Emotion Overflows at Doc Edge
The Carte blanche day at Doc Edge, a novelty at the 12th FIFO, met with huge success. It was organised for the opening of the festival at the Maison de la culture Grand Theatre, on Saturday 31st January.
Tears, laughter and ovations… From the first to the last minute, the Doc Edge afternoon provoked a wide range of intense emotions amongst the large audience in attendance for the screenings. For this first Carte blanche day, the New Zealand documentary festival Doc Edge – the 10th edition of which will take place in Auckland from May 20th to June 1st and in Wellington from June 3rd to 14th 2015 – was chosen present its films. ‘It is an excellent idea, this type of exchange brings people together,’ confides 56 year old Isabelle. Accompanied by her husband, she did not miss a second of the four afternoon screenings. ‘The first left an impression on me as it was moving, the second showed what rigour and team spirit was in spite of borders,’ Isabelle says before being interrupted by her companion. ‘It is important to show these films at FIFO, they convey important messages!’
Courage, a value that crosses borders
The strength of the first film moved those present in the Grand Theatre. Erebus, orperation overdue, a docu-fiction that won the main prize, as well as numerous others at Doc Edge 2014, stirred the audience and left its mark. ‘It left me speechless,’ confesses 30 year old Eimo who is unable to find the words to describe the courage of the New Zealand police officers sent to the Antarctic to bring back the bodies of 257 fellow citizens, victims of a plane crash. ‘I didn’t know about this story, I have just found out about it and it is shocking,’ explains her 60 year old neighbour Richard.
After the emotion caused by this first film, laughter finally filled the main room at the Grand Theatre. These young Afro-Americans from run-down areas in Los Angeles, who play rugby and go to New Zealand to meet another people and another culture, eased the tension. ‘They seem happy to discover another community,’ confides Isabelle, ‘There is a great spirit of camaraderie, it is a super example for our younger generation.’
Humans at the heart of these documentaries
The third documentary, the most personal in the selection, took the audience beyond Oceania. Finding Mercy describes the reality of life for Zimbabweans from the perspective of the director who grew up there and returns to find her childhood friend, Mercy. ‘In Tahiti, life is calm,’ confesses Myrna who is here with her family to enjoy the day, ‘It is great to see films that serve as a reminder of other realities elsewhere in the world that are harder!’
Following an intimate and social drama, the day ended with something joyful. Hip-H-Operation caused fits of laughter amongst the audience from beginning to end. Everyone fell for the charm of this group of grandpas and grandmas from a small island of New Zealand, determined to form a hip hop group and participate in the world championship in Las Vegas. An improbable challenge and whose success was applauded by the spectators in the Grand Theatre. ‘They are stunning and so beautiful!’ enthuses 53 year old Stéphane. Remaining in her seat as the room empties, 76 year old Josette does not seem to come back down to earth after seeing this new kind of dance company. ‘When I saw them I said to myself that I should follow their example. At the age of 60, I started roller skating before stopping three years ago because of arthritis. Now I’ve made up my mind, I’m taking it up again.’
DAN SHANAN: The importance of sharing and exchange between festivals
Dan Shanan is director of the Doc Edge Festival, and for the first time, he is a member of the FIFO jury. Let’s meet this enthusiast…
This is the first time that FIFO and Doc Edge are collaborating together, how did you meeting them?
It was several years ago through a former festival organiser. I have been following FIFO since, we have had meetings but we have really made our collaboration official this year with the Carte Blanche Day. We have a real desire to work together and to develop what we have started to construct. We complement each other, FIFO was inspired by our festival’s pitch dating, and Doc Edge is envisaging implementing exchanges with students as successfully as FIFO.
Why is such an exchange important?
The only documentary festival in New Zealand, Doc Edge is a platform that celebrates culture and history, and that enables the general public to have access to and discover documentaries. It is also the FIFO spirit with whom we have real synergy. Another important point: our festival is open to the rest of the world, it is international, FIFO is more focused on the Oceania region. It is therefore essential to share our knowledge and to pool our resources around common ground. This will provide FIFO with better knowledge about what is being done elsewhere in the world, and Doc Edge with a means to discover films to which it did not have access before. Real talent is emerging from both sides of the Pacific, it is very promising and cannot be overlooked.
You presented three films during the carte blanche day, how did you select which ones?
We chose the strongest films but which address different themes. Three were screened at Doc Edge, the fourth will be released in cinemas. The first, Erebus, Operation Overdue looks back at a story that shocked New Zealand. This historical film opens a wound that has not yet healed for some, notably for the families of the victims. It was very successful. The second, Finding Mercy which is more personal, won the prize for the best young director. And the third shows two different worlds confronting each other. The stories told by these documentaries are poignant and take place in places that are geographically different. It is a great opening up to the world.