Doc Edge Festival – Asian Presence 2023

We take a look at the Asian films that will be screened at the Doc Edge Festival which will take place from May 24 – July 9, 2023 in New Zealand.

Note: the list includes films made by Asian filmmakers.

– Feature Films –

Eat Bitter by Ningyi Sun, Pascale Appora-Gnekindy – Central African Republic, China | 2023 – 95 minutes

Co-Directors Appora-Gnekindy and Sun offer a unique perspective on the lives of a Chinese construction manager and a Central African labourer who are working together to build a new bank in the midst of a civil war, poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The film explores the challenges that they face in their personal and professional lives, including attempted suicide and unexpected twists that threaten their dreams of a better future. Against this backdrop, the directors offer a compelling look at the impact of geopolitical and economic forces on individual lives.


Into the Shaolin by Hongyun Sun – China | 2023 – 91 minutes

Director Sun’s film showcases life in the Shaolin Monastery, the birthplace of Chinese Chan and Kung Fu. She follows several monks and a Serbian Ph.D. candidate conducting fieldwork to explore the philosophy of peace and enlightenment through martial arts. It depicts their daily routines of meditation and martial arts practice, as well as their challenges outside the temple. Despite performing martial arts globally, they lack practical skills for dignified jobs beyond the temple. The film portrays the realities of their lives and unwavering commitment to their chosen path, featuring ordinary mortals instead of Kung Fu heroes or Saint Monks.

– Short Films –

Mountain Man by Arun Bhattarai – Bhutan | 2022 – 22 minutes

Phuntsho Tshering, Bhutan’s only glaciologist, measures the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, navigating sacred mountains and the snow lion’s consequences to protect his homeland from climate change. His daughter, Yangchen, finds solace in videos he makes while he’s gone. A poignant reminder of the importance of protecting the planet for future generations and the beauty of the father-daughter bond.

My Grandmother Is A Bird by Andrea Suwito – Indonesia | 2022 – 25 minutes

Indriati, an 88-year-old Chinese-Indonesian woman, explores the meaning of her past name, which she was forced to change 60 years ago by the Indonesian government. Through a silver bird symbolising her past name, she connects with her true identity. The film is a powerful exploration of identity, memory, and cultural heritage. A reminder that our past is an integral part of our identity.


The After: A Chef’s Wish by Umar Riaz – Pakistan | 2022 – 26 minutes

A fan favourite winner of ‘Top Chef: Season 15’, Chef Fatima Ali used food to bridge cultures and bring joy to underprivileged communities in Pakistan. Her brother Mohammed has channelled his grief by working to continue her legacy by using the power of food to bring people together and make a positive impact. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the intersection of food, culture, and social change.

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