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Doc Edge 2012 announces first films

Doc Edge’s 2012 edition runs a little later than this year’s, but the first half dozen titles selected have been announced, including a local offering that’s NZ’s first 3D documentary.

South Island-based Rachael Wilson’s independently-funded Yakel 3D explores the fragility of one of the last primitive cultures. Set in a remote Vanuatu tribal village and shot over a three year period, this is the remarkable story of 108-year-old Chief Kowia near the end of his long, eventful life. Survivor of tribal wars, colonization, epidemics & WWII he’s rejected the modern world in favour of a life free of material goods.

Of the five films by overseas directors announced, the best-known name will surely be Oscar winner Martin Scorsese, whose Public Speaking will screen in the festival.

It’s Scorsese’s take on the life and times of Fran Lebowitz; one of America’s iconic literary figures. Having come through as an unknown scribe for Andy Warhol, Lebowitz made her indelible, eclectic and acerbic mark in the United States from columns she wrote for Interview magazine through to becoming the acclaimed author she is today.

Documenting those who, in their own way, document continues to be a theme with the selection of Life In Stills and Incessant Visions.

In Tamar Tal’s Life In Stills, 96 year old Miriam Weissenstein and her grandson join forces to save a photo shop … and the one million negatives documenting Israel’s defining moments that were Miriam’s late husband’s life’s work.

Duki Dror’s Incessant Visions chronicles the life of architect Erich Mendelsohn, whose buildings around the world changed the history of architecture. The film tells an untold story of Erich and wife Louise.

The theme of violence pairs the final two films announced, Dolphin Boy and The Interrupters.

Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir’s Dolphin Boy follows Morad – a teenager from an Arab village who has disconnected himself from humans following a violent attack. In a last ditch effort to prevent him being hospitalized in a Mental Institution, he is taken to be treated with dolphins. After months of silence, Morad begins speaking again – however, he has erased his past and refuses to return home to his mother.

From the director of Hoop Dreams Steve James and writer of There Are No Children Here Alex Kotlowitz, The Interrupters looks at “violence interrupters” in Chicago who with bravado, humility and even humor try to protect their communities from the violence they once employed. The Interrupters won special jury prizes at Sheffield Doc/Fest and Miami, but didn’t make this year’s Oscar shortlist.

Another theme, albeit an accidental one, running through the selections announced is that half of them are from Israel (Dolphin Boy, Incessant Visions, Life in Stills). It’s a coincidence according to Festival Director Dan Shanan. He said that the films evidenced the very healthy documentary-making culture in Israel. (Incessant Visions and Dolphin Boy both screened in competition at this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival, which usually has a strong local documentary programme.) Here, Doc Edge regularly receives a good number of high quality submissions from Israel.

The Doc Edge Festival will run in Auckland at Event Cinemas, Newmarket, 26 April – 13 May 2012; and in Wellington at Angelika at Reading Cinemas, Courtney Place, 17 May – 3 June.

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