Solidarity is the only film festival in Israel dedicated in its entirety to groundbreaking films that deal with human rights struggles
The international festival shows films encompassing relevant topics such as political and social protest, activism, resistance to occupation, women's rights, children and youth rights, LGBTQ+ rights, institutional corruption and government crimes, the struggle against online pornography, labor struggles, abortion bans, refugees and asylum seekers, globalization, hunger, poverty, freedom of speech, and the fight against racism. The festival's program presents over 50 new films from Israel and around the world, Israeli film competitions and homages to local directors, lectures, panels, Q&As and discussions with filmmakers and human rights activists. The international program will show Israeli premieres of feature and documentary films by filmmakers, mostly female, from around the world. The Israeli program includes new films and premiere screenings, an Israeli film contest focused on human rights, homages to local filmmakers and thought-provoking meetings to spur action for a better future.
Solidarity – The only film festival in Israel dedicated to human rights, will take place online this year, from December 3-10, 2020. The festival raises socio-political issues in Israel through the screening of groundbreaking films that deal with human rights from Israel and abroad, which seek to promote human rights, equality, and social justice.
The festival, initiated by the Festival Director, Dani Vilenski, has been taking place annually since 2010, and produced since 2015 by the Solidarity for Art, Activism and Human Rights, association; the Artistic Director is Gidi Avivi, and the event is held in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
The festival is held out of belief in the power of cinema to provoke thought and action for a more just future and a better future in Israel, the region, and the entire world. Especially in these days, with the democratic idea under threat, it is important to courageously sound a clear, free, and unambiguous voice.
The international program – a wide variety of award-winning films, with an emphasis on female creators of current feature and documentary films carrying the voices of women from all around the world.
Among the international documentary films featured at the Solidarity 2020 festival:
CAUGHT IN THE NET (Czech Republic, 2020). A gut-wrenching film about the spread of pedophilia through social networks, directed by Barbora Chalupová and Vít Klusák.
THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE (New Zealand, 2020) Directed by Leanne Pooley, this film deals with the phenomenon of suicide among the younger generation.
THE 8TH (Ireland, United States, 2020) A film by three female directors Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle) dealing with the complete ban on abortions in Ireland and the story of the fight and great victory by activists who did all they could to give control over their own bodies back to Irish women.
RADIO SILENCE (Switzerland, Mexico 2019) The courageous documentary by director Juliana Fanjul about justice fighter Carmen Aristegui, a popular radio host fighting the brutal crimes of the Mexican regime.
WEIYENA – THE LONG MARCH HOME (Austria, 2020) A film by directors Weina Zhao and Judith Benedikt is amoving journey of an artist seeking her identity between Vienna and Beijing.
TASTE OF HOPE (Switzerland, 2019) by Laura Coppens, shedding a light on the story of the famous labor struggle at industry giant Unilever, which decided to shut down a small tea factory in Provence.
Silêncio – VOICES OF LISBON (Portugal, Hungary 2020) by Céline Coste Carlisle and Judit Kalmár, examines the links between the fading out of traditional Fado music and gentrification in Lisbon.
THROUGH THE NIGHT (US, 2020) Loira Limblar’s film deals with the oppressive economic reality of single motherhood.
FINDING SALLY (Canada 2020) by Tamara Mariam Dawit, born and raised in Canada, who moves to Ethiopia to explore the roots of her family woes and its history.
THE RED ORCHESTRA (Germany, Belgium, Israel 2020). A world premiere of the fascinating documentary directed by Carl-Ludwig Rettinger, exposing the story of a network of anti-Nazi spies and its heroes, Nazi officer Harro Schulze-Boysen and Jewish Leopold Trepper.
WHEN THE BOYS RETURN (Norway, 2012). Tone Andersen’s documentary deals with the reality of arrested Palestinian teens; exposing the tragic consequences of the incarceration of youths born into a reality of occupation.
Among the international feature films at the Solidarity 2020 Festival:
THE END WILL BE SPECTACULAR (Syria, Iraq, Spain, 2019) by Ersin Çelik, based on the journals of Kurdish freedom fighters, focusing on women – the unexpected heroines of the revolution.
Two films by Georgian director Dito Tsintsadze, INHALE-EXHALE (Georgia, 2019), the story of a woman who deviates from the norms of the conservative environment that surrounds her, and the Georgian nominee for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award, SHINDISI (Georgia, 2019), based on a real story occurring during the ceasefire in the Russian-Georgian war, showing the human side on an unhuman war.
