Documentaries: Current Affairs & Politics
 
         
  THE FIELD (aka BACK TO SEBASTIA)
[Hasade]   
Director: Mordechai Vardi
Category: Current Affairs & Politics
Production: Mordechai Vardi: Veradim Productions; for Channel 8 (Hot Cable Communication), Commissioning Editor: Rinat Klein; The Gesher Multicultural Film Fund / Israel 2017
Associate Producer: Michael Treves: JMT Films Distribution & Co-productions 
Language: Hebrew, English, Arabic. Subtitles: English
Length: 72 minutes 

LoglineAli Abu Awaad is a leading Palestinian activist who teaches his countrymen non-violent resistance and reaches out to Jewish Israelis at the heart of the conflict. 

Synopsis: Gush Etzion junction, between Jerusalem and Hebron: Ali Abu Awwad dedicates his family’s field as a Palestinian Center for Non-violence. Despite his life experience, four years in an Israeli prison, his mother’s five year sentence, a brother killed by an Israeli soldier - Ali creates ''Roots'' with local Israeli settlers advancing responsibility and grassroots work to enable political reconciliation. The film director accompanies the initiative for 2.5 years and documents the changes transpiring on both sides. In 2015, Gush Etzion Junction suffers a wave of violence and the activists face a reality where their own relatives are being attacked.

Long Synopsis:In the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Hebron, there is an awakening of people from both sides desiring to find hope, and working for reconciliation. In the difficult situation of national conflict with the threat of terrorist attacks and the reality of occupation.
"The Field" is a feature length documentary film that follows the "Roots" project. A first of its kind initiative between Palestinians and Israeli settlers together working towards coexistence and peace not through politics but rather through a peoples movement developing from the grass roots. 
Every day, thousands of Palestinians and Israeli settlers pass through the "Etzion Junction," Near the junction you'll find the field of Ali Abu Awwad (40). Ali is a main character in the film - a charismatic leader, and his autobiography tells a story that normally produces a bitter hardened enemy. A childhood with a mother in Israeli prison, his own coming of age in the prisons because of his anti-Israel activities, his being wounded by shots fired from a passing Israeli car and his brother killed by an Israeli soldier. Ali invites Israeli settlers and Palestinians to meet in his piece of land and to hear the narrative of the other and to open to change. In Ali's field, people get liberated from the mutual fear. It's like another planet, a bubble of calm within a harsh reality. Ali's initiative is called "Roots" and it began in the winter of 2014 when he met a settler named Shaul Judelman, and they built together a partnership of peace activists. A joint project of Palestinians and Israeli settlers to find a way to live together in the hope of a better future.

Watch Video Trailer

Watch video sequence from the film
(Palestinian peace activist Ali Abu Awwad speaking with settlers in Efrat, West Bank)

Watch video news item/ French Television TF1 (French)
* sequences from THE FIELD: time code: 00:01:32

Watch video news item/ Israeli Television Channel 10 (Hebrew)
* incl. video sequences from THE FIELD

Movie Reviews:

« 300 meters from the junction ‘the field’ is God's Little Acre of coexistence between Palestinians and settlers. ‘’Roots’’ is trying to succeed where politics failed. »
Roots of Peace / Ruthi Kadosh / Maariv Daily Newspaper (Hebrew) 

« The film is made with wisdom and aesthetic modesty and, to my opinion also with political integrity. »
About the film ‘’The Field’’ by Rabbi Mordechai Vardi / Cinema South Film Festival /.A.B. Yehoshua (Hebrew) 

« C’est la route la plus dangereuse de Cisjordanie. Ici, les colons israéliens vivent au rythme d’un attentat par mois en moyenne. Mais des initiatives de paix émergent.» Cisjordanie : quand les initiatives de paix émergent des habitants / LCI (TF1) 

« Ali est un ancien prisonnier palestinien, Shaul un colon israélien. L’histoire les oppose, mais l’essentiel les réunit : avocats  de la non-violence, ils plaident pour un dépassement de la culture victimaire.» Israël-Palestine : une paix à quatre mains / Piotr Smolar / Le Monde 

