This evening Doc Edge held their annual awards as part of the 2023 Doc Edge Festival at Ellen Melville Centre, honouring the outstanding local and international documentaries and filmmakers in this year’s festival.The Oscar-qualifying festival offers the opportunity for the winners of Best NZ Short, NZ Feature, International Feature and International Short to qualify for consideration for the 2024 Academy Awards.Best New Zealand Feature went to Pacific Mother from director Katherine McRae, a film that explores the importance of community, reclaiming traditional birthing knowledge and the connection between caring for the planet and nurturing both parents and their children. The jury commented that “This film took the judges on a beautiful cinematic journey that was hugely emotional and told an empowering conversation with indigenous women front and centre of its telling.” Pacific Mother took home four awards, including Best NZ Director, Best NZ Editing and Best NZ Cinematography.Taking out Best New Zealand Short was Strange Beasts by director Darcy Prendergast, which follows the rise and fall of Australia’s Bacchus Marsh Lion Safari, through the eyes of big cat keeper Ron Prendergast. A captivating exploration of human nature, ambition, and the human desire to control nature.The Best International Feature was awarded to In the Shadow of Beirut, a portrait of modern-day Lebanon as seen through the eyes of four families living in the impoverished Sabra and Shatila neighbourhoods of the city, from directors Stephen Gerard Kelly and Garry Keane. The jury commented: “Through intimate, character-driven storytelling, the stark reality of life for the protagonists of the film is symbolic of many thousands of others who fight for survival in a city, once described as the Paris of the Middle East, but now boasts the highest refugee numbers in the world.” Recipient of Best International Short was When the Sand Stands Still by directors David Jervidal and Tommy Jervidal in Denmark where amidst the eroding North Sea coastline, local builder Kjeld Pedersen works to save the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse from being swallowed up by the sea by moving it away from danger, while the film captures the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the lighthouse. The 2023 festival includes 71 feature and short films, with screenings still to come at Wellington’s The Roxy Cinema from 7 – 18 June and online in the Doc Edge Virtual Cinema from 19 June – 9 July.

 Full list of Doc Edge Awards 2023 Winners:

New Zealand Competition

  • Best New Zealand Feature: Pacific Mother (Dir. Katherine McRae)
  • Best New Zealand Short: Strange Beasts (Dir. Darcy Prendergast)
    • Special Mention: Demons (Dirs. Daniel Ali, Mark Robertson)
  • Best New Zealand Director: Katherine McRae (Pacific Mother)
  • Best New Zealand Editing: Pacific Mother (Editor Lala Rolls)
  • Best New Zealand Cinematography: Pacific Mother (various)
  • Best New Zealand Sound: Frances Hodgkins, Anything but a Still Life (Composer Dana Lund, original score)
  • Best New Zealand Emerging Filmmaker: Blandine Massiet du Biest (Frances Hodgkins, Anything but a Still Life)


New Zealand Student Award Winners

  • Best Tertiary Film: A Love Letter to the Estranged (Dir. Va’a Magalogo, AUT)
  • Best Secondary School Film: Self Portrait (Dir. Connor Lynd, Rotorua Lakes High School)


International Competition

  • Best International Feature: In the Shadow of Beirut (Germany, Ireland, Lebanon, UK, Dirs. Stephen Gerard Kelly, Garry Keane)
    • Special Mention: Twice Colonized (Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Dir. Lin Alluna)
  • Best International Short: When the Sand Stands Still (Denmark, Dirs. David Jervidal, Tommy Jervidal)
    • Special Mention: Finding Alaa (UK, Dir. Myriam Francois)
  • Best International Director: Mstyslav Chernov (20 Days in Mariupol)
  • Best International Editing: 20 Days in Mariupol (Michelle Mizner)
  • Best International Cinematography: In the Shadow of Beirut
  • Best International Sound: Knowing the Score (Simon Hicks)


Festival Category Winners

  • Being Oneself: Who I Am Not
  • Crime & Conspiracy: All Static & Noise
  • Fighting Spirit: Twice Colonized
  • Making an Impact: Deep Rising
  • The Art of Storytelling: Call Me Dancer
  • Our World, Our Stories: In the Shadow of Beirut


Extended Reality (XR) Impact Winners

  • New Zealand Project: Evoke
  • International Project: Missing 10 Hours (Hungary)


Doc Edge Superhero 2023: Prof. Annie GoldsonDoc Edge recognises an outstanding contributor to documentary with its prestigious Superhero Award every year. In 2023 Doc Edge is proud to honour Annie Goldson. Goldson is a critically acclaimed filmmaker known for her thought-provoking films that tackle complex social and political issues.