The Documentary Edge Festival is currently running in Auckland (April 26–May 13) and will run in Wellington from May 17 – June 3).
New Zealand 2011 / 73min.
Director/Producer Leonie Reynolds.
Featuring: Jo Randerson
Jo Randerson is the daughter of a priest, a playwright and a performer who takes no prisoners when it comes to the integrity of her work.
Her largest scale work yet is a black comedy about death, and about what it means to engage with life.
This observational documentary follows nine months in Randerson’s life as she applies for highly competitive funding, puts a team together, and embarks on the long journey to opening night.
New Zealand 2012 / 68min.
Director Grant Lahood. Producer John Keir.
Mani Bruce Mitchell
Every new parent asks: “Is it a boy or a girl?” But what happens when doctors cannot answer that question? One baby in 2,000 is born with genitalia so ambiguous that it is impossible to tell if the child is male or female. That startling but little known statistic means the number of intersex babies equals two rugby teams every year. Their birth certificates – instead of showing “male” or “female” — are sometimes marked “I” for indeterminate.
Director Grant Lahood follows Mani Bruce Mitchell, NZ’s first “out” intersex person, as he/she travels to meet other intersex people living in America, Ireland, Germany, South Africa and Australia.
Expatriate Kiwi sexologist Dr John Money of the world renowned Johns Hopkins Medical School believed that gender was the product of “nurture not nature.” His studies into intersex people led to a particular surgical treatment model for babies born with ambiguous genitalia – the idea being that doctors could produce healthy and happy men and women by intervening early in an intersex child’s life. Usually that meant a family secret that had to be kept at all costs.
But as the film shows, human sexual development is never that straight forward. This is a heart-warming story told with a mix of laughter and tears in the most frank and revealing way.
New Zealand 2012 / 50min.
Director Alex Behse. Producer John Keir.
Are there monsters amongst us?
Wayne Stringer, an ex-cop, is New Zealand’s Nazi Hunter. He secretly investigated 47 “displaced persons” who originally came to New Zealand at the end of WWII.
This film interweaves his secret year-long investigation with the story of his prime suspect — an elderly North Shore man who had been a machine gunner in the “mobile murder unit” responsible for the killing of thousands of Eastern European Jews in Holocaust.
Stringer travelled to the Baltic States where he was given access to war records held for years in KGB archives safely behind the Iron Curtain and visited the killing grounds in Lithuania and Belarus. He also linked in with war crimes investigators from other countries.
The film poses the question: as a result of the investigation into suspected Nazi war criminals, has New Zealand become a more or less safe place for modern era war criminals looking for a bolt hole?
New Zealand 2011 / 72min.
Director Geoffrey Cawthorn. Producer Richard Riddiford.
Featuring: John Psathas
John Psathas, a New Zealander and son of Greek immigrants, was commissioned to compose the music to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics in 2004. At 44 years of age, he has achieved extraordinary international praise as a composer to watch. Drawing from classical, jazz, rock and Greek folk tradition, he grabs audiences and takes them on a thrilling musical journey.
This is an intensely personal story about a man whose life and music is split between his Greek and New Zealand identities. Psathas grew up in a close immigrant family in small town New Zealand where his parents ran a fish and chips shop. When they and his sister returned to Greece, Psathas remained in New Zealand forging a stellar career. Now, with his own young family established in New Zealand but with his parents aging, he is at an emotional crossroad.
Director Geoffrey Cawthorn takes viewers on a journey into Psatha’s life and music. The film observes Psathas at home in Wellington, where he works creating new compositions and teaching at the New Zealand School of Music. It follows him back to the towns of his childhood and onto Greece for an emotional reunion with his parents. The film climaxes with a triumphant performance in Germany of his best-known work, View from Olympus.
New Zealand/Vanuatu 2011 / 70min.
Director/Producer Rachael Wilson.
Yakel 3D is New Zealand’s first 3D feature release, directed by Rachael Wilson and shot by Emmy Award winning cameraman Michael Single. It beautifully explores the fragility of one of the last primitive cultures left today.
Set in a remote Vanuatu tribal village and shot over three years, this is the remarkable story of 108-year-old Chief Kowia near the end of his long, eventful life. A survivor of tribal wars, colonization and epidemics, he has rejected the modern world in favour of a life free of material goods — without money or clothes. It is their jungle that provides life’s necessities.
As the charismatic Chief faces the end of his life, he worries what will happen to his people when he is no longer there to guide them. Can his culture stay strong? Or will his people be tempted by greater riches and leave behind their tribal lives?
Media 7 is also filming a special on documentary this week. Details here.