« The documentary 'The Field' follows an Israeli-Palestinian grassroots organization during an unusually trying period in the West Bank » Palestinians and Settlers Tried to Make Peace on Their Own, and Then This Happened / Judy Maltz / Haaretz English Edition-International 

« Mordechai Vardi’s film The Field looks at an unusual organization in Gush Etzion that tries to find a way for Jews and Arabs to live together in peace » Up Close and Personal / Hannah Brown / Jerusalem Post

« Mordechai Vardi’s THE FIELD, about a Palestinian who attempts to bridge the gap with Israel settlers through nonviolence » Docaviv 2017 Overview / Basil Tsiokos / What (not) to doc - all things documentary

Festivals & Awards: URL

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  HOLY ZOO  
Director: Katharina Waisburd
Category: Current Affairs & Politics/Human Interest
Production: Anna Martensen:TM Film, for SWR (Commissioning Editor: Dr. Gudrun Hanke-El Ghomri) / Germany 2016
Advisory Producer: Vadim Jendreyko, Producer Filmacademy: Denise Neustadt; 
Associate Producer: Hercli Bundi: Mira Film GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland
Language: Hebrew, Arabic, English. Subtitles: German/English
Length: 60 minutes.

Synopsis:In Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo Israelis and Palestinians work hand in hand. This would be considered as normality in many places around the world, but here it happens in an environment, which is constantly shaken by violence and war. Even though coming from the same city, people’s living realities seem to be far away from each other and are marked by deep cuts in society. In the microcosm of the zoo among animals and on green refreshing grounds their cooperation seems to be easy. Holy Zoo discovers an extraordinary place in the heart of the Middle East Conflict and dares to revive questions about freedom and hope in a desperate situation.

Festivals & Awards: Watch teaser (video)

Movie Reviews:

« Katharina Waisburd offers a new, original look at the subject matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She thoroughly illustrates the relations of the Jewish and the Muslim employees of the zoo in Jerusalem – full of friendship, though not devoid of tensions. » Focus on Germany / Krakow Film Festival

« Holy Zoo, directed by Katharina Waisburd, will close the festival with a note of optimism and hope for the future » 
Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival 2016 / Ayelet Dekel / Midnight East 

« The closing event of the festival will be a screening of Katharina Waisburd’s Holy Zoo, a documentary about the extraordinary behind-the-scenes story of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. » 
It’s time for the Jewish Film Festival / Hannah Brown / Jerusalem Post 

« With Holy Zoo, the festival ends with a vibrant message of hope, despite the tensions surrounding this city and its residents from all sides. » 
Jewish identity on film / Peggy Cidor / Jerusalem Post 

« An unusual prism through which to view Israel, Jerusalem and the fight for coexistence is “Holy Zoo,” a documentary about the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the Arab-Jewish activities that take place there on a regular basis. » 
‘Denial,’ acceptance, and other Jewish matters in the movies / Jessica Steinberg / The Times of Israel 

« "Holy Zoo": This interesting fly-on-the-wall documentary, receiving a world premiere, drops us into the going-ons at the Biblical Zoo, a Jerusalem attraction where school kids from different faiths visit a tranquil environment and at which Israeli and Palestinian employees work side by side. Director Katharina Waisburd understands the advantages of showing not telling, and her appreciation of broader implications results in a quiet film that says more than words often do. » SF Jewish Film Fest: Here are movies you shouldn't miss / Randy Myers / The Mercury News

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  ON THE LEFT (the story of the Israeli Left 1948-2012)
[Al Tsad Smol]   

Director: Ron Cahlili
Category: Current Affairs & Politics
Production: Ron Cahlili: Docudrama Productions, for Channel 8 (Hot Cable Communication) / Israel 2013
Language: Hebrew, Arabic. Subtitles: German/English
Length: 4x59 minutes.

