The 23rd edition of Docaviv, which takes place in Tel Aviv–Yafo from July 1-10, will present a total of 116 documentaries, of which 31 will be world premieres. The festival will open on July 1 with Queen Shoshana by Kobi Farag and Morris Ben-Mayor, which tells the story of the first Israeli diva, Shoshana Damari. The film is also part of the Israeli Competition.
Along with talks with local and international filmmakers, retrospectives, and events held throughout the city, the festival takes a hybrid form and will include a geo-blocked online programme in addition to the on-site screenings.
Among the special guests is Kurdish filmmaker Hogir Hirori, who returns for a second time after joining the festival in 2018. "In a world where cruelty is rampant, his camera never loses track of the human element, capturing a world worth fighting for," says the festival. His new film Sabaya, winner of the World Documentary Directing Award at Sundance, will be screened at the festival. Hirori will also give a masterclass about filming in dangerous zones.
Docaviv is the largest film festival in the city of Tel Aviv, and the only festival in Israel dedicated exclusively to documentary films. It takes place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other locations around the city, including Tel Aviv Port, HaPisga Garden in Jaffa, Habima Square, Teder.FM at The Romano, Bialik Square, The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University, and Hilton Beach.
Artistic Director of Docaviv, Karin Rywkind Segal, says: “This year's festival comes at a troubled time, a time of conflict and the aftermath of violence. This is why this year's programme, and the voices and stories it amplifies, reflect the times - by showing protests and calls for change, struggles for freedom of speech, basic liberties, and human rights, the relations between humans and nature, and the need to save the only planet we have.
“We want to look at our history and our present and use the power of film to create dialog and provoke thought on a variety of burning issues. I invite everyone to dive into the program, engage with it and respond to the voices you find in it.”
Docaviv’s 2021 selection boasts 31 world premieres, 28 of them Israeli films and three from around the world. They are, A Jewish Life (Panorama), about a survivor of four concentration camps who dedicated his life to helping refugees make their way to Israel, which is directed by Austrian filmmakers Christian Krönes, Florian Weigensamer, Roland Schrotthofer and Christian Kermer, whose previous work includes the much acclaimed A German Life (2016) about Goebbels’ private secretary; Ride the Wave (Panorama) by Martyn Robertson, the coming-of-age journey of 14-year-old Ben Larg from Scotland who took the surfing world by storm, and Shimon Dotan's Dayton Diaries (Masters), a compassionate portrait of an American city in the grips of the opioid plague.
Among this year titles in the International Competition are Nanfu Wang's In the Same Breath; Hogir Hirori's Sabaya; Jessica Kingdon's Ascension, fresh from its world premiere at Tribeca and celebrating its international premiere at Docaviv; Camilla Nielsson's award-winning film President; Sundance hits Misha and the Wolves by Sam Hobkinson and Salomé Jashi's Sundance hit Taming the Garden; Alina Gorlova's IDFA winner This Rain Will Never Stop, and festival hit The Last Hillbilly by Diane Sara Bouzgarrou and Thomas Jenkoe.
Competing for Docaviv's newest award, Beyond the Screen, presented in memory of Docaviv’s late founder Ilana Tsur, are films whose directors or subjects work to change our social, ecological, and political reality. International films shortlisted for the award include Dieudo Hamadi’s Downstream to Kinshasa; Vicenta by Darío Doria; and Inside the Red Brick Wall by Hong Kong DocumentaryFilmmakers.
Selected for the Depth of Field Competition are nine documentaries exhibiting unique cinematic styles and distinct voices. The international selection features Theo Anthony's All Light, Everywhere; Pacho Velez' Searchers; A Man and a Camera by Guido Hendrikx; and Her Socialist Smile by filmmaker John Jianvito in which Hellen Keller's famous resourcefulness is shown in a new light as the film delves into her activism.
The Shorts Competition features, among others, Berlinale Golden Bear winner My Uncle Tudor; When We Were Bullies by American experimental filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt; award-winning Listen to the Beat of Our Images; and The Game, a choreography for a soccer referee who skillfully navigates between the players, the fans, and his father, who sits in the stands. As in previous years, the winners of the Israeli, International and Short Competitions at Docaviv will be eligible to compete for an Academy Award.
This year's festival celebrates acclaimed Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, whose body of work spans almost three decades and includes six feature films. This mini-retrospective includes four of his films - Rosi's latest award-winning film Notturno, Berlinale Golden Bear winner Fire at Sea, Docaviv 2011 winner El Sicario Room 164, and his 1996 debut, Boatman, screened in Israel for the first time. Rosi and his producer Donatella Palermo are guests of the festival this year and will lead a masterclass hosted by Dr. Ohad Landesman.
Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer Julie Goldman, one of the most prolific producers in the US documentary industry, will lead a masterclass about creative production at the festival. Her 2021 Sundance film In the Same Breath, will compete in this year's International Competition. Two of her earlier works will be screened at the festival: Life, Animated and Buck.
Aside from several competitive strands, Docaviv also offers a selection of filmmakers that have made their mark in the Masters section, which includes Victor Kossakovsky's heartwarming Gunda; Gorbachev. Heaven by Vitaly Mansky; Alan Berliner's New York Times tribute Letter to the Editor; master documentarian Frederick Wiseman's celebrated City Hall; Sam Pollard's MLK/FBI; and My Psychedelic Love Story by Errol Morris, and IDFA standout Skies Above Hebron by Esther Hertog and Paul King about five formative years in the lives of three Palestinian boys who grow up fenced in by military checkpoints plays in the festival’s Panorama section.
Alongside Israeli music docs about Shoshana Damari and Shlomo Bar, the programme includes some of this year's top music docs from around the world, including TINA directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin; Edgar Wright’s The Sparks Brothers; and Anita Rivaroli’s We Are the Thousand, in which 1,000 amateur rock musicians play together in hopes of getting the Foo Fighters to play a gig in the Italian city of Cesena.
This year's Art Docs selection features The Oratorio by Alex Bayer, Jonathan Mann and Mary Anne Rothberg, in which Martin Scorsese tells the story of an opera performance in 1826 that brought New York City to the forefront of world culture; Nick Broomfield’s dedication to his father, iconic British photographer Maurice Broomfield, My Father and Me; Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation, about the eccentric relationship between Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote; The Man Who Paints Water Drops by Oan Kim and Brigitte Bouillot about the dramatic life story of painter Kim Tschang-Yeul; and Aalto by Virpi Suutari about Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.