The Doc Edge International Film Festival is on in Auckland at Q Theatre, Auckland Art Gallery and Ellen Melville Centre from 30 May – 9 June, before heading to Wellington.
The programme has a stunning selection of sixty-five international and local films of real-life stories that wrestle with politics, human rights, culture, crime and fearless individuals who triumph against the odds. We’ve put together a few of our top picks to see this year.
When a young Siphe November leaves his small township in South Africa to follow his dreams at Canada’s National Ballet School, he begins a remarkable journey that reveals deeply personal pulses of family, prejudice and expectation that beat beneath the surface of a beautiful and demanding art form.
As he soars on stages around the world, he navigates evolving relationships with his mother, with whom he feels a profound duty to help live a better life; with his first ballet teacher, who wishes he would give back to his community and with his Canadian family who strives to help him feeling at home in two countries.
A Billy Elliot story with a South African twist.
Check it out – plus session times & bookings
Half The Picture
While celebrating the ground-breaking work of female film directors, Half the Picture investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood.
Half the Picture consists of interviews with high profile women directors including Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time, Selma), Lena Dunham (Girls) and Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Twilight). The women discuss their early working lives, how they balance demanding directing careers with family, and the challenges and joys along the way.
Buddy delivers a poignant and carefully-composed portrait of six guide dogs and their companions. Are the relationships built on love, or loyalty, or are they simply working relationships?
Heddy questions the dogs’ owners in her characteristic way – respectfully, and with genuine concern rooted in a deep trust – about what their animals mean to them.
The result is an ode to the fighting spirit of the owners, and a loving portrait of the deep bond between humans and almost-humans.
Check it out – plus session times & bookings
Talking About Trees
Suhaib Gasmelbari’s film chronicles the actions of the Sudanese Film Club, a group of retired film directors. In a country dominated by Islamists who have made the existence of cinema extremely difficult, it’s not a simple job.
Sudan’s film industry and heritage was almost completely destroyed in the years following the 1989 military coup. The four filmmakers, Altayeb, Ibrahim, Manar and Soliman, have been friends for more than 40 years. All of them learned their trade outside of their home country. Now, they aim to inspire the Sudanese people with their own love of films.
Now, the Sudanese Film Club’s plans are to show films in a mobile cinema and refurbish an outdoor theatre outside of Khartoum. For many, it would be the first time seeing a film on a big screen.
Now films are so easily available to many of us at home on screens from a phone to projection systems, Talking About Trees explores what’s lost when public exhibition is no longer an option.
Bathtubs Over Broadway
When Steve Young, a comedy writer for David Letterman’s Late Show, was gathering material for a segment on the programme he stumbled across some vintage records that would change his life forever.
Bizarre cast recordings marked ‘Internal Use Only’ revealed full-throated Broadway-style musical shows about some of the most recognisable corporations in America, including General Electric, McDonalds, Ford, DuPont and Xerox.
Bathtubs Over Broadway follows Steve Young on his quest to find all he can about this hidden world. While tracking down rare albums, unseen footage, composers and performers, Steve forms unlikely friendships and discovers that this discarded musical genre starring tractors and bathtubs was bigger than Broadway.
In 21st century China, it’s customary for betrothed couples to spend a small fortune on glamorous portraits, taken many months in advance of their wedding. Chinese and Australian participants navigate love, weddings and family in the lead-up to the most important ritual of Chinese society – getting married.
Come on a billion-dollar ride of fantasy exploring contemporary China through the window of the pre-wedding photography industry.
The film has the same kinetic energy as Crazy Rich Asians – outrageous at the opening but ultimately poignant.
I Am Maris: Portrait Of A Young Yogi
Tormented by anxiety, depression and a life-threatening eating disorder, a teenage girl confronts her buried emotions through yoga.
With infectious authenticity, I Am Maris paints an unguarded portrait of mental illness and recovery, using Maris’ own words and vivid artwork to illustrate her inspiring journey. It’s a story about mental health, self-love, and the power of one person’s voice.
At 16, Maris becomes a licensed yoga instructor. She starts a blog about food and yoga. Then a friend tells her that she needs to “talk about the shit you don’t want to talk about”. This is when Maris decides to embrace fearless authenticity and share her story with the world.
CNN picks up her story. By 17, Maris becomes an inspiration and role model for young girls and women of all ages through her blog, her workshops, and mentoring programme. She’s won awards, been on the cover of CNN Health, spoken live to hundreds of audiences, and reached thousands through her podcasts.
Through it all Maris has to remind herself that she is still in recovery, and always will be. She learns to accept her mental illness as merely a part of her – one that has also given her her strength.
We’re looking forward to getting stuck into a few of the films of the Festival. Check out the DocEdge Festival and choose your own top picks!
What was you pick of the Festival?
Written by Ronnie Swainston
A jet-setter with a love for sci-fi, tv, film, photography & some extra love for sun, snow, sipping, eating, adventures and traveling to get to it, Ronnie is a boss babe who likes to wind down with one (probably two) gin cocktails. Her phone is full of #goals and pictures of her fave people.
Favourite place to be: On an adventure