Last updated May 22nd 2016

The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev/Photo: Zohar Ron

The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev/Photo: Zohar Ron

The Alaev Family in concert are “an exuberant blast of energy, beautiful and wild, ancient and new.” With Patriarch and doyra master Allo Alaev at the helm, three generations fill the stage with traditional Bukharian music that dances to a world beat: Allo’s sons Ariel Alaev (accordion and vocals), Amin Alaev (percussion), and the grandchildren: Alan Alaev (drums & doyra), Zvi (Sivi) Alaev (clarinet), Aviva Alaev (violin), Amir Alaev (qanon) and Amanda on violin and vocals. Immigrating to Israel from Bukhara in the early 90s, just in time to ride the growing wave of interest in world music, they soon established themselves on the Israeli music scene. Onstage they are mesmerizing, their lively rhythms radiating joy. In The Wonderful Kingdon of Papa Alaev, directors Tal Barda and Noam Pinchas take a close and candid look at the Alaev family offstage, those who perform and tour with the band, as well as those who keep the home fires burning.

Papa Alaev is the undisputed big boss, selecting the repertoire, managing the family band, and overseeing the musical education of his growing tribe. In one of the film’s sweetest scenes, Allo Alaev is playing the doyra while one of the youngest grandchildren, a child of about two, drums on a plastic plate. The Alaev’s almost literally inhale music from the moment they are born. They are all wonderfully talented, yet how does it feel to grow up knowing that one must march to the beat of a very particular drum? The film reflects the close relationships and warmth of family life, with several generations living together, cooking and eating together, and making music together. Yet one also senses the tension between the desire to belong and the desire to find one’s own identity and path in life. As Allo Alaev says to grandson Sivi at one point: “I is not a suitable word. We.”

The film follows the family with warmth, humor and surprising candor, merging scenes of daily life – shopping, cooking, music practice, touring and performing, with individual interviews. The grandchildren, growing up in Israel, are exposed to different ways of life, and myriad different influences, both musical and ideological. Every personal decision affects the band, and belonging to the family band inevitably dictates a great deal of one’s personal life. Then there is also the one who in some sense does not belong. In addition to his sons Allo Alaev also has a daughter, Ada. She plays the qanon, yet she is not a member of the band. Ada’s story is one of the most colorful and vibrant threads in this family tapestry.

The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev will be shown at Docaviv 2016 on Friday, May 20th at 16:00 (Tel Aviv Cinematheque); Sunday, May 22nd at 19:30 at Beit Dani – this screening will be free admission and followed by a short performance of the Alaev Family; and Saturday, May 28th at 21:45 (Tel Aviv Cinematheque). The full schedule and ticket information may be found on the Docaviv website.

Read more about the Alaev Family and an interview with Sivi Alaev on Midnight East.

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