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Doc Edge mixes it up

There are a number of differences to the DOC Edge Festival this year, including around the awards. Until this year, Doc Edge has handed out its gongs at fairly informal and enjoyable awards events, but that will change.

The upside to doing it that way has been that the event is its own thing and everybody’s there for a good time. The downside to it has always been that, with several international titles awarded, the winners are not present to collect.

This year’s solution is an interesting one. DOC Edge will split the presentations over two evenings, making both potentially short enough to give the Writers Guild’s SWANZ event a run for its money in the Most Succinct Awards Bash category.

Several awards will be presented immediately before Doc Edge’s opening night film, Erebus: Operation Overdue. The gongs will include four Best Film jury picks, for local and international short and feature-length docs. Festival organisers naturally hope that some additional publicity at the beginning of the festival will increase attendances.

The remainder of the awards will be presented on 29 May, the opening evening of the DOC Edge Forum when the Outstanding Contribution and DOC Pitch awardees will also be announced.

Entries for DOC Pitch close on Wednesday 23 April, making the upcoming Easter weekend a perfect time to nail one’s application.

A DOC Pitch judge says no..

A DOC Pitch judge says no..

Awards enthusiasts can follow up the Doc Edge second round of prize-giving on Thursday 29 with the Grand Finals of the 48Hours on Friday 30.

Returning for the festival this year is the 2011 festival opening filmmaker, Alexander O Philippe. Three years ago he was here with his popular and populist The People vs George Lucas. He returns with an equally populist if more contemporary Doc of the Dead.

Doc of the Dead: Is that a brain in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Doc of the Dead: Is that a brain in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Recently premiered at SXSW, the film promises “zombie experts, celebrities and YouTubers” – which could well be the same person – and will investigate “the possibility and ramifications of an actual zombie outbreak”. It’s good to know there are still filmmakers out there who don’t shy away from making public service documentaries.

Elsewhere in the festival, there are Americans, pretty much wherever your look. Over 50% of the titles programmed hail from the US, plus a couple more from north of the 49th.

Executive Director Dan Shanan noted that it’s just the way things panned out this year, that many of the best films submitted or secured happened to come from the US. Shanan would “like to see more variety” in origin of titles, but is programming a documentary festival, not a world film festival.

Over the weeks leading up to the Doc Edge Festival and Screen Edge Forum, screeNZ will take a closer look at some some of what’s on offer.

The Doc Edge Festival runs 21 May – 2 June at Q Theatre, Queen Street, Auckland; 5 – 15 June at the Roxy, Miramar, Wellington. The festival programme and information is here and tickets are on sale.

As not all attendees are yet confirmed, the website is also the best place to get up to date information about Q&A screenings.

The Screen Edge Forum runs 29 – 30 May at AUT, Auckland.