Film Festival

10 Docs you can’t miss at the Documentary Edge Festival


We present ten documentaries worth watch at the Documentary Edge Festival held in Wellington and Auckland (New Zealand).
a billion lives

A Billion Lives by Aaron Biebert – US, UK, Peru, Belgium | 2016 – 92 min.

The United Nations’ World Health Organisation expects a billion people will die prematurely from smoking this century. The products their doctors recommend are rarely effective and many are trapped. A new vapour technology was invented to give smokers a successful way to quit. But it was quickly demonised, and even banned in many countries.

A perfect storm is brewing.between smokers trying to quit, government regulators, and health charities funded by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. Director Aaron Biebert travelled across four continents interviewing doctors, scientists, and others working to save a billion lives. What he found was profound government failure, widespread corruption in the public health community and powerful subversion by big business.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.11.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 8:30 pm (with Q&A)
05.14.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 2:15 pm (with Q&A)
05.19.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 8:15 pm (with Q&A)
05.21.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 4:15 pm

Guantanamo's Child

Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr by Michelle Shephard, Patrick Reed – Canada | 2014 – 62 min.

In 1995, eight-year-old Omar Khadr moved with his parents from Canada to Afghanistan. Seven years later, at the age of 15, he was captured by American troops, accused of having links to Al-Qaeda. The teenager ended up in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without any legal representation or trial. There he was subjected to many years of torture. In October 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes, including “murder in violation of the laws of war”, in return for a plea deal giving him an eight-year sentence and a chance to return to Canada.

Khadr later recanted his confession and his Guantanamo conviction is being appealed in the U.S courts. However, after spending half his life behind bars, including a decade at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre, Khadr was suddenly released.

This film features unprecedented access and exclusive interviews with Khadr during his first few days of freedom. Finally, he is able to tell his own story.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.09.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 8:00 pm
05.15.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 10:30 am
05.20.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 4:00 pm
05.28.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 3:30 pm

in the game

In the Game by Maria Finitzo – USA | 2015 – 77 min.

Directed by Peabody award-winner Maria Finitzo and produced by Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams), In the Game follows a dedicated coach and a girls’ soccer team at an urban public school in Chicago, Kelly High School. Set in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, 94% of Kelly’s students are categorized as “low income”.

The girls face an uneven playing field — little or no support, uncertain futures, problems at home, discrimination, and poverty. Through their stories, the film illustrates the enormous challenges facing inner-city girls in their quest for higher education and, most importantly, success in life.

The film is a powerful catalyst for discussing the value of mentorship, team-building and life skills while facing the challenges of race, class, gender and educational inequality.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.10.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 6:15 pm
05.21.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 2:15 pm
05.29.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 12:00 pm

Inside The Chinese Closet

Inside the Chinese Closet by Sophia Luvara – China | 2016 – 72 min.

Andy devotes his days and nights to looking for a lesbian wife of convenience who could possibly bear his child; from online search to underground marriage markets, he is meeting all sorts of girls. Cherry has already married a gay man, but the quest for a baby proves to be a far more complex challenge. Will Andy and Cherry deny their own happiness and sexual orientation to satisfy their parents’ wishes?

Inside The Chinese Closet follows Andy and Cherry in their search. Along the way they clash with their parents’ hopes, their love partners and their partners of convenience. It is through these encounters that the film lays bare the challenges that confront gay people in China today.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.12.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 6:15 pm
05.22.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 3:45 pm
05.22.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 5:00 pm

Miners Shot Down

Miners Shot Down by Rahad Desai – South Africa | 2014 – 86 min.

In August 2012, workers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days into the strike, the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. The police insisted that they shot in self-defence.

Miners Shot Down unfolds in real time over seven days, like a ticking time bomb. The film weaves together the central point-of-view of three strike leaders, Mambush, Tholakele and Mzoxolo, with compelling police footage, TV archive material and interviews with lawyers who represented the miners in the ensuing Commission of Inquiry into the massacre. What emerges is a tragedy that arises out of the deep fault lines in South Africa’s nascent democracy, of enduring poverty and a twenty-year unfulfilled promise of a better life for all.

A powerful and disturbing film, beautifully shot, sensitively told and featuring a haunting soundtrack, the film points to how far the African National Congress has strayed from its progressive liberationist roots and leaves audiences with an uncomfortable view of those that profit from minerals in the global South.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.15.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 1:45 pm
05.26.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 6:15 pm
05.28.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 10:15 am


Oriented by Jake Witzenfeld – UK | 2015 – 81 min.

