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Theater of war

Ukraine and Russia to take spotlight at 24th DocAviv film fest

Over 100 films covering nature and climate change, war and peace, music and art will screen at Tel Aviv’s annual celebration of documentary cinema

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The 24th DocAviv documentary film festival opens May 26, with 120 films screened on a broad range of subjects, including more than a few about Ukraine and Russia.

The 11 days of screenings will run from May 26 through June 5, at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Beit Romano bar in the Florentin neighborhood of Tel Aviv, and online.

The films in the Israeli competition include “1341 Frames of Love and War,” from war photographer Micha Bar-Am’s archive; “Children of Peace,” about a utopian social experiment of Palestinian and Israeli children growing up together; and “H2: The Occupation Lab,” about the most notorious block in the Palestinian city of Hebron.

There’s also “Tantura,” “The Bankers Trial,” and “The Camera of Doctor Morris,” about an Eilat family and their crocodile.

The International Competition includes “All That Breathes,” about birds of prey rescued from the polluted air of New Delhi, and “Fire of Love,” about a volcano-researching couple, their perilous adventures and their deaths following the eruption of Japan’s Mount Unzen.

Another portrait about humans in nature is “Geographies of Solitude,” about a woman living alone on Sable Island with only wild horses, seals and birds for company.

Two International Competition films offer some context to the current Russia and Ukrainian realities — “Trenches,” a 2021 film about the trenches in the Donbas region of Ukraine, where Putin’s forces seized more than a third of the area in 2014, and where he is focusing his forces now as well, and the winner of the Sundance Audience Award, “Navalny,” about Soviet dissident Alex Navalny who wants to prove he survived a Putin assassination attempt and believes he will push Putin out of power.

“Where Are We Headed” offers a glimpse of the lives that cross paths in Moscow’s largest metro station.

This year’s Panorama films include “The Baby Daddy,” about New Yorker Ari Nagel, who has donated sperm to make more than 100 children, and Helena Bonham Carter narrating “Three Minutes — A Lengthening,” expanding upon a rare three minutes of celluloid shot in 1936 in a Jewish town in Poland.

The collection of music films offers a glimpse of the Turkish music scene in Germany, the music and muse of Sinead O’Connor in “Nothing Compares,” and “Songs for Drella,” about Lou Reed and John Cale’s farewell concert for the late Andy Warhol.

Master directors are present with “Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power” by Nina Menkes and Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” which follows the former politician and her astronaut husband as they turn toward her recovery from her 2011 shooting.

There are movies about food and the people who make it, led by “Julia,” about the first-ever celebrity chef, Julia Childs.

Ron Howard’s “We Feed People” followed chef Jose Andres when he left the restaurant world to cook and feed the hungry in global disaster zones.

More information and details about buying tickets and screening films can be found on the DocAviv site.

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