The Documentary Edge Festival is back with a reckoning; 2015 brings a line-up of stellar local and international films on a variety of subjects. If you’re keen to expand your knowledge base, or find some immersive escapism through the lens of real-life, the documentary festival is the place to be.
Opening this year’s festival is ‘Sweet Micky For President’. Following the events of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti which left over 300, 000 people dead and countless displaced, the documentary examines the presidential race that took place shortly thereafter. Directed by ex-Fugees member Pras, the film offers an up-close look at two musician-turned-politicians - Wycliff Jean and Sweet Micky - as they fight it out to lead Haiti. Not only is ‘Sweet Micky’ leading the congregation at this years Film Festival, but Pras is also appearing in person at selected screenings of the film answering questions in relation to the work.
The documentary festival offers a wide selection of subject matters. Here are my picks for 2015’s line-up:
The Desk: Hate him or love him, Paul Henry remains on the TV sets and radio waves of New Zealand and offers no sign of retirement. The Desk follows Andrew Goldman’s journey from reporter at the New York Times to obsessed Paul Henry companion. Existing somewhere between a documentary and a reenactment, the Desk aims to explore the relationship between journalism and the ‘outrage culture’ of the internet. Working as either a scathing critique of modern journalism, or as satire of obsession gone too far, The Desk will surely entertain.
For Grace: Working in a kitchen is often a thankless task, with long hours leaving very little time for friends and family. None know this better than Curtis Duffy, award-winning chef and owner of Chicago’s three Michelin Star restaurant Grace. For Grace follows the events leading up to the opening of Duffy’s restaurant and the challenges that accompany the reclusive life of a chef.
In My Father's House: Also hailing from Chicago, Rhymfest came to prominence in the mid 2000s; known for his politically aware lyricism, and more recently the song ‘Glory’ co-written with Common. What isn’t known about Rhymfest is his past, steeped in family tragedy. In My Father’s House follows the rapper as he attempt to reconcile with his lost dad, and find a place somewhere between nostalgia and reality that he can safely raise his family in.
Forecaster: Martin Armstrong is a financial advisor who came to prominence predicting the rise and falls of the financial sector. In 1991, Armstrong’s equipment was confiscated by the FBI and he was imprisoned, facing charges of manipulating the stock markets. After a long and arduous legal battle, Armstrong has re-emerged with a new set of predictions; the fall set to take place this year. Forecaster aims to find out if Martin Armstrong is the scoundrel the American Government paints him to be, or the man on the edge of a financial collapse.
Frame by Frame: During the rule of the Taliban, photography was banned in Afghanistan. After the regime fell from power in 2001, the free press quickly emerged. Photography became a bastion of hope for many people living in the war-struck country. Now that the foreign military is pulling away from the middle-east, Frame by Frame examines whether or not photography will survive in Afghanistan. Following four prolific photographers, Frame by Frame will no doubt mix beautiful frames with in-depth political commentary on art in extremism.
Heaven Adores You: Elliott Smith’s life is wrought with tragedy and self destruction, but the beauty he found in between is paramount to his legacy. This crowd-funded documentary aims to frame Smith’s life in a wider lens, showcasing not only his astounding music abilities, but trying to figure out why this enigmatic character touched so many with his songs of self destruction. We've also got some tickets to give away (here).
Druglawed: New Zealand is the only country in the world that tops America for cannabis related arrests. The drug war has incarcerated more people per capita in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world. Whilst the rest of the modern world finds more grounded principles concerning cannabis laws, New Zealand remains old-hat. With so many of the country choosing to participate in ‘weed culture’, Druglawed searches for reason to the madness.
Hip Hop-Eration: Bill O’Reilly recently said that he believes hip-hop to be at fault for the decline of Christian values. If true, this bunch of 90 year olds must be the biggest heathens around. For this group of Waiheke seniors, hip hop represents a youthfulness so scarcely seen amongst older generations. Taking place at the World Hip-Hop Dance competition in Las Vegas, New Zealand breaths old blood into a young mans game.
The Day That Changed My Life: The 22nd of February 2011 is a date etched into the minds of New Zealanders, marking one of the countries biggest tragedies. The Day That Changes My Life offers a cathartic release for those affected, giving time for people to tell their stories.