Docaviv 2019 Overview

The 21st Docaviv: Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival

May 23-June 1

More than 100 new features are part of the lineup of the well-respected Israeli nonfiction event.


This year, I’ll be serving on the Israeli Feature Competition jury and am looking forward to considering all the films in my category over the next week. These include the world premieres of Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir’s PICTURE OF HIS LIFE, a chronicle of a famed wildlife photographer’s mission to capture a polar bear swimming underwater; Duki Dror’s THERE ARE NO LIONS IN TEL AVIV, about the rise and fall of the rabbi who created the Tel Aviv Zoo; Uri Levi’s ONCE UPON A BOY, about a young boy with cerebral palsy; Zohar Wagner’s 21 DAYS INSIDE, on the arrest and interrogation of a Bedouin mother accused of killing her own child; Karin Kainer’s KOSHER BEACH, about a gender-segregated beach threatened with closure by religious authorities; Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s THE VIEWING BOOTH, which observes the reactions of a young American woman as she views images of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank; Shay Fogelman’s CHASING YEHOSHUA, which follows the journalist’s search for a fugitive settler convicted of killing an innocent Palestinian cab driver; Barak Heymann and Uri Levi’s COMRADE DOV, a portrait of a controversial politician with the Jewish-Arab Hadash party; Ilan Mizrahi’s BEST UNKEPT SECRET, about a young man who seeks to uncover the truth behind his lifelong indoctrination by a fanatical organization; Itamar Chen’s THE RABBI FROM HEZBOLLAH, a profile of an unlikely Israeli secret agent; Sharon Yaish and Yael Shachar’s A WHORE LIKE ME, which follows a former victim of sexual trafficking as she confronts her abusers; and Ari Davidovich’s SHAI K, about a legendary actor known as the Israeli Charlie Chaplin.


The Israeli Feature Competition also includes the Israeli premieres of Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche’s Sundance debut ADVOCATE, which profiles a fierce, dedicated Israeli attorney representing Palestinian defendants; Juna Sulieman’s IDFA-premiering MUSSOLINI’S SISTER, a hybrid about the filmmaker’s elderly Palestinian grandmother; and Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia’s Tribeca-debuting LEFTOVER WOMEN, on the challenges faced by single women in China.


Other competitions include the boundary-pushing Depth of Field, which includes work like Israela Shaer Meoded’s WOMAN, an archival exploration of women in Israeli cinema; Itay Marom’s RESONANCE, on the relationship between notable voice teachers and their pupils; and Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s MOTHER, I AM SUFFOCATING. THIS IS MY LAST FILM ABOUT YOU, a personal essay about the filmmaker’s relationship to his home continent, Africa; the Students Competition, which primarily includes short form content, but also features Aharon Trietel’s mid-length ECCE HOMO, following a former Orthodox man who seeks out his long-missing uncle; and the International Competition, which showcases work like Goran Devic’s ON THE WATER, which explores the haunting past of a Croatian town via the metaphor of the three rivers that converge there; as well as several other notable films that have been previously covered in w(n)td.


The fest’s Panorama section offers a wide-ranging look at both Israeli and international docs, with the former including Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir, and Shani Rozanes’ GOLDA, on the legendary Israeli Prime Minister; Michal Aronzon’s THE LITTLE THINGS, which chronicles the crisis of faith of a religious settler; Jonathan Ofek’s THE ASHRAM CHILDREN: I AM NO BODY, I HAVE NO BODY, a personal exploration of the filmmaker’s secret upbringing in an Indian ashram; Udi Kalinsky and Revital Oren’s THE FINE DYNASTY, in which the lands and orchards of a family of settlers face an uncertain future; Tamara Mamon’s OPEN YOUR MOUTH, about three Palestinian boys in Israel invited to be part of a choir; Hadas Ayalon’s WE WERE THE OTHERS, profiling gay life in Israeli before the decriminalization of homosexuality; and Maya Tiberman and Kineret Hay-Gillor’s ALONE TOGETHER, about a middle-aged woman who provides comfort to abandoned babies.


Thematic sections include Arts and Culture, with work like Jacqui Morris and David Morris’ NUREYEV, about the iconic ballet dancer; Dan Peer’s ANGELICA, about the kidnapping of the filmmaker’s great grandmother, daughter to an influential Israeli art world figure; and Halina Dyrschka’s BEYOND THE VISIBLE: HILMA AF KLINT, which celebrates the under-recognized abstract artist; and the Music strand, with work such as Michael Epstein’s JOHN & YOKO: ABOVE US ONLY SKY, a behind the scenes look at the superstar couple’s collaboration on the Imagine album; and Boaz Goldberg’s TOMORROW’S GONE, a portrait of a tortured Israeli musician obsessed with Elvis and mysticism.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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