THE FLYING CIRCUS (Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania, 2019) by Fatos Berisha, based on the director’s real experiences, celebrates the world of theatre, the necessity of art during war, and the artists who are willing to sacrifice themselves for it.
ZANA (Kosovo, Albania, 2019) Antoneta Kastrati’s debut film deals with the personal tragedy of a small village woman in torn apart and post-war Kosovo, full of bloody memories.
The Israeli Cinema Program: Israeli film contests, solidarity meetings and tributes to leading filmmakers in local cinema
The Israeli program includes premiers and selections of the best Israeli films dealing with human rights, Israeli film contests, tributes to outstanding local filmmakers, solidarity meetings, lectures, discussions, and special events.
Israeli film competitions
The Israeli film contests will debut a full feature film contest in honor of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, who died this year, in which four films will compete:
4 films in the Israeli Feature Film Contest in honor of Prof. Zeev Sternhell:
Director: Yakie Ayalon, 2020
The children of the Essien family were torn away from their lives in Israel and put into a harsh reality in Nigeria, where they became penniless drifters. The only one who worked and barely provided for the family was the eldest daughter, Esther. Her status changes when she gets a one-time permit to return to Israel by herself. Now it’s clear she must save her family - and bring it home.
And I Was There
Director: Eran Paz, 2019
Random trance music raves in the living room are quite common when it comes to teenagers. But what happens when the teens are Israeli soldiers, the living room belongs to a Palestinian family and the family members are locked in one of the rooms?
18 years after his military service, Eran Paz finds a box of video tapes featuring rare documentations of his squad mates infiltrating Palestinian houses in the occupied territories. Now he embarks on a journey following the people, memories and places which flood his thoughts and leave him restless.
Director: Molly Stewart, 2019
Atalya dreams of being a combat soldier, but as she grows up, she begins to doubt her predestinated path. She learns of the army’s role in the occupied territories and decides to refuse enlistment, despite her parent’s advice and her family’s military heritage. She becomes a conscientious objector, and is imprisoned. Her courage drives her family and friends to rethink their positions and their ability to influence. “She Refuses” follows Atalya during her decision to become a conscientious objector and her incarceration through her efforts to coincide her Jewish identity and love of the land with her commitment to human rights. The film offers a new perception of the conflict through the eyes of a young Israeli finding her voice.
In The Director’s Chair Sits A Woman
Director: Smadar Zamir, 2020
A feministic cinematic essay dedicated to Israeli female feature film directors. The story of the work of the first Israeli female director Ellida Geira, as told through the monologues of 24 active female directors and one speech by Ronit Elkabetz, invokes a cinematic quilt of the image of the directress. The spiraled, intuitive, and associative structure presents the experiences of the women who wish to tell stories in the local film industry – a male dominant work environment going through changes. Their stories are the stories of all of us, women alike and unique, and provide a multi-reflectional and multi-faceted magic mirror of those women who seek to make themselves heard.
In addition, the festival will host award bearing Israeli film contests by the Zulat Institute for Equality and Human Rights for 15 films in a short film contest, and 17 films in a student’s film contest, and also a young filmmakers’ contest for high school students, with 8 films competing.
New Israeli documentaries not in competition
Director: Amir Har-Gil, documentary, 2020
Two young social activists, just beginning the path, find their way to 90 year old Yair Tzaban, ex-former minister and member of Knesset, who dedicated his life to improving the social and political state in Israel, and learn how to change reality even when you are in the minority.
Director: Yulie Cohen, documentary, 2020
More than seven decades ago, the members of the provisional state council (“Moetzet Ha’Am”) convened to draft the state of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Every word and every comma induced hours of debate. The declaration was signed, the state was formed, but the arguments still rage on. The grandchildren of the signers of the declaration return to the Tel Aviv hall in which it was signed. Who are the descendants of the 37 people who formed the state? What do they think of it today? Will the agree on one correct path for Israel? Our Natural Right resurfaces the issues the Jewish society in Israel still hasn’t found answers to, more than 70 years after it first tried to do so.
Director: Adi Sadaka, documentary, 2020
It’s been 10 years since I’ve been diagnosed with a mental disability. One that includes dealing with depression, anxiety and auditory illusions. I spent half of the last decade believing I would never find love. That I would never find the woman who will agree to stay by me. A brave soul who would accompany me through the sleepless nights, and abyssal fears. On March 3rd, 2020, I married my partner of five years. The wedding was exciting and all sorts of political (as expected of a lesbian wedding). A few days later, we were to be off on our honeymoon, but then came COVID-19, locking us down in an ever so intense honeymoon at home, quarantined in the city of Haifa.
