Toilet humour with a message
The Doco Edge festival has tales about everything from cult leaders to celebrity photographers, finds
New Zealand’s annual celebration of global documentary-making has finally gone national. Yes, Covid-19 has had one unexpected benefit for cinephiles, Doc Edge Festival 2020 can be potentially watched by Kiwis from Cape Reinga to Rakiura.
All 83 of the shorts and features selected for the Oscars-qualifying annual event’s 15th edition are available to stream. While some titles are free and available to watch at any time, most will be available at particular times from today until July 5, by buying a ticket.
After looking through the lineup and previewing a selection, Stuff has come up with a list of 10 titles well worth seeking out.
Wa¯ naka-based film-maker Richard Sidey’s final part of his Speechless trilogy is truly an immersive experience. Shot on seven continents over five years, it delivers a series of stunning wildlife images narrated only by Boreal Taiga’s atmospheric score.
Beautiful match shots, crisp black-and-white photography and its triptych style evoke memories of those theme park or tourist attraction 180-degree audio-visual presentations. Dim the lights, crank up the sound system and watch it on the biggest screen you have.
Watch it if: You’re a fan of Kiwi and environmental cinema.
First We Eat
Here’s the perfect tale for those who struggled without takeaways during the lockdown. Canadian director Suzanne Crocker lives in a part of the Yukon – just 300km south of the Arctic Circle – that is almost completely reliant on elsewhere for its regular food supplies. She decides her family should try to live local for an entire year. The results aren’t always pretty – or edible.
Watch it if: You’re a locavore, or love watching a good Super Size Me-style challenge.
It’s a premise that could have been about as exciting as watching paint dry. A fly-on-the-wall documentary set in and around the annual World Economic Forum. However, thanks to impressive pacing, brilliant editing and making full use of his seemingly unfettered access to events, German director Marcus Vetter has crafted an engrossing and timely investigation into the history and importance of this key global gathering.
Surprisingly filled with twists and turns, the tale offers a behind-the-curtain look at key players Greta Thunberg, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, and makes a potential star out of the forum’s avuncular founder, Klaus Schwab.
Watch it if: You want to understand world politics, or see the masks slip.
Jack Sim is the face of the globe’s other WTO – the World Toilet Organisation. For more than 20 years, the Singaporean businessman has channelled his boundless enthusiasm into creating a ‘‘bowel movement’’ aimed at improving access to proper sanitation around the globe.
Lily Zepeda’s charming crowdpleaser follows Sim as he tries to raise awareness by any means necessary and tackles his biggest ever challenge – India.
Watch it if: You love poop puns, toilet humour and colourful characters with a message.
The Prophet Vs the Space Aliens
Scientology may garner most of the headlines and Hollywood celebrities, but there are other extraterrestrial-inspired religions out there, as Yoav Shamir’s documentary demonstrates.
Shamir investigates the Raelian organisation’s origins, philosophies and philanthropic programmes, many of which will raise an eyebrow. Then there’s the cult’s colourful leader Rael, a man with his own truly eclectic and colourful past.
Watch it if: You love Louis Theroux or David Farrier-style looks at the world’s eccentricities.
Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band
Their tunes might not be as toe-tapping as the Buena Vista Social Club, but this tale of two nonagenarian Florida musicians is just as crowdpleasing.
Ninety-four-year-old drummer Saul Dreier and 90-year-old accordionist Ruby Sosnowicz have one last wish, to play a concert in their Polish homeland. What follows is an emotional journey for them and the audience, as the pair deal with loss, and find revisiting their past affects them far more than they expected.
Watch it if: You’re prepared to shed a tear.
A Thousand Cuts
Think Donald Trump is a polarising president? Meet Rodrigo Duterte. Voted in as the Philippines’ 16th leader, the then 71-year-old promised to wage a war on the country’s drug problem. The result is more than 12,000 deaths, mostly poor people in urban areas, and the harassment of anyone who dares speak out against his regime.
Director Ramona Diaz documents the experience of Rappler website founder Maria Ressa, who found herself and her virtually allfemale staff the target of harassment by Duterte and his henchman. But the film also takes a look at those loyal to the president, including dancerturned-aspiring-politician Mocha Uson.
Watch it if: You need a reminder of how lucky New Zealanders are.
He’s been intimate with Marilyn Monroe, persuaded Elizabeth Taylor to help him make his career, and impressed Michelle Williams with his professionalism. For more than 60 years, Douglas Kirkland’s images have helped sell Hollywood glamour around the world, initially through the iconic Life and Look magazines.
As Luca Severi’s elegant and enlightening portrait reveals, he’s also captured intimate moments from the sets of classic films such as The
Sound of Music, Out of Africa and Titanic, and the hearts of many who have encountered him and his camera.
Watch it if: You’re into Tinseltown and its myriad stars.
This is Not a Movie
Inspired by watching Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 spy thriller of the same name, Robert Fisk always wanted to be a foreign correspondent.
For the past 45 years, he’s been based in the Middle East, reporting from the backstreets and frontlines of some of the world’s most dangerous and disputed places.
Director Yung Chang follows Fisk, notebook in hand, as he conducts interviews and observes the chaotic world around him.
There are plenty of intimate moments and amazing archival footage to savour, as the forthright Fisk holds court on the dire state of global politics and journalism today.
Watch it if: You’re interested in old-school journalism and the printed word.
Who Let The Dogs Out
It’s one of songwriting’s greatest unanswered questions (along with what Meatloaf wouldn’t do for love), and in this entertaining and engrossing comedic standup lecture adventure, Ben Sisto recounts his eight-year odyssey to find the origin of the Baha Men’s 2000 global hit (New Zealand was one of two countries where it topped the charts).
Starting out simply trying to fix an incomplete Wikipedia entry, he ends up down a rabbit hole filled with crazy, colourful characters, competing claims and lengthy lawsuits.
Watch it if: You dig popular culture.
The Doc Edge Film Festival 2020 runs from today until July 5. For online session times, the full lineup and more information, see festival.docedge.nz