Synopsis:“On the Left” is a 4 chapters' documentary series that tells the story of the Israeli left (Zionist and non-Zionist, Marxist and non-Marxist), from the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 until present time. The series investigates, among other things, how Israel evolved from a nation that at least rhetorically was built from a leftist majority into a proud right wing majority nation and how the compliment “Leftist” turned into a curse word. The narrative of the series is chronological, while it conveys the changes, upheavals, and dramatic turn points along the years. 

Watch Video Trailer

Festivals & Awards: Le 1er chapitre de la série a été projeté au festival de cinéma FIPA, Biarritz

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  WITHIN THE EYE OF THE STORM
[BeEyn Haseara]  

Director: Shelley Hermon
Category: Current Affairs & Politics
Production: Nisan Katz and Shelley Hermon / Israel 2012
Co-produced with France Télévisions
Language: Hebrew, Arabic Subtitles: English
Length: 52 / 68 minutes. HD

Synopsis: Bassam and Rami, a Palestinian and an Israeli, were once dedicated fighters willing to kill and be killed by one another for their nations. Yet, when faced with the tragic loss of their daughters in the conflict, they chose to do the unexpected and instead of seeking revenge, they turned from enemies to brothers.

Watch Video Trailer

for more information click here > 
 

  WAR MATADOR
[Matador Ha Milhama]  

Director: Avner Faingulernt & Macabit Abramson / Israel 2011 
Category: Creative Documentary / Current Affairs
Production:
Language: Hebrew, Arabic Subtitles: English
Length: 60 / 70 minutes. HD

Synopsis: In January 2009, during the war in Gaza, two courageous Israeli directors grabbed their cameras to shoot material along the common border. The bombs are filmed from a distance, out of focus and at extreme focal length – the tourists’ point of view. The impact of the bombs in the distance is muffled, which is why the visual opposition between close up/long shot draws the attention to the spoken words, which are blunt, without compassion. The result of their journey is a disturbing essay about war and tourism, an absurd, surreal journey.

for more information click here >

 
  KALANDIA - a Checkpoint's story 
Director: Neta Efrony/ Israel 2009
Category: Current Affairs
Language: English, Arabic, Hebrew. French / English narration & subtitles
Length: 59 minutes

Synopsis: Over a span of six years, Neta Efrony, Filmmaker and a member of ''MachsomWatch'', documented an Israeli military Checkpoint - on the road between East Jerusalem and Ramallah - who grew and expanded into becoming a Terminal. Kalandia's Checkpoint does not separate between Arabs and Jews; it separates between Palestinians and Palestinians. The film is an authentic and disturbing testimony to the daily struggle of Palestinians who wish to continue their routine lives, on their way to work, education, medical care or religious reasons. 

Watch Video Trailer

Festivals & Awards:
  • FIPA Festival Biarritz - France 2006
  • Honorary Mention: MHRFF Montréal International Human Rights Film Festival - Canada 2010
  • One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival - Czech Republic 2010
  • One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival - Slovakia 2010
  • The Art of the Document Festival, Warsaw - Poland 2010
  • Mediterranean Film Festival of Brussels - Belgium 2010
  • Peace on Earth Film Festival, Chicago - USA 2010
  • Viscult Film Festival Joensuu - Finland 2010
  • São Paulo International Film Festival - Brazil 2009
  • CineMed Mediterranean Film Festival Montpellier - France 2009
  • OXDOX Oxford International Documentary Film Festival - U.K. 2009
  • DOK Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival - Germany 2009
  • Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) - Bahamas 2009
  • Nominee: Best Film Award: Israel Documentary Awards 2009
Movie Review:
* « This is one of those films that stays in your mind.» / Kalandia - a Checkpoint Story/ Tue Steen Müller / Filmkommentaren
 

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  6 FLOORS TO HELL  
Director: Jonathan Ben Efrat / Israel 2008
Category: Creative Documentary
Production:  Claudia Levin: Claudius Films 
Language: Arabic, Hebrew, Subtitles: English
Length: 52 minutes

Synopsis:Illegal Palestinians workers live in an unfinished mall near Tel Aviv, six floors underground, with no electricity and water. Among them is Jalal who dreams of his fiancée, who is waiting for him to return. At one of central Israel’s largest junctions, deep in the concrete skeleton, six floors down, the workers sleep. A life between darkness and light. 

