I'm just back from the fabulous DocAviv Film Festival. This was my first trip to Israel, and I wish I could've stayed longer. I met wonderful people, saw some great films as part of the International Jury, went to the beach (a lot), visited many of the famous sites and learned a lot. While DocAviv takes place during Cannes, that doesn't matter much to the locals, who are coming out in droves, filling the theaters and having a great time watching some amazing docs.
We awarded two prizes. The first was a Special Jury Mention to the film Darwin, by Nick Brandestini. He's off to Karlovy Vary next, and you can check out the film here. We also awarded the International Competition Award to El Sicario: Room 164 by Gianfranco Rosi. Turns out El Sicario was recently picked up and will play NYC and elsewhere soon. I highly recommend both films as well as all of the others in competition. There was also an Israeli Doc competition (with many great films, Israeli docs are in their prime right now) and student film awards, as well as a DocChallenge and many special events (including my favorite: Food and Film). The festival is only 13 years old now (happy Bar Mitzvah), but is growing in importance and stature and I highly recommend that doc makers, industry and fans check it out. You can't get much better than May in Tel Aviv, with good docs, good conversations and outdoor screenings at the Tel Aviv Port!
While there, I also ran a workshop with Hypermedia on the Future of the Doc, called "Re:Invent." It was a full day workshop broken into three sessions: new business models for distribution and audience engagement, transmedia practices and pitching. I learned a lot from the audience - about particularities of Israeli cinema and possibilities, about new ideas and I hope I left behind some wisdom as well. The biggest things I learned are: 1. that Israeli Docs are great, the scene is vibrant and winning awards (this I knew, but learned even more while there, watching about 15 recent docs) and 2. that there's a pretty solid funding system in place, but not much for trying new models of outreach and distribution, and last 3. that the political situation makes many things difficult for Israeli filmmakers both at home and abroad (in many ways, and from many different perspectives, too much to cover here). There were two interviews that ran in conjunction. One at NRG, and you can see a Google Translation here, and one with DocMovies. Speaking of DocMovies, they have launched a really cool distribution service that is very filmmaker friendly, and I hope to cover more about that soon.
I've uploaded the slides from my workshop to SlideShare. Feel free to download them, and use them as you wish. I hope to give more updates from the festival soon.