Gad Aisen’s feature-length music documentary Rockfour: The Time Machine will kick off the 22nd annual Docaviv, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, with its world premiere on Sept. 2.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the 22nd edition of the festival takes place from Sept. 3 to 12 and will take on a hybrid format, with a combination of digital and physical screenings in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Docaviv ’20 will feature 115 films from 38 countries that will screen through both online and drive-in screenings, as well as feature filmmaker talks and Q&A’s, webinars, industry meet-ups and live performances streaming from the DocuLive studio, accessible through the festival’s website.
“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,” said Karin Rywkind Segal, artistic director of Docaviv, in a statement. “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.”
Aisen’s Rockfour: The Time Machine (pictured) will screen as part of the Israeli Competition and charts the successful 30-year career of psychedelic rock band Rockfour as well as the return of lead vocalist Eli Lulai following a 10-year departure. The festival’s opening night will also feature a live concert by the legendary Holon, Israel band, streamed from the DocuLive studio.
The festival will give out a total of US$99,800 in prize money among the competition winners. The winners of the Israeli, International and Shorts competitions will automatically qualify for Academy Awards consideration.
Eleven films have been selected as part of the International Competition, including Maite Alberdi’s spy-thriller The Mole Agent, which follows a “charming protagonist” who undertakes a secret mission in a nursing home; Teboho Edkins’ Days of Cannibalism, about the reciprocal relations between China and Lesotho, the landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa; Anabel Rodríguez Ríos’ Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, about a fishing village’s struggle for survival in the face of a corrupt political system and ecological crisis; as well as Sundance prizewinners Acasa, My Home from Radu Ciorniciuc and The Painter and the Thief from Benjamin Ree.
Docaviv’s new Beyond the Screen competition, meanwhile, will encompass both Israeli and international films “whose directors or subjects work to change our social reality.”
The Beyond the Screen lineup includes Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s The Fight, which world premiered at Sundance ’20, and offers an in-depth look at the ACLU lawyers on the front lines of an increasingly polarized legal landscape; Feras Fayyad’s Academy Award-nominated The Cave, about an underground hospital in the tunnels under Syria; Alyx Ayn Arumpac’s Aswang, about the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines; and Shalini Kantayya’s Coded Bias, which follows activists and scientists exposing the biases of the algorithms and AI that increasingly rule our lives.
Music docs at the festival include: James Erskine’s Billie, about the life and death of Billie Holiday; Daniel Roher’s Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band; Alison Ellwood’s The Go-Go’s; Rubika Shah’s archive film White Riot, about the 1970s British protest movement Rock Against Racism; Marc di Domenico’s Aznavour by Charles, a personal account through the eyes of the legendary French performer; 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.
The complete program of this year’s Docaviv can be viewed by clicking here.