Watch Video Trailer

Festivals & Awards:
  • Forum des Images, Paris - France 2009
  • Winner Special Prize: Festival of Liberties, Brussels - Belgium 2009
  • TriContinental Film Festival - South Africa 2009
  • CLIFF Canadian Labour International Film Festival - Canada 2008
  • LIDF London International Documentary Film Festival - U.K. 2009
  • DocLisboa International Documentary Film Festival - Portugal 2008
  • DOK Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival - Germany 2008
  • MedFilm Cinema of the Mediterranean in Rome Film Festival - Italy 2008
  • Rai-3 Prize: CMCA Mediterranean Documentary and Reportage Film Festival - Italy 2008
  • Best Editing Award: Doc Aviv International Documentary Film Festival - Israel 2008 

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  PLAY ME ALLEGRO - an optimistic borderline story
Director: Alon Alsheich & Eran Yehezkel / Israel 2008 
Category: Creative Documentary
Co-Produced: with the Sapir College 
Language:Hebrew, Russian, Arabic. Subtitles: English 
Length: 52 minutes

Synopsis: 4 km from Gaza, kibbutz Nir-Am is located on the border between Israel & the Palestinian Authority. In spite of Israeli missiles & helicopters soaring above their heads, and Palestinian rockets falling in their yard, Julia, a Russian immigrant, and her 5 years old daughter, choose not to give up. If it weren’t for the daily sirens and rockets, their lives would be like those of most single-parent families. Living with the constant threat, Julia struggles to maintain a dialogue with their Palestinian neighbors and lead a normal life. An abnormally normal life and a profoundly appealing film, that moves towards a surprise happy ending. 

Watch Video Trailers: Trailer 1 ,    Trailer 2
Read Press Review

Festivals & Awards:
  • Human Rights Award: Docudays International Human Rights Film Festival, Kiev - Ukraine 2009
  • "Palestine - Israel Focus'': BaKaFORUM Basel_Karlsruhe Forum - Switzerland 2009
  • TRANZYT International Documentary Film Festival - Poland 2010
  • ''Mediterranean'': ''Sole E Luna'' Doc Fest - Italy 2010
  • ''New Israeli Cinema from Gaza and Sderot'': Maysles Cinema/Maysles Institute, New York - U.S.A. 2012
  • "Family'': Viscult Film Festival Joensuu - Finland 2009
  • Delray Beach Film Festival, Florida - USA 2009
  • Taiwan International Documentary Festival - Taiwan 2008
  • Docupolis International Documentary Festival, Barcelona - Spain 2008
  • RIDM International Documentary Film Festival, Montreal - Canada 2008
  • Message to Man International Documentary Film Festival, Saint-Petersburg - Russia 2008

 
  IN THE FREIMAN'S KITCHEN 
Director:  Hadar Bashan / Israel 2007 
Category: Creative Documentary
Production: Nachum Landau and the Sapir College 
Language: Hebrew. Subtitles: English
Length: 55 minutes

Synopsis: An intimate film about the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip, reflected through the elderly couple's kitchen in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif settlement bloc. The backdrop of this film reflects the dense dynamics of marital relations, the fear of growing old, and the anxieties of the upcoming evacuation. Yaakov and Miriam have built themselves a haven of routine extending from morning till night: coffee, a joint reciting of psalms, cooking, hosting, and preparing dinner for themselves - all within their kitchen. 

