2017 brings the latest crop of the globe’s best documentaries to New Zealand audiences for the highly-anticipated Doc Edge Festival. The Festival boasts a programme of impact-making, award-winning feature length and short films, covering a vast range of human experiences.
With well over 700 submissions, it has been a feat to whittle the selection down to the most intriguing, engaging, uplifting, and incredible new documentaries, both from home (NZ), and around the world. Doc Edge is thrilled to announce the first nine films to be shown at this year’s festival.
A selection of highly-acclaimed international documentaries brings stories from India, Syria, Papua New Guinea, America and beyond. The outstanding line-up includes:-
Last Men in Aleppo: Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: World Cinema Documentary, Last Men in Aleppo is an unforgettable portrait of reluctant heroes in Syria. Nowhere is the human toll of Syria’s ongoing civil war more brutally manifest than in the lives of Aleppo’s “White Helmets”—first responders to the devastating bombing and terrorist attacks that have pushed this city to the brink of collapse. An ode to courage and compassion, documented by Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, Danish filmmaker Steen Johannessen, and the Aleppo Media Center.
The Cinema Travellers: Filmmakers Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya have wowed audiences with their Cannes L’Œil d’or Special Mention: Le Prix du documentaire award-winning film, looking at the travelling cinemas of India. Showmen riding cinema lorries have brought the wonder of the movies once every year to faraway villages in India. Seven decades on, as their cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their patrons are lured by slick digital technology. A benevolent showman, a shrewd exhibitor and a maverick projector mechanic bear a beautiful burden – to keep the last traveling cinemas of the world running. Both directors will attend the Festival.
The Opposition: Director Hollie Fifer’s feature film was programmed to play the at 2016 Doc Edge Festival, but was withdrawn when it faced a court case brought on by a subject in the film. The Opposition follows a small Papua New Guinean community fighting to retain their land in the face of commercial development. Hollie and the production companies behind the film successfully defended The Opposition’s right to be seen publicly, and the film premiered at IDFA 2016 and won the Grand Jury Prize at FIFO Tahiti 2017. Hollie will attend the Festival.
Thank You For Playing: When Ryan, a video game designer, learns that his young son, Joel, has cancer, he and his wife begin documenting their emotional journey by creating an unusual and poetic video game, called “The Dragon, Cancer”. Captured by filmmakers David Osit & Malika Zouhali-Worrall who previously made “Call Me Kuchu”, Thank You For Playing offers an intimate, revolutionary glimpse into the complexity of grief. The film has been shown at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, including Tribeca, Camden and IDFA.
The Pulitzer at 100: Directed by Oscar and Emmy winning director Kirk Simon, the film is told through the riveting stories of the artists that have won the prestigious prize, since its establishment in 1917. Power, immigration, race and identity are all central themes in interviews featuring Toni Morrison, Carl Bernstein, Nick Kristof, Wynton Marsalis, Tracky Smith, Michael Chabon, and readings by Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, and Liev Schreiber.
Sacred: Shot by more than 40 filmmaking teams around the world, Sacred immerses the viewer in the daily use of faith and spiritual practice. The film was helmed by Academy Award winning director, Thomas Lennon. At a time when religious hatreds dominate the world’s headlines, this beautiful documentary explores a wide range of religious traditions told without narration, without experts and, at times, without words at all.
Stranger in Paradise: Operating at the intersection of documentary and fiction, Guido Hendrikx’s Stranger in Paradise investigates the power relations between Europe and refugees. In this unflinching film essay, Europe is represented by a teacher who both welcomes and rejects the class of recent refugees – personifying the complicated relationships and policies of the disparate continent. Guido will attend the Festival.
The New Zealand selection features a full length feature from a NZ based filmmaker, and a poignant short film focusing on the inspirational journey of a young Cantabrian;
Hoka Hey: A Good Day to Die: Discover the life story and extraordinary adventures of British war photographer, Jason P. Howe, who survived 12 years on the frontline of four wars. New Zealand based filmmaker, Harold Monfils, brings this eye-opening work to the screen after six years in the making. The photojournalist Howe will astound audiences with the extreme lengths he goes to, even embroiling himself in a love affair with an assassin.
The Common Touch: Jakob Ross Bailey made global headlines in 2015 with his touching speech delivered at the Christchurch Boys’ High School Prizegiving, just days after learning of his life-threatening cancer diagnosis. The Common Touch, directed by student filmmaker Mason Cade Packer, follows this exceptional young man on his quest to inspire others.
The Doc Edge International Film Festival runs 10 – 21 May at the Roxy Cinema, Miramar; and 24 May – 5 June at Q Theatre, Auckland.