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Documentor at large

These days, documentary film is one part of Oscar and Emmy-nominee Frederick Marx’s broader activity, much of which is around social issues. Describing himself as a documentor, those broader interests brought him back to NZ a couple of weeks ago, to put his mentoring skills to use on a workshop programme for the local branch of the Mankind Project, and at a clinic for Documentary Edge.

Marx’s first contact with Doc Edge was several years ago, when Marx’s Journey from Zanskar played in the festival in 2010. His interests have long leaned towards the social issues area of documentary making, including achieving considerable success with Hoop Dreams, which Marx co-wrote with 2015 Doc Edge guest Steve James and produced with James and 2011 guest Peter Gilbert (who later produced and shot part of Annie Goldson’s Brother Number One).

During this visit Marx ran a clinic for doco makers during the holiday weekend, sandwiched between screenings of his Journey from Zanskar and parts of the 2.5 hour Boys to Men?. The clinic considered a number of in-development projects, with Marx facilitating group discussions, posing questions (for both the projects’ filmmakers and other participants) and making suggestions. The session was praised as being very successful by attendees.

Although run at short notice it kicks off the Doc Clinic, an initiative Doc Edge has been looking to develop since the SDGNZ (as was) ceased its DOC2DOC programme.

Just as Marx enjoys nurturing projections towards fruition through sessions like the clinic, the journey through adolescence to adulthood is one Marx describes himself as being “very passionate about”. 1994’s Hoop Dreams was an exploration of such issues. Marx’s later Unspoken and Boys to Men? (the latter screened here over the weekend) were further examinations of the issues.

A few years back, the board of Marx’s non-profit production company Warrior Films challenged him to extend his activity beyond filmmaking. The challenge led Marx to the Rites of Passage project – a social movement to develop pathways to help kids navigate adolescence successfully. So far it’s encompassed short film, online work, live presentations and mentoring, and created a Foundation. Marx is currently in production with feature documentary Rites of Passage: Mentoring the Future – which he hopes will more or less conclude his regular commitment to Rites of Passage.

“Frankly, I’m not the guy to head up a social movement!” said Marx. His aim is “to get kicked upstairs”, to mentor for Rites of Passage while having time to advance other projects.

While here Marx has advanced Mentoring the Future, shooting some interview material in Golden Bay with Gold Coast-based Arne Rubenstein, who also works on the Rites of Passage Foundation programmes.

Marx’s next project is a TV documentary about returning US veterans, which he hopes to start shooting early in 2016.

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