Khader is a Tel Aviv “darling” from a prominent Muslim mafia family living with his Jewish boyfriend David and their Dalmatian dog Otis. Fadi is an ardent Palestinian nationalist who finds himself falling in love with an Israeli “Zionist”. Naim must confront his family with the truth about his sexuality. All three are conflicted by their desire for change in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation. Meanwhile, a war is brewing…

Determined to “change their reality”, the three best friends form a group called “Gambuta”, a non-violent, cultural resistance movement fighting for gender and national equality. Through their activism, they address what it means to grow up with the burden of a multi-faceted identity.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.15.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 12:00 pm
05.26.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 6:30 pm
05.29.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 5:45 pm

Requiem for the American Dream

Requiem for the American Dream by Kelly Nyks, Jared Scott & Peter Hutchison – US | 2015 – 74 min.

Two decades after Manufacturing Consent and ten years after The Corporation, Noam Chomsky now dissects the most dramatic development of our time — the extraordinary consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of a select few.

Filmed over five years, Chomsky unpacks the US policies of the past half-century, laying bare the principles that have led to this worldwide, historically unprecedented concentration of private capital and political influence, favoring a financial aristocracy while relegating the world’s majorities to the margins.

In a profoundly personal way, Chomsky looks back on his own life of political activism and democratic participation — sincere reflections that are not without regret.

Candid, intimate, unforgettable — this is the definitive discourse with arguably the most influential intellectual alive on the demise of democracy in our time — a masterly diagnosis of where we are and where we are heading; the ultimate synthesis of Chomsky’s extraordinary insights and perceptions.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.15.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 10:15 am
05.24.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 8:15 pm
05.28.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 6:45 pm



Samurai and Idiots: The Olympus Affair by Hyoe Yamamoto – Japan, France, UK, Germany | 2015 – 79 min.

The Olympus scandal remains one of the most polarizing and mystifying corporate scandals in the world. It is also the story of the ultimate East-West cultural showdown where different sets of values collided.

In October 2011, Olympus Corporation, a multi-billion dollar Japanese optical company, suddenly dismissed its president and CEO, British-born Michael Woodford, only 6 months after his appointment, citing cultural differences in management style. Japanese media dutifully reported it with minimal coverage, another foreign CEO failing to adapt to the Japanese way.

But international media reported a brewing scandal where Japanese board members of the company unanimously voted to dismiss Michael Woodford for blowing a whistle on the 1.7 billion dollar fraud that the company had kept secret for more than two decades.

Woodford became the centre of media attention, and his relentless media pressure and appeal for truth eventually led to arrests of the top three executives of the 93-year old Japanese company, for which he had worked for 30 years.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.12.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 8:00 pm
05.25.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 6:15 pm
05.28.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 1:45 pm


Sonita by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami – Germany, Switzerland, Iran | 2015 – 91 min.

Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh narrowly escaped a forced marriage at 16 by writing the song Brides for Sale. A female rapper in conservative Iran, Sonita’s talents are a liability. But Sonita insists on dreaming big. Her beats are as solid as stones, her rhymes are fierce, and her videos are a piercing howl against the constant injustice, fear, and sexism women must endure.

It was only a matter of time before her charismatic presence and spirited eyes would change her fortune, and with the help of the filmmaker, she is suddenly offered a scholarship that leads her on a dangerous trip back to Afghanistan, then ultimately to Utah.

All the while, Sonita’s conservative mother insists she must be married off soon, at a price, and threatens to derail Sonita’s life at its most critical juncture. An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, Sonita highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.13.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 9:00 pm (with Q&A)
05.15.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 6:00 pm (with Q&A)
05.19.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 6:00 pm (with Q&A)
05.29.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 2:30 pm

this changes everything

This Changes Everything by Avi Lewis – Canada, US | 2015 – 90 min.

Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. The film presents seven portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

Interwoven with these stories of struggle is Naomi Klein’s narration, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.

TRAILER (will open in a new window)

05.08.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 2:45 pm
05.10.2016 – The Roxy (Wellington) – 6:00 pm
05.26.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 8:15 pm
05.29.2016 – Q Theatre (Auckland) – 4:30 pm

To confirm schedule hours please visit the official webpage of the festival here: Documentary Edge Festival

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