Director: Ido Hen, documentary, 2020
A journey back through deep trauma, an intense service in a special forces unit in the occupied territories. What happened to me, what I did to others, and how touching on where it hurts can help to heal.
Trial of the Bankers
In august 2014, following an illegal seizure order against his spouse, lawyer Barak Cohen decides to launch a public struggle against the heads of the Israeli banking system, and created a new model of civil disobedience, demanding personal responsibility of decision makers. The effectivity and public commotion raised by the campaign lead the heads of banks, the state attorney and the police to try to stop Barack and his friends’ activities by any means. The culmination of this silencing attempt was the “Trial of The Bankers”. The allegations included such severe charges as conspiracy to commit a crime and extortion, as if taken from a trial against a dangerous crime syndicate. But Barak and his friends were not deterred. For them it was an invitation to turn the charges against them into an indictment against the heads of the banking system. A move crowned as a stunning success. The film Trial of The Bankers follows the six activists on trial from the first steps of their activities through to their resounding victory against those who wished to silence them. The meeting will feature a debut of selected scenes from the film, which is currently in the making.
Best of B’Tselem 2020
Although the annexation of the territories declared this year did not come to fruition, the de-facto annexation has long been a fait accompli. A selection of clips shot by field researchers and volunteers of B’Tselem’s camera project in the West Bank shows how Israel treats the area as it pleases: violence and deadly shootings by soldiers, settler violence assisted by the military, destruction of homes, tree uprooting and many more unpleasant sights and must-knows. At the end of the screening, B’Tselem’s field research director, Kareem Jubran, and international advocacy officer Sarit Michaeli will take questions from the audience.
For many around the world, 2020 was a difficult year. In the Gaza strip, it was the year in which it officially turned into a non-liveable place, according to the UN. The inhabitants of the strip are forced to deal with civilian casualties, live fire against protesters, and a siege in its 15th year, with devastating repercussions. All these are seldom discussed in the Israeli public sphere, as is our responsibility as Israelis for the fate of the 2 million people of Gaza. The evening will feature documentary footage from the strip and a discussion with audience participation with B’Tselem’s field researchers in Gaza, Olfat al-Kurd and Khaled al-'Azayzeh.
The festival, along with human rights organizations and filmmakers from Israel and around the world, will host a special event focusing on the arrests of children and teenagers in the occupied territories. The event will include a screening of a selection of scenes from Ada Ushpiz’s new documentary – “Children”, a short film by Einat Weizmann and Emy Sfard – “99.7% Convictions” and a special screening of Norwegian director Tone Andersen’s documentary feature – “When The Boys Return”.
Marking 15 years of struggle against the wall in Bil'in
The festival, along with human rights organizations from Israel and the world, will hold a special collection of screenings and discussions marking 15 years of struggle against the separation wall in Bil’in. Among the films to be screened: “Budrus”, “Life on Wheels”.
Tributes to local filmmakers
Yehuda Judd Neeman – Nuzhat al Fuad, 2006 – Judd Neeman’s feature film created a new interpretation of the post-modern language, through a narrative related to the viewer by different narrators, which reimagines the conventions of form.
Ram Levy – “The Film That Never Was”, 1995 – a documentary focusing on a dozen detailed testimonies of torture in security related investigations performed by Shin Bet, IDF and Israeli police forces. The film includes official responses.
Eyal Sivan – “Jaffa – Story of a Brand”, 2006 – a documentary of the history of Palestine-Eretz Israel as seen through the brand which became most recognized with it, “Jaffa” oranges.
2021 will see screenings of selected works from the festival, accompanied by social discussions and lectures, in the “Solidarity Cinema” and “Peripheral Solidarity” series, organized by the foundation along with MAZON and other social organizations.
The Solidarity for Art, Activism and Human Rights association is not supported by the ministry of culture. The Solidarity festival, as a transformative social event, is funded by contributions, grants and volunteer work.
The Festival is supported by: Tel Aviv Municipality, Tel Aviv Cinematheque, The European Union, the Goethe-Institut Israel, MAZON, BSST British Shalom-Salaam Trust, the New Israel Fund, Zulat Institute for Equality and Human Rights headed by Zehava Galon, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and Sicha Mekomit.
Solidarity – Tel Aviv Human Rights Film Festival will be held online this year on December 3-10, 2020. Full programs for film screenings, festival events and ticket purchases: www.solidaritytlv.org