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March 14, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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Documentary Edge Festival: 10-27 March, Wellington

Now that the glitz and glamour of the Oscars has faded and the red carpet rolled away for another year, Wellington’s movie-goers can set their sights on the next celebration of cinema, at this year’s Documentary Edge Festival. The annual festival began last Thursday (10 March) with screenings to continue for the next two weeks at Reading Cinemas in Courtenay Place and the Wellington City Gallery.

The festival is in its sixth year and is Australasia’s premiere international documentary festival. This year, the programme features an impressive line up of 64 films, including 51 features and 13 shorts, chosen from a pool of 600 submissions. They are divided into eight categories: Best of Fest, New Zealand, World Cinema, Culture Vultures, Heroes and Icons, Shorts, All in the Family and a new category ‘On the Edge’.

The event is held in Wellington and Auckland, and is organised by the Documentary New Zealand Trust, formed in 2004, with the purpose of exposing audiences to the exciting developments within the genre of documentary film. The festival aims to provide audiences with thought provoking documentaries that give an insight into issues that confront our society and challenge established film conventions.

Documentaries from both established directors such as Spike Lee and Oliver Stone are included alongside independent filmmakers and emerging talents from New Zealand and abroad. Great diversity also exists within the range of topics, from stirring investigative and historical representations, to heart warming and quirky tales of everyday and extraordinary people. There’s bound to be something that’ll take your fancy, so check out the full line-up for yourself by picking up a programme from either of the venues or online at

Must-See: A look ahead to a few festival highlights

I am the River
Dir. Mark McNeill and Luigi Cutore

12.00pm, Wed 16/3—City Gallery
6.30pm, Wed 16/3—Reading Courtenay
12.45pm, Sat 26/3—Reading Courtenay

This New Zealand doco dominated the festival’s awards by taking out three of the top awards in the New Zealand sections, including ‘Best New Zealand Feature Documentary’, ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Editing’. I am the River documents the discovery of a large collection of photographs taken by a late 19th century explorer as he traveled up and down the Whanganui River. Described by On Film magazine as “an engrossing thriller, a poetic visual essay and an important social document”.

Enemies of the People

Dir. Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin
8.15pm, Mon 21/3—Reading Courtenay

Announced as the ‘Best International Feature Documentary’, Enemies of the People is an insightful look into the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Directed by a highly regarded investigative reporter who lost his own family in the Killing Fields, the documentary is the result of a decade’s worth of work to uncover how such a great tragedy was able to occur in Cambodia. It includes members of the Khmer Rouge speaking publically for the first time in 30 years, and seeks to shed light on the past horrors in an attempt to help the country move forward.

Jane’s Journey
Dir. Lorenz Knauer
8.15pm, Thur 17/3—Reading Courtenay
2.00pm, Sat 19/3—Reading Courtenay
12.30pm, Wed 23/3—Reading Courtenay

Jane’s Journey is an intimate portrait of the remarkable conservationist Jane Goodall. Renowned for many important scientific discoveries and her continuing quest to cherish our endangered planet, Goodall has been described as one of the most “prominent, extraordinary and perhaps influential women of our time”.

Dir. Matthew D. Kallis
4.45pm, Sun 20/3—Reading Courtenay
12.00pm, Wed 23/3—City Gallery
Set in New Jersey USA, Most Valuable Players is about the Freddy Awards, which annually celebrates outstanding high school musical theatre performances. A definite must watch for any Glee fans!

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