The 64th edition of DOK Leipzig will open on 25 October 2021 with the international premiere of The Rhine Flows to the Mediterranean Sea, a documentary by Offer Avnon. This film describes the impressions the director had while living in Germany and the way his perspective changed when he returned to Israel. Avnon, the son of a Polish survivor of the Shoah, lived in Germany for ten years. “Never, not for a single day” was he able to forget the Holocaust during that time.
In associative montages of images and conversations with people in Germany, Poland and ultimately in Israel, this film explores persistent traumas, mechanisms of repressing the pain, and attempts at reconciliation. What kind of dialogue is possible between relatives of perpetrators and victims? How does one’s identity or membership in a community mould one’s awareness and perception? With these questions in mind after his return, Avnon also takes a different view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is visibly inscribed in the social space of his home town of Haifa.
“The Rhine Flows to the Mediterranean Sea attempts the Sisyphean task of a localization between philo- and anti-Semites, the anxious and the indifferent, those who remember and those who suppress. Not an image or sentence that doesn’t trigger a multitude of associations. The devil is in the detail: This film opens our eyes to this,” Festival Director Christoph Terhechte states in the festival catalogue. “Offer Avnon gives fragmentary answers and each raises new questions. The search for the ‘uncanny’ he began with his film is far from over.”
Director Offer Avnon previously dealt with trauma and remembrance in his film Burden (2015). He studied acting, visual communication and film in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For ten years, he lived in Cologne, where he took part in theatre, video, photography and street art projects.
With its themes and its dialogue-based approach, the opening film of the 64th edition of the festival allows connections to be drawn to other works in this year’s DOK Leipzig programme. The Retrospective entitled “The Jews of the Others: Divided Germany, Distributed Guilt, Dissected Images” looks at portrayals of Jewishness and treatment of the Shoah in German and German-language film productions.
The Homage to documentary film director Avi Mograbi entitled “Secret Agent Avi” and the film The Good Soldier by Silvina Landsmann in competition for the Audience Award are further productions from Israel in the programme that focus on the Middle East conflict in the past and present.
DOK Leipzig’s opening ceremony will be held at 7 pm on 25 October 2021 at CineStar 8 with director Offer Avnon attending. Additionally, there will be a free public screening of The Rhine Flows to the Mediterranean Sea at 8:30 pm at Leipzig Central Station (Osthalle), which the filmmaker and the festival director will also attend.
You’ll find more information about the opening film here: The Rhine Flows to the Mediterranean Sea