Our picks for this May’s Doc Edge Festival

The 13th Documentary Edge International Film Festival (Doc Edge) is upon us, so it’s time to take a look at what promises to be an exciting, intriguing and challenging line-up for 2018. Mark it down now if you don’t want to miss out, as with any festival a little planning is needed – the festival takes over Wellington’s Roxy Theatre for 12 days from the 9 – 20 May, and Auckland’s Q Theatre from 23 May – 4 June.

The programme is varied and attractive, taking in historical and contemporary themes and reaches out to the global citizen. Our first pick is Kailash, which attempts to expose India’s child labour industry and will surely have audiences questioning where their mass-produced garments come from. A heart-wrenching story and an issue which many in the west turn a blind eye to.

Another film that grabbed our attention in the programme us was A Murder in Mansfield, in which a son returns to confront his father in prison, 25 years after his elder was convicted of killing his mother. The blunt questioning and dark set up is sure to provide a unique documentary experience.

Like something out of an 80’s B-Grade horror movie, Rodents of Unusual Size sees Louisiana is under threat from monstrous 10kg rodents, and the locals aren’t going down without a fight. After years of battling oil spills and surviving hurricanes, nature continues to batter old mate Thomas Gonzales, this time in one of the more surreal ways possible.

Emotionally charged and confrontational, Whispering Truth to Power, unravels the story of South Africa’s first female Public Protector as she takes on the current president and the threat of leadership for profit – corruption at the highest regiment. Her softly spoken words are thrust into the limelight after commentary belies the extreme nature of the situation, as she risks all personally to expose the truth.

George Michael makes a great documentary case on many levels – his perfectionist style, unique approach to music and having been relatively private over the course of his career.  Freedom: The Director’s Cut makes for a fascinating story in.

Golden Dawn Girls follows the female side of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn political party, who are thrust into the limelight after their male leaders are imprisoned on the grounds of heading up a criminal organisation. After achieving third place in 2015’s election, the nationalist party invites filmmakers surprisingly close in, making for compelling viewing.

Big in Japan is one of the more delightful options on offer, with fame and fortune awaiting those who choose to give up their lives and seek to supply Japanese popular culture with the foreign talent it demands. We follow filmmakers and ‘Ordinary Dave’ on their quest from going to whoa, meeting successful converts along the way.

Opening night film Anote’s Ark sees the low-lying Pacific nation Kiribati (pop: 100,000) fighting climate change and must find a solution to ensure the survival of its people. President Anote Tong races to find options. While Sermary, a young mother of six, handles her struggles with humour, she must decide whether or not to uproot her family, leave her 4,000 year old culture behind and migrate to a new life in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

There are so many more films to discover, the above are simply a few of our picks. Head over to the Doc Edge website for the full roundup, and a convenient way to schedule your faves.

Words by Mat Campbell.