Duki Dror directed and produced creative documentaries for the past 20 years. His films are character-driven stories and deal with issues of identity, displacement and cross-cultural exchange. In 2010, PBS (with more than 100 stations nation-wide) programmed a special series with 3 of his films: My Fantasia, Raging Dove and The Journey of Vaan Nguyen.
Dror was born in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur 1963. His parents were born in Baghdad, Iraq, from which they have fled in the 1950’s. When his father was 17, he was imprisoned for 5 years in Iraq, charged for being a "Zionist." After his release he changed his Arabic last name Darwish ("wanderer"), to the Hebrew name Dror ("Freedom"). His story is the subject of Dror's diary film My Fantasia (2000), which takes place in the family owned Menorah factory in Tel Aviv, during the Gulf war.
Duki Dror studied theater and classical studies in UCLA and graduated Colombia Collage film school in Chicago. His graduate film, Sentenced to Learn (1993), which tells the story of life-time inmates in Illinois prisons, was selected to screen in a historical retrospective of American Documentary at the Pompidou Center in Paris, alongside with films such as "Route 1, USA", "Sherman's March" and "Titicut Follies".
With the Oslo Agreement of 1993 between Israelis and Palestinians, Dror was drawn back home in a time of change. In "Peace Chronicles" (1994, Channel 4) he was responsible (as a researcher and field director) for documenting the first year after the Oslo Agreement, by following Palestinians and Israelis in their hopes and fears.
In 1996 he made Radio Daze – the peculiar life of a radio-quiz-show-star, whom for him, was a reverse-metaphor for what he viewed as the “consumer-crazed” Israeli society. In Café Noah (1996), and Taqasim (1999), Dror exposed the work of musicians from Iraq and Egypt, who immigrated to Israel during the 50’s and never got any recognition for their art. In 1998 he collaborated with Rashid Mashrawi on the first Israeli-Palestinian co-production “Stress” - an impressionist documentary in two parts about the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. That same year he also completed Red Vibes (1998), which followed a group of young artists who immigrated to Israel from Russia and were spreading a subversive neo-communist ideology.
A moment before the dream of peace turned into an outbreak of violence in the Middle-east, Dror filmed Raging Dove (2002), a film which tells the story of Johar Abu Lashin, a world boxing champion who dreams of bringing peace through the boxing ring. The film won many awards and distributed world wide. A year later, Dror initiated and produced Paradise Lost (2003) by Ibtisam Mara’ana. For the first time in Israel, a ground-breaking film was made by a Palestinian-Israeli woman director. Dror was also involved as a producer and co-director with other films: Mr. Cortisone Happy Days (2004), a stomach-turning documentary praised by French newspaper Le Monde when it screened at Cinema Du Reel. The film was a winner of the ”Audience Award” at EBS Seoul Documentary film festival and “Ghandi Award” at Documenta Madrid. Collaborators (2004) a film about 2 Palestinian collaborators, who live on the rough side of Tel Aviv, and A General's Story (2005) about a peculiar man who suffers from combat fatigue.
The Journey of Vaan Nguyen (2005) was Dror next film. It tells the story of Vietnamese refugees who arrived by boats to Israel in the late 70’s. These ‘boat people’ built a temporary home for themselves in Israel and now when they want to return to Vietnam, their children face an identity conflict. This film opened the EBS Seoul Documentary Film Festival and the Asian American Film Festival.
Side Walk (2007) was for Dror an interesting experiment. In this completely observational film he followed school children on their daily way to school and back home and composed it as one single journey (premiered at: Docs Barcelona and Docaviv). In Across The River (2009), he followed an Ethiopian born HIV activist back to his village in Ethiopia to tell a moving story full of self revelations. In 2011 Dror completed (as a producer and editing director) Seekers, a disturbing video-diary about a rebellious bunch of young adults from a kibbutz, which was bankrupt both financially and ideologically. Filming its heroes for 14 years, as they go from one extreme - of reckless drug parties to anther extreme - of ultra-religiousness, this film is a rare look at Israeli male identity. After the film was censored for a couple of years it made an appearance in 2013 at Krakow International Film Festival.
Duki Dror's latest film Mendelsohn's Incessant Visions (2011) is somewhat different from his previous films – it is a historic film based on letter exchange between master modern architect Erich Mendelsohn and his wife, Louise. It is a "hybrid film", mixing different cinematic tools from different genres. The film has been released theatrically in Germany and Israel and won prestigious awards.This year, he co-created Photonovela (2013), a film diary about a girl who must draw her heritage-tree as a Bat Mitzva assignment and finds a past full of mysteries and surprises.
Currently, Dror is working on the production of 3 new films: Shadow in Baghdad Street (release end of 2013) Linda Abdul Aziz is searching the whereabouts of her father, who disappeared, like tens of thousands Iraqis, during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Revolution Girls (expected release 2014) Anat and Rola are two wise business women from Ramallah and Kibbutz Mizrah who are running a partnership against all odds. Farhood, a historical documentary that examines the unknown political scam behind the 1941 massacre of Jews in Baghdad.