged students.

The movies in the festival tackle a wide range of subjects, from foreign workers to culture to nature. While many films deal with controversial subjects, the movies are not polemics. Several of the films on the program have garnered international acclaim and exemplify the high standard of documentary filmmaking in Israel.

Shlomi Eldar’s Precious Life, a film about a journalist’s attempt to help a wounded Palestinian child get medical treatment in Israel, is on the short list of documentaries to be nominated for an Oscar this year. Yael Hersonskis’s A Film Unfinished, based on recently discovered archival footage shot by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, had a successful theatrical run in the US and won the Documentary Editing Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Anat Zuria’s latest film, Black Bus, looks at two women brought up in the haredi community who question the values they were taught. It won the Best Documentary Prize at the Haifa International Film Festival. Zuria, a Jerusalem-based Orthodox director, has made two other highly acclaimed, controversial films about women and Orthodoxy – Sentenced to Marriage and Purity.

Land of Genesis, a beautifully photographed look at nature in Israel, was directed by veteran cinematographer Moshe Alpert and was shown commercially throughout Israel.

A number of the films explore issues of identity. Among these are I’m Not a Filipina, the story of a blind six-year-old girl born in Israel to a family from the Philippines; Blood Relation, a look at a Palestinian woman who lives in a refugee camp and her cousin, an officer in the Israeli army; and Sayed Kashua’s Forever Scared, in which the well-known author examines what it’s like to be an Israeli Arab.

The arts are another focus of the festival. Zubin and I takes a look at the life and career of conductor Zubin Mehta; Even with My Eyes Wide Open is a portrait of the frontman of the band Algiers, Gabriel Belahassan, who has struggled with bipolar illness; and KMS – Blacks looks at a hip-hop group made up of Ethiopian immigrants who live in Rehovot. There are many special events during the four-day festival.

Although at one time animated film was associated with dramas, since the success of the 2008 animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, that has changed. There will be a workshop on animation all over the world and in Israel.

Doc-Culture is a conference about documentaries and art in the periphery of the country. In the Future Generation program, Jewish and Arab youth watch films they have made and get to know each other through cinema.

The A Day in the Life of a Child program looks at a special day in the lives of a number of Israeli children from very different backgrounds.

The festival will include two concerts, one by David Broza and the other by The Giraffes.

For more information, and to order tickets, go to the festival website at 010/. This site also features clips from the films in the festival, which makes it easier than ever to choose which ones to see.
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