DocAviv ’17: Sneak Peeks from Israel’s world-renown documentary film festival

FF2 Media is proud to introduce Eti Or — our new Israeli contributor — with her report on Israeli women filmmaker screenings at this year’s DocAviv (Israel’s world-renown documentary film festival). Here are sneak peaks of Eti’s Top Picks from DocAviv ’17. Hopefully some of these films will make their way to festivals and theaters worldwide in the next few months.


Hope I’m in the Frame

Directed by the talented Netalie Braun, Hope I’m in the Frame tells the story of Michal Bat-Adam (Israel’s first female director).

Netalie incorporates snippets from Michal’s films, gently weaving them into her documentary with a sharp eye and sensitive hand. This allows Michal’s story to be told without interviews — exemplary use of the filmmaker’s motto “Show, Don’t Tell.” Michal’s strong personality is captured on camera, alongside soft moments with her beloved husband Moshé Mizrahi (one of Israel’s most successful directors). Way back in 1972, they worked together on the Oscar-nominated film I Love You Rosa (Moshé as writer/director and Michal as lead actress/muse).

Although the frustration of getting older is very apparent, Michal’s great spirit won’t let anything stop her from creating and walking forward. My heart was captured by the raw emotions on the screen, and obviously others in the audience agreed. When the credit roll was over, the huge crowd at the CinemaTheque gave Michal Bat-Adam and Netalie Braun a standing ovation. (ELO: 5/5)


The Sign for Love

El-Ad Cohen, a deaf filmmaker, collaborated with Iris Ben Moshe on this beautiful documentary about his journey to become a father and make peace with his past. The conflicts are familiar to every person who ever wanted to be a parent, not to mention every person who ever had a parent. However, being deaf is an identity that follows you whether you like it or not. So it is a big part of life, and the struggle — as this film shows with great sensitivity and a lot of love — is that much harder.

The Sign for Love is totally accessible to the hearing people in the audience as well as for the deaf. I have studied some Israeli sign language in the past, so I was having a fun time trying to follow the subtitles along with the sign language parts. The film was edited perfectly and the audience was very emotional when filmmakers El-Ad Cohen and Iris Ben Moshe took the stage after the screening. People cheered with hand applause, signing their love with tear-filled eyes. (ELO: 5/5) 



14 year old Olla is helping her autistic 13 year old brother Nikodem get ready for his Holy Communion. In the background, they have a drunk father, an estranged mother and a house that is falling apart. Although still a teenager, Olla has taken all the responsibility for her brother on her narrow shoulders, and she is constantly worried. But Nikodem is able to go to a regular school, he is full of charm and humor, and the way he gets along with his demanding sister is really fun to watch.

Communion – directed by Anna Zamecka — is heart-warming and very touching.  Despite all the hardship, Olla and Nikodem are living a great life because they have each other, which is quite a lot. (ELO: 4.5/5)


Fence Your Best

Haim Hatuel, an Olympic trainer in the field of fencing, has been training an entire family of fencers. He started with his siblings, then followed with his own children, and is now training the next generation. He is an obsessed man whose dream is to win an Olympic medal.

Fence Your Best – a documentary directed by Liat Mer — combines scraps of Haim’s old videos (captured on one of the first private owned video cameras in northern Israel) with a nostalgic soundtrack of melodies from “the beautiful old Israel.” The film feels frozen in time because Haim and his family still have dreams from an older era, before many Israelis lost their innocence.

While I didn’t relate much to any of the characters, I liked Fence Your Best for its intimacy, with moments of pure humanism and rawness. People are people, sometimes at their best, sometimes at their worse, but always moving forward. (ELO: 4.5/5)


La Promise

La Promise (The Promised) by Anat Schwartz tells three separate stories of Jews from France who decide to pack up their lives, move to Israel, and make Aliyah to “The Promised Land.” It was impossible not to feel connected to these stories, each from a different perspective, touching a hidden string inside me.

First-time filmmaker Anat Schwartz manages to show the spectator how fragile hope can be, how hard it is to immigrate to another country, and how easily reality can shatter one’s dreams.  I was very impressed by the intimacy Anat created with her characters and the depth she was able to reach. I was still thinking about La Promise hours after I left the theatre. (ELO: 4/5)

© Eti Or (5/31/17) FF2 Media


Top Photo: The Tel Aviv CinemaTheque — scene of the annual DocAviv festival. Photo Credit: Eti Or.

Middle Photo: El-Ad Cohen, co-director of The Sign for Love. Photo frrom the DocAviv website.

Bottom Photo: Filmmaker Michal Bat-Adam (on right) in her prime. Courtesy of Go2Films.

Final Photo: Light the Lights! Photo Credit: Eti Or.

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