Reel Life

Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, turns 20 this year and will run from May 17-26 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other venues around the city. It will feature dozens of feature-length documentaries and shorts from Israel and around the world.

The festival will be especially festive to mark its two decades and will hold many events, some of which are free. In addition to the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, movies will be shown at the Tel Aviv Port, Jaffa Port, city rooftops, parks, Habima Square and other places around the city.

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It has four competitions: Israeli Competition, International Competition, Depth of Field (for innovative films) and Student Films.

There will be many guests at the festival, such as Ruth Beckermann, the director of The Waldheim Waltz, who will discuss her film. It’s about Kurt Waldheim’s successful bid for the Austrian presidency in 1986 and his attempt to conceal the details of his service in Hitler’s army. The film will be shown in the International Competition.

Markus Imhoof, a Swiss director, will present Eldorado, his look at the migrant crisis in Europe, which is interwoven with a personal story about an Italian refugee his family adopted during World War II.

The festival also features a special tribute program dedicated to the work of master filmmakers, such as Frederick Wiseman, one of the most acclaimed documentary filmmakers of all time. His latest film, Ex Libris, a fascinating, in-depth documentary about the New York Public Library, will be shown at the festival. His first film, the controversial documentary Titicut Follies (1967), a look at a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane, will also be screened. The movie shows shocking scenes of neglect and brutality on the part of the hospital staff, and it was banned for decades.

Also in the Masters series is In Search of Ladino, by the late Israeli director David Perlov, about Ladino speakers in Israel, many of them Holocaust survivors.

There are also programs dedicated to the themes of music, couture and many other categories, as well as a Virtual Reality program. In the Art section, The Green Fog, a movie composed of clips from films and television shows made in San Francisco, by directors Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, is exciting and fun. The Prince and the Dybbuk tells the story of Michał Waszynsk, the mysterious director who made the silent classic The Dybbuk.

The Rare Gems section, which features movies selected by Docaviv’s founder, Ilana Tzur, includes Crumb, Terry Zwigoff’s documentary about graphic artist R. Crumb and his troubled family. David Ofek and Ron Rotem’s No. 17 is a look at the search for the identity of a victim in a 2002 suicide bombing in Israel.

The Israeli competition features Shai Gal’s The Jewish Underground, a look at the Jewish terror organization that was responsible for several killings in the 1980s.

Dudu Tassa and the Kuwaitis: Don’t Be Modest, You Aren’t That Great by Tal Hake is a look at Tassa and his Jewish/Arab musical group, on tour with Radiohead in the US.

Docaviv NPO, the organization that sponsors Docaviv, awards Israel’s largest prize for an original Israeli documentary production, as well as many other prizes. The festival director is Galia Bador, and the artistic director is Karin Rywkind Segal.

For more information and to buy tickets, go to the festival website at http://www.docaviv.co.il.