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Doc Edge 2011 here already

The Doc Edge Festival 2011 opens tonight with a gala screening of The People vs George Lucas. This weekend’s Doc Lab and next Saturday’s Doc Pitch participants are announced, with three names cropping up on both lists.

Faramarz Beheshti, whose Salam Rugby screened in last year’s NZFF, pops up in both events, putting Persiana through its paces at the Lab (21-22 Feb) before pitching it the following weekend at the Forum’s DocPitch competition. Heather Lee’s Me’a Kai_True Pacific and Paula Jones’ Varayame’s Feet will also follow the same path.

Briar March’s There Once Was An Island, a Doc Pitcher some years ago (and since then a Grand Prix Winner at FIFO) also returns to Doc Edge for the Lab as producer Lyn Collie looks at developing an interactive version.

Other returnees, in different ways, include Justin Pemberton, who takes Tragic Beauty to the Lab while Is She or Isn’t He? screens in the festival; Anna Cottrell will pitch Running for His Life and has Lest We Forget screening in the festival.

Julia Parnell gets two bites at the pitching cherry, having had both One in a Million and The Fight For Fiji selected.

On the other side of the table, a mix of new and familiar faces from both here and overseas will lend their time and experience to Lab participants and pitchers. Returning guests include Pixeco’s James Franklin, whose Doc Edge and X Media Lab sessions in Auckland and Melbourne respectively were very received last year, returns as a mentor for the Lab and presents a two-part masterclass at the Forum.

The Forum offers two other masterclasses. Producer and editor James Brookman offers insights insights into creating compelling trailers and teasers, something he’s done for Florian Habicht, Jim Jarmusch, Leanne Pooley, Gaylene Preston and Vincent Ward among others. Director, DOP and damn-near Oscar nominee Tom Burstyn (This Way of Life, Insatiable Moon) will discuss how documentary and drama techniques merge in his internationally acclaimed works.

It seems impossible to keep Wendy Levy and Pat Ferns away from Doc Edge, as 2011 will be at least the third visit for each of them – which is a blessing for the events as they both bring with them enormous amounts of knowledge. Also returning for the Pitch panel are Screen Australia’s Julia Overton, TVNZ and TV3’s respective commissioners Jude Callen and Sue Woodfield, and South Pacific Pictures’ John Barnett.

Among the new faces, Jenny Ross takes over the job of representing Al Jazeera on the Doc Pitch panel from the now departed (as in moved on, not shuffled off) Fiona Lawson-Baker. Keiko Bang, co-organiser of Asian Side of the Doc and founder of Singapore-based Bang Productions (a name you really shouldn’t google with Safe Search switched off) makes her first appearance at Doc Edge, as does Finnish commissioner Outi Saarikoski-Schimberg.

Of the locals, Script to Screen chair Kath Akuhata-Brown wears the NZFC hat at the Pitch Competition and Gibson Group’s Dave Gibson also joins the panel.

The Forum runs 25 – 27 February at AUT, Auckland. Registration info is here.

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