Sarajevo Film Festival 2024

«It’s crucial…that the program and films add to the audience’s life and could make a difference, even if it is a very small one»

DOCAVIV / Artistic Director Karin Rywkind Segal on the festival's 24th edition.

With the 24th DocAviv coming to a close on 5 June, Modern Times Review spoke with the Tel Aviv festival’s Artistic Director Karin Rywkind Segal.

DocAviv 2022 awarded several films at the start of the weekend with Itamar Alcalay and Meital Zvieli’s The Camera of Dr. Morris taking home the Frank Lowy Award for the Best Israeli Film and Diem Ha Le’s Children of the Mist honoured in the International Competition.

Here, we speak about the role of the festival Artistic Director, lessons learned from the pandemic, and Karin’s original interests in the documentary form.

After two editions during the pandemic when we were extremely limited with inviting filmmakers from overseas, I am so thrilled to welcome filmmakers from all over the world.

In your words, what is the role and responsibility of a festival’s Artistic Director? How does this play into your own approach to the role?
As I see it, the role is mainly to curate a diverse festival that promotes the art of documentary filmmaking. To tailor a bold program that creates engagement, excitement, and mostly awareness and discussions. As we are a documentary film festival, it’s our role to also react to the complexity that surrounds us, near and far.

We also have a great responsibility towards the filmmakers whose films we selected; to support them and provide them with the best platform and safe environment for their films. Many of them are very courageous, both in content and form.

I am trying to create a fine balance between a program that addresses the current burning issues and promoting the viewer’s cinematic experience, introducing them to new approaches, and new ideas, to really open their minds. It’s crucial for me that the program and films add to the audience’s life and could make a difference, even if it is a very small one.

After two years of pandemic related adjustments, DocAviv is back in physical form? What are some new or different aspects of the festival this year vs. the last physical edition?
The festival edition this year is still a hybrid one (but also last year’s), though at the moment there are no more health restrictions, there are still audiences who prefer to attend online. However, we have so far witnessed that more people are physically attending the festival and learned that people are enjoying both platforms, so in general more films are being seen per person. As opposed to last year’s edition, this year we have invited international guests, jurors and filmmakers, and this of course adds a very important layer to the whole festival experience.

Do you feel like there are some permanent changes to the festival landscape as a result of the pandemic?
I honestly don’t know yet, we are all adjusting to this flux situation, and I think the word permanent is a word of the past. I do feel, at least for now, that viewing habits have changed, audiences are enjoying both the physical and online screenings and they tend to buy tickets closer to the screening dates whereas in the past they would buy a month in advance.

What aspects of the 2022 DocAviv festival are you personally and particularly looking forward to?
After two editions during the pandemic when we were extremely limited with inviting filmmakers from overseas, I am so thrilled to welcome filmmakers from all over the world. The dialogue of the audiences with the filmmakers makes a huge difference and adds an important layer to the audience festival experience but also connects the filmmakers with different audiences and other filmmakers. I am also very excited about the variety of films at the festival that use archival materials in such a sophisticated and creative manner. I have a strong connection and love to archival footage and I do not know if it’s the pandemic that allowed filmmakers to dive into such materials but the fact is that there are just superb films in this year’s selection.

For you, is there a seminal film, filmography, or filmmaker that really kick-started your interest in documentary?
Ah, there are so many really, but I can name the following as a good start, Stan Brakhage, Warhol, especially Blow job, Albert and David Maysles with Charlotte Zwerin and Agnes Varda. It’s a question that really excites me as it makes me acknowledge how many amazing filmmakers there are that really changed and affected my way of looking and thinking.

Steve Rickinson
Steve Rickinson
Steve lives in Bucharest, Romania. He is Communications Manager and Industry Editor of MTR.

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