Documentary Edge 2012

Now in its seventh year, the DocumentaryEdge Festival (formerly docnz) is committed to giving film-goers the opportunity to sample a wide range of documentaries from from New Zealand and around the world. This year’s programme is massive: 72 films from New Zealand and around the world. (By comparison, the 2011 festival had 64; 2010, 56; 2009, 52.)  Screenings this year are at Event cinemas in Newmarket and at the Auckland Art GalleryGuests of the festival this year include Chris Paine, director of Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006), here to speak about his follow-up to that film, The Revenge of the Electric Car, which opens the festival this evening. Below, a brief run-down of the festival’s programme.

There are five films in the New Zealand section of the programme, among them Disappear in Light, an “observational documentary” that follows the playwright and performer for nine months as she “applies for funding in a highly competitive environment, puts a team together, and embarks on the long journey to opening night.” Yakel 3D, New Zealand’s first 3-D feature film, looks at the “fragility of one of the last primitive cultures left today” in a remote tribal village in Vanuatu.

Eight films comprise the World Cinema section; the most prominent of them is Steve James’ award-winning The Interrupters, about street-gang violence in Chicago. Well-received at every festival it’s appeared in, this is one of DocEdge 2012’s must-see titles. Future-Watch, one of the more interesting sections in the festival, showcases four films about our impact on the planet, and technology’s impact on us.

The Arab Spring has been documented so extensively and from so many angles that it has been given its own berth in this year’s programme: six films—from Norway, Egypt, Spain, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere—comprise that eponymous section. In a similar vein, there are eight films in the Human Rights section, ranging from an examination of violence in the Central African Republic in Carte Blanche, to a number of films about wrongfully-accused prisoners.

The Generations section provides some of the festival’s lighter fare, including The Man Who Changed Shanghai, a fascinating little film about a Slovakian architect who was massively influential in the East, is narrated by his three children, now all in their eighties. Heroes and Icons contains some of the festival’s most entertaining titles: there’s a film about Star Trek captains throughout the years—written and directed by the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner himself—and Martin Scorsese’s inquisitive, energetic profile of the comic essayist Fran Lebowitz, Public Speaking.

Finally, the Culture Vultures section is home to films about art and creativity: a documentary about multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird sits alongside documentaries on Bollywood, the motion-graphics industry, the trials of translating, for the Russian market, one of the US’ most popular sitcoms, Everybody Loves Raymond, and not one but four films about the inspiring, life-changing power of poetry: Shakespeare High, Deaf Jam, LEMON, and We are Poets.

The festival begins tonight at Event cinemas in Newmarket. Reviews of more than a dozen titles in the festival will be posted in the coming days and weeks. Please visit the DocumentaryEdge website for full schedules and ticketing information.

The 2012 DocumentaryEdge Festival runs from April 26–May 13 in Auckland,
and from May 17–June 3 in Wellington.

For more coverage, browse the “DocEdge 2012” tag on this site, and for information on tickets and session times, visit the DocumentaryEdge website. You can also follow me, @insequential, and the @docedge on Twitter (hashtag #docedge).