For My Children

Since her first film ACTING OUR AGE arrived on the scene at the Sundance Film Festival in 1987, Tel Aviv University film professor and filmmaker Michal Aviad has been known for amazing documentaries that break down the boundaries between personal stories and public histories. Her award-winning works include: THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR, filmed during the first Palestinian Intifada; JENNY AND JENNY, following Mizrahi teenagers coming of age in a working-class town; and RAMLEH, about four women in a Jewish-Arab community. The Festival will show clips from her past work preceding the screening of her new film, which will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. In October 2000, as the second Palestinian Intifada erupts, Israeli filmmaker Michal Aviad begins a video exploration about both the moral and mundane dilemmas she faces every day in Tel Aviv. What begins with deceptive simplicity-a tender scene of sending the children off to school-quickly becomes a profound study of vulnerability and anxiety. Small acts like crossing the street are charged with inescapable fear. As the nightmare of violence escalates over the coming months, Michal and her husband Shimshon ask the quintessential Diaspora Jewish question, "When is it time to go?" The question reverberates through a stream of images-public and private, home video and historic archival footage-as her parents and extended family recount their own journeys to Israel from Europe, escaping death and the Holocaust, and from America, out of ideological commitment to Israel. Their stories are told with vivid, beautiful detail-at a bucolic family picnic, during a vacation on the California coast-and with a degree of candor and intimacy rarely seen in Israeli cinema. "I don't want to be an immigrant," says Shimshon, a political activist whose profound feelings about displacement and exile are interwoven with TV images of war, children asleep in their beds, grandma making pasta and the sounds of sirens. Tanks roll over the hills as tea is being made in the kitchen in a cosmic seesaw between blissful domesticity and the nightmare of public life, in this deeply moving and riveting video essay. -Deborah Kaufman
MICHAL AVIAD has been working as a director and producer of documentary films in San Francisco and Tel Aviv since 1986. Among her films are the 1987 award-winning American documentary Acting Our Age (60 min, 16mm), which she produced and directed. The film explores women and aging and was part of many international film festivals including the U.S. Sundance Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival. The film was aired in many countries and was selected in 1988 to be the first program on PBS's P.O.V documentary series. In 1992 Aviad produced and directed The Women Next Door (80-min, 16mm). Filmed during the Intifada, the film examines the roles of Palestinian and Israeli women in the conflict. The film was part of the Forum in the Berlin International Film Festival where it received Honorable Mention. It took part of many festivals including Jerusalem, Pesaro, Munich, Chicago, San Paolo, Portugal, and INPUT '93. The film was aired in many countries including a national broadcast on PBS's P.O.V. series. In 1995 she directed Ever Shot Anyone? (produced by Amit Goren, 60-min, beta.) This documentary explores Israeli male culture from a woman's point of view. The video was part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Feminale, the Liepzig Film Festival, INPUT '96, London Jewish Film Festival, Washington Jewish Film Festival, Flaherty film Seminar and many others. It was aired in Canada, Israel, Holland, Denmark, Russia and other countries. In 1997 Aviad completed producing and directing Jenny & Jenny (60 min Beta), a film on two teenage working-class Israeli girls. Jenny & Jenny was awarded Best Israeli Documentary for 1997 from the Israel Film Institute. It was part of the Jerusalem International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Boston Film Festival, Feminale, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Films des Femmes in France and INPUT '98. To date it was aired in Germany, Sweden and Israel. In July 2001 Aviad completed directing and co-producing Ramleh (60-min Beta, co-produced by Yulie Gerstel,) a social-political film about the lives of four women in the town of Ramleh. Ramleh, a Jewish- Arab town, is a powerful example to the disintegration of a country of displaced people torn by religious, national and cultural differences. The film premiered at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. Currently Aviad is working on A Letter To My Children (co-produced by Yulie Gerstel), a personal film about the history and events in the life of one family of immigrants and refugees. This film, which is co-produced with Israel and ZDF-ARTE will be ready in Summer 2002. Aviad teaches film production at Tel Aviv University. She is also the coordinator of the Tel Aviv International Students Film Festival.
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