Festivals & Awards:
  • 3 Continents Film Festival, Nantes- France 2010
  • Winner: Best Documentary Award : International Women Film Festival Rehovot - Israel 2007
  • Nominee for Best Documentary : Israel Academy Awards - Israel 2008
  • Jerusalem International Film Festival - Israel 2007

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  THE INVISIBLE 
Director: Gil Karni / Israel 2010 
Category: Current Affairs / Society and Ethnology
Language: Arabic, Hebrew. Subtitles: English
Length: 52 / 70 minutes

Synopsis: The film documents a period of twelve years in the un-recognized village of Arab- Al-Naim in the Galilee. The Bedouins, who have lived there for over century, serve as scouts in the IDF. One of them is Fahim, the protagonist of the film. They have been living in tin huts since 1963, no electricity, rationed water and no asphalt road.
Despite the change in the status of the village that was officially recognized in 1999, the bureaucratic red tape of government offices and political considerations have delayed the construction permits. Fahim, wanting to right the wrongs and bring progress, fights his own personal battle to receive authorization for a power connection in a place where the inhabitants get by on generators and camp fires.

Watch Video Trailer: Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Trailer 3

Festivals & Awards:
  • Nominee: CMCA Grand Prix Mediterranean Challenges: CMCA International Prize for Mediterranean Documentary and Reportage - Italy 2010
  • Other Israel Film Festival, New York - U.S.A. 2010
  • Doc Aviv International Documentary Film Festival - Israel 2010 

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  OLIVE PRESS (Masik)
Director:  Yoram Sabo / Israel 2005
Category: Creative Documentary / Current Affairs
Production:  Yoram Schaffer, Roni Berkovitch & Yoram Sabo : Doc Movies
Language:Hebrew, Arabic. English translation
Length: 50 minutes

Synopsis: As every year, towards the end of summer, the olives ripen on the trees. In the picturesque hills and valleys of the West Bank, they turn from bitter green to luscious purple. For the next three months, as autumn unfolds, the owners of the trees and their families - Palestinians and Jews - partake in the timeless ritual of the olive harvest.
In the past, olives branches used to symbolize peace. Today, they serve as a tool in the ongoing conflict about land and territory.
The film follows three characters, Palestinians and Israelis, whose lives were affected or completely changed because of those olives. 

Festivals & Awards:
  • San Francisco Jewish Film Festival - USA 2006
  • Haifa International Film Festival - Israel 2005

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  AWAITING 
Director:  Hadara Oren / Israel 2005
Category: Creative Documentary
Language: Hebrew. English translation
Length: 47 minutes

Synopsis: Due to the economic crisis and a sequence of terrorist attacks in the city of Tel Aviv, the filmmaker roams the streets during a period of three years, documenting what the people of Tel Aviv experienced: alienation, anxiety and sadness. This film is a poetic observation attempting to express these feelings alongside the hope for something or someone from the outside to step in and change the unbearable situation that exists.

Festivals & Awards:
  • Mediterranean Documentary Film Festival - Greece 2008
  • The Mediterranean Film Festival of Algarve - Portugal 2006
  • Viscult Film Festival Joensuu - Finland 2006
  • International Artfilm Festival, Teplice - Slovakia 2005
  • Creative Documentaries International Film Festival - Escales Documentaires de La Rochelle - France 2005
  • Nominee for Best First Film: Docupolis International Documentary Festival, Barcelona - Spain 2005

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  JENIN DIARY, THE RESERVIST'S INSIDE STORY  
Director:  Gil Mezuman / Israel 2002
Category: Creative Documentary / Current Affairs
Language: Hebrew.  English Translation
Length: 65 minutes

Synopsis: After the deadly suicide terrorist attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, on the eve of Passover, the filmmaker was called up with his battalion for emergency reserve duty. Eight days later, in a clash with armed terrorists deep inside Jenin refugee camp, 13 officers and soldiers in his company were killed. Jenin Diary exposes the inside story of a reservist's unit in times of war.

Festivals & Awards:
  • San Diego Jewish Film Festival - USA 2004
  • Toronto Jewish Film Festival - Canada 2003
  • Israel Film Festival - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago - USA 2003
  • Melbourne Jewish Film Festival - Australia 2003
  • Jerusalem International Film Festival - Israel 2002

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