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Docs on the Spot

HOT SPOT FOR DOCS: Documentary Festivals Calling / Ones to  watch / Docu Fests Highlights and Awards / Submit


Docaviv live with a great lineup for online 2020 edition

Music doc “Rockfour: The Time Machine” by Gad Aisen to open the festival. Maite Alberdi’s “The Mole Agent”, Teboho Edkins’ “Days of Cannibalism”, “Collective” by Alexander Nanau and Sundance winners “Acasa, My Home” (Radu Ciorniciuc) and “The Painter and the Thief” (Benjamin Ree) among this year’s International Competition titles.


Docaviv, Tel Aviv’s annual international and Oscar-qualifying doc fest, has revealed this year’s complete programme, featuring 115 films from 38 countries. The 22nd edition of the festival takes place from 3 - 12 September and features world and Israeli premieres, screening through both online and drive-in screenings, as well as filmmaker talks and Q&A’s, webinars, industry meet-ups and live performances streaming from the DocuLive studio, accessible through the festival's website.


The festival will open on the night of 2 September with the world premiere of “Rockfour: The Time Machine” by Gad Aisen, which screens in the festival’s Israeli Competition. Rockfour is one of the most significant rock bands in Israel of the past 30 years. A decade has gone by and a vulnerable Eli Lulai returns to the position of lead singer after an emotional turmoil that led him to quit the band in the midst of a tour in the US. The festival’s opening night features a live concert by the legendary band, streamed from the DocuLive studio.


To support local documentary filmmaking in these difficult times, the festival has partnered with the Tel-Aviv Foundation in a new initiative for supporting the artists. Donations made through the festival's website will go directly to the Israeli filmmakers.


International Competition

11 films have been selected for the International Competition, including spy-thriller “The Mole Agent” by the new voice of Chilean cinema Maite Alberdi, which follows a charming protagonist sent on a secret mission in a nursing home; Teboho Edkins’ “Days of Cannibalism”, an eye-opening modern Western about the reciprocal relations between China and Lesotho; Sundance prizewinners “Acasa, My Home” (Radu Ciorniciuc) and “The Painter and the Thief” (Benjamin Ree); and “Once Upon a Time in Venezuela” by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, about one fishing village's struggle for survival in the face of a corrupt political system and an ecological crisis.


New Competition: Beyond the Screen

The selection of this year's new award category, Beyond the Screen, features both Israeli and international films whose directors or subjects work to change our social reality. The lineup includes Sundance hit “The Fight” by Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg on the fight of ACLU’s legal team for democracy, as they wage a court-war against Trump's regulations; Feras Fayyad’s Academy-Award-nominee “The Cave”, about a doctor who runs an underground hospital in the tunnels underneath Syria; “Aswang” by Alyx Ayn Arumpac about the aggressive war on drugs declared by the president of the Philippines, which quickly turned into a street-war against marginalized populations; and “Coded Bias” by Shalini Kantayya, which follows activists and scientists who fight for justice by exposing the biases of the algorithms and AIs that rule our lives.


Together with the new award, the festival will give out a total of 340,000 NIS  (around 84,700 EUR or 76,300 GBP at the time of writing) of prize money among the winners of Docaviv's competitions. The winners of the Israeli, International and Shorts competitions will automatically qualify for Oscar consideration.


Music docs

Alongside the Israeli music docs about Rockfour and Raymonde El Bidaoia, the festival’s lineup features some of this year's greatest music docs, including  “Billie” (James Erskine), the turbulent and tragic life story of singer Billie Holiday; “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band” by Daniel Roher, in which lead guitarist Robertson returns to The Band's winding career path; “The Go-Go's”, Alison Ellwood’s film about the successful all-female band; “White Riot” by Rubika Shah, a collage of archive footage about 1970s British protest movement Rock against Racism; “Aznavour by Charles” by Marc di Domenico, a touching, personal account, shown through the eyes of the French actor and chansonnier; and Kamal Hachkar’s “In Your Eyes, I See My Country”, in which Israeli musicians Neta Elkayam and Amit Haï Cohen travel to Morocco in search of their roots. Neta Elkayam and Amit Haï Cohen will perform live at the DocuLive studio.


Guests at Docaviv 2020

The festival will continue its tradition of inviting leading documentary filmmakers, with all talks and Q&A sessions taking place online. Among this year's guests are independent American filmmaker Lynne Sachs with two of her films, including her latest “Film About a Father Who” about her eccentric father, featuring footage shot over 30 years. Hubert Sauper (“Darwin's Nightmare”) returns to Docaviv with Sundance winner “Epicentro”; Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa will present his film “State Funeral”; Alexander Nanau will present his hit documentary “Collective”, about a hair-raising journalistic investigation that exposed far-reaching corruption and ultimately led to the fall of the government in Romania; hailing from the US, brothers Bill and Turner Ross will bring the audiences “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets”, which blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction; and filmmakers Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez will present “American Sector”, about the remains of the Berlin Wall scattered around the United States.


Docaviv will hold a tribute to esteemed director Patricio Guzmán, and screens his Chilean trilogy which includes “Nostalgia for the Light”, “The Pearl Button” and Cannes winner “The Cordillera of Dreams”.


Industry Events

Docaviv continues to support documentary filmmaking with a range of industry events. This includes one-on-one sessions for participating filmmakers and top-of-their-field industry professionals from around the world; DocLabTLV, the festival's rough-cut workshop, in collaboration with The New Fund for Cinema and TV; the annual student pitching competition; and a distribution meetup held in collaboration with the Israeli Documentary Filmmakers Forum.


Docaviv Chairman Rami Shalmor: “As in the previous 21 editions, we are bringing Israeli documentary lovers a wonderful selection of films. With social distancing preventing us from opening movie theaters, the Docaviv team had to be creative and come up with a solution in a very short time. This unique virtual festival is the result of their brilliant work. Docaviv has never stopped screening films and holding festivals in Tel Aviv and the Galilee and Negev regions. This festival will take place and offer a full program in spite of COVID-19.”


Galia Bador, Festival Director: “Our reality has changed. Every day that passes tells us a new story that we cannot deny. All we can do is understand it, and think of the possibilities it holds. Now is the time to be proactive and get the wheels of the industry rolling. This is why we produced an online festival with quality content made accessible with up-to-date, user-friendly technology—one of the biggest and the first festivals of its kind. The filmmakers and the audience are the beating heart of Docaviv. During the passing year, the festival supported Israeli filmmakers with NIS 750,000 worth of activities and awards, including filmmaking workshops for teens and distributed income from our streaming events. This year, the festival will continue to offer its audience affordable quality content, and for the first time, allow viewers to support filmmakers directly by making a donation through our website.”


Karin Rywkind Segal, Artistic Director of Docaviv: “I am immensely proud to present the festival's full program. Curated over many months, this selection is not a compromise. Despite the difficulties brought on by the times, the festival will move forward with a rich, up-to-date program, providing viewers with an opportunity to explore, understand, and experience the world of contemporary documentary cinema and the diverse stories it tells. This year's special circumstances will make the festival accessible to new audiences from all over the country, advancing Docaviv's mission to present documentary cinema in Israel's periphery as well. The transition to an online platform is also an opportunity to increase the number of international guests and to broaden the dialogue between international film professionals and Israeli filmmakers.”

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