Our top picks for the Doc Edge International Film Festival 2019

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.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl
Kate Nash, punk renegade, TV wrestling queen, and DIY leader of an all-girl band forgoes money and fame to speak out about gender inequality in the music business and to embolden other young women to find their voice.

From pop wonder, to riot grrrl to women’s rights avatar, Kate’s journey so far has been an inspiring call to the creative heart in all of us: be fearless.

Beyond Moving
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.

China Love

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.

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.

Assholes: A Theory

Some people grapple with the moral challenges of treating human beings decently. Others are just assholes.

This entertaining film explores the venomous social media, resurgent authoritarianism and rampant narcissism threatening to trash civilisation as we know it. The time has come for Assholes: A Theory.

The frustration of dealing with assholes affects us all, so how can we understand this particular type of problematic behaviour? More importantly, what can be done to push back against the rising tide of assholery?

Venturing into a predominantly male domain, filmmaker John Walker moves from Ivy League frat clubs to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and the bear pits of international finance. Why do assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal? And how do they keep getting elected!


It’s hard to imagine anybody living a normal life in the Gaza Strip. Frequently labelled as the world’s largest open-air prison, it makes an appearance on news reports every time a confrontation erupts between Israel and Hamas. On TV sets thousands of miles away, this tiny piece of land has been reduced to an image of violence, chaos and destruction. So what do the people who live there do when they’re not under siege?

Gary Keane and Andrew McConnell’s atypical approach to their subject matter yields unexpected, unfamiliar stories of people plagued by conflict but not defined by it.

Gaza cannot be understood in a purely political context or by analysing tragic sound bites during conflict. It can only be understood by immersion, by living amongst its people and by recognizing and exploring its rich social diversity and cultural subtleties.

Marks of Mana

Of all of the art of the skin in Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean), the markings for women have been given the least attention. Yet Tatau Fafine is imbued with mana and meanings which reach back through time to the very origins of Pacific tatau history. 

The film looks at a number of women who are now reclaiming the art of tatau for themselves, as well as for the memories of their ancestors. The result is a celebration of the wave of female tatau artists that is now turning the tides of the male-dominated culture of Pacific tattooing.

From the two tatau goddesses who brought the art to Samoa to the practice of marking women in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Aotearoa, Lisa Taouma’s film explores these ancient symbols, their meanings and their relevance for today’s Polynesian women.

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