Yaniv, 28, lives with his parents in Kiryat Ata-a suburban city in northern Israel. Over the years, Yaniv witnesses best friends leave home, his little sister get married and leave home and his copywriting colleagues work and succeed in Tel Aviv, while he remains in the same place. Maayan (the filmmaker) and Yaniv have been friends for over 10 years. The film provides a glimpse into their honest companionship. Recently, Yaniv shares with Maayan his desire to leave home in order to become truly independent for the first time, even at the cost of risking his own life. Yaniv takes us on a journey full of humor, which challenges conventional thinking about what it means to be alive. The film displays life as a constant struggle between desire and determination, between body and spirit and between helplessness and optimism.

“My Friend ,Yaniv” is a short film which attempts to challenge the concept of “disability” and the way it represented in cinema. The goal was to avoid the dogmatic setting of a “sentimental” film about the unfortunate disabled person that succeeds against all odds. The film intently avoids creating such a buildup in which the viewer pities Yaniv, and at the same time the film refuses to glorify him as some kind of super hero. What stands in the center of the film is Yaniv himself, a unique and complex character abundant with humor and grace.

Participants: Yaniv Aviran, Maayan Schwartz / Director: Maayan Schwartz / Editor: Amir Jorji Cinematographers: Ran braginsky, Maayan Schwartz / Producer: Moran Nakar / Animation: Yarden Kuler, Yael Hen / Sound: Nevet Mazor, Matan Dorembus / Sound Design: Michal Gidon / Original Music: Hagai Glick

Both parents and students were fascinated and very moved. After the movie there was a discussion with the director, Maayan, where the students and the parents asked many questions. The movie presents Yaniv’s disability as one of a verity that each one of us has, and with much wisdom it manages to reveal other parts of his personality – his intelligence, sense of humor, confidence, dreams and achievements. The strongest message that the movie conveys is that there is no such thing as disabled, because Yaniv is actually so much more than his dysmorphic appearance.
Gal Atya

Manager of the Centre for Children with Special Needs, Kiryat Gat, Israel.

This movie is inspiring, thanks to its honesty and the mutual strong friendship between Yaniv and Maayan. It presents Yaniv’s character as a humours, strong, witty and intelligent individual. The movie expresses the beauty of humanity and friendship.
Shiri Levy

Film Journalist

The movie itself is made with sensitivity and integrity. it reveals a world that is usually hidden and unseen. It is an important movie that allows us to look straight ahead to what we are trying to avoid. it gives a voice to whom is usually silenced and kept away from the public eye. At the conversation after the movie, Maayan spoke with the crowd as their equal, shared his intentions with us and described the “behind the scenes” of the movie in a way that only the director could.
Dan Muggia

Head of the Department for Film Studies in Beit Berl Institute

A big thanks to Maayan and Yaniv, the star of the movie. the standing ovation and the excitement of the audience were everything I could have hoped for. I highly recommend for everyone to go and watch the film as soon as possible and book screenings anywhere possible.

Hazi Shoster

Head of the Spiritual Center, Neve Shalom

An amazing movie that gives so much strength and meaning to those who didn’t always have it easy. Only by watching Yaniv’s way of living, which is much more than coping with reality, by that alone it’s possible to grow as a person.

Hedva Cohen

Manager of the Culture Department, Netanya Municipality

We screened the movie “My Friend, Yaniv”, which describes affectionately and sensitively Yaniv’s story. Yaniv is dealing with severe muscular dystrophy, but he is actually much like you and me: a funny, witty, sensitive, aspiring and good hearted individual. There were parents of children with special needs in the audience as well as high school students. The screening was a moving and empowering experience that filled us all with hope.
Marian Center for Pre-Schoolers and their Families

The movie draws a portrait of a brave, enriching and inspiring character. The cinematic syntax creates Yaniv’s world in a sensitive, precise and intelligent way. Moreover, it gives a deep expression of the friendship between the director and Yaniv. Yaniv’s story a parable on the victory of spirit over matter against all odds.

Uri Barbash

Cinema and Television Director

It was a very empowering and fascinating experience. For some students it was the first time to encounter a person with special needs. Not to mention a smart, witty, creative and fascinating person with special needs. The movie speaks to the audience at eye level, emphasizes important challenges and allows, in a soft but accurate way, to see beyond the physical limitation, the incredibly witty and smart person that is within.
Dr Batel Hazan Liran

Special Education Professor, Tel-Hai University.

Screening & Talk

After the film’s great success in festivals around the world, Maayan and Yaniv began screenings in public, educational as well as private institutions.

In a fascinating and empowering encounter, Maayan and Yaniv present the film and share the creative process which has resulted from their unique relationship.

The audience has the opportunity to respond, ask Yaniv and Maayan questions and enjoy a discussion full of humor, which also presents a different perspective on life with disabilities. The funny and authentic dynamic between Maayan and Yaniv create a unique and fascinating encounter, that also casually shatters quite a few prejudices

Length of activity: 90 minutes

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