Welcome Messages

Alex, Rachael & Dan | Festival Team

Welcome to Doc Edge Festival 2024, the premier destination for documentary storytelling in the Asia Pacific region.

Picture this: a festival so epic, that it’s been hand-picked by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) to be part of the Major Events Incubator. Yep, it’s kind of a big deal. Doc Edge has earned recognition as we work towards establishing the first dedicated Asia-Pacific documentary centre, featuring an Oscar-qualifying Documentary Festival, Industry Events & Market, Schools Programme, and Immersive Exhibition.

As we proudly launch this year’s festival in the resilient and innovative city of Ōtautahi Christchurch, in partnership with ChristchurchNZ, we are excited to bring the spotlight to the South Island. Together, we are fostering a vibrant hub for documentaries that showcase the diverse stories of our region and beyond.

Doc Edge is a celebration of documentary storytelling, exploring themes of Truth, Impact, and Reconciliation from around the world and diverse communities. Prepare for thought-provoking discussions and immersive exhibitions that push the boundaries of storytelling.

In an era of challenges to public journalism, disinformation, and social media abuse, we believe that change and reconciliation occur when people engage in respectful dialogue and listen to other stories.

This year’s festival boasts the largest number of world premieres, many of which are international films: 11 feature films, 9 short films, and 10 immersive projects. This record underscores our reputation as a must-premiere screening festival, offering a unique viewing opportunity to local audiences and showcasing films destined to be the world’s latest and most important documentary works.

Whether attending in person at our cinemas in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and Pōneke Wellington, or joining us virtually from anywhere in the country, our rich programme of 66 films and 28 immersive projects offers something for everyone. The festival’s immersive exhibition, schools’ programme, industry events and market are all crafted with a vision for wayfinding — to transform the present and illuminate the path to the future through collective wisdom and mindfulness.

This year, we are honoured to present Ted Hope with the Doc Edge Superhero Award. A titan in the screen industry, Hope’s visionary work has shaped the future of storytelling and inspired generations of filmmakers.

Join us in Ōtautahi Christchurch for a journey of discovery and courageous conversations. Your participation can help shape the future of documentary and storytelling in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

As the whakataukī says, “Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini” — “My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.” We are immensely grateful to our members, partners, filmmakers, audiences, and team for their unwavering support.

Together, let’s celebrate “life unscripted” and create lasting memories at the Doc Edge Festival 2024.

Ka kite anō

DanShanan | Executive Director             
Alex Lee | Director
Rachael Penman | General Manager & Festival Producer

Helen Clark | Doc Edge Patron

As a Patron of Doc Edge Festival, I extend a warm welcome to you all to this year’s event. 

I am passionate about the power of documentary films to inspire, educate, and challenge our perspectives. It is heartening to see the festival growing and becoming an Asia Pacific hub for all things documentary in Christchurch, attracting both local and international visitors.

I commend ChristchurchNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment for their support in making this vision a reality. This year, the festival’s theme, “Truth, Impact, and Reconciliation,” resonates deeply in a world where these values are more important than ever.

With 66 films and 28 immersive projects from around the globe, including some with their world and international premieres in New Zealand, there is much to explore and learn from. In addition to screenings, the festival offers an Immersive Exhibition, Industry Events & Market, the Oscar-qualifying Awards, and live events across multiple venues in Christchurch.

It is great that the festival continues its presence in Wellington, Auckland, and nationwide through its Virtual Cinema, making it accessible to all Kiwis.

I am particularly interested in the category “Democracy on the Edge,” which explores the challenges faced by democracies worldwide. In these turbulent times, it is crucial that we engage in meaningful conversations about the future of democracy.

I wish you all a wonderful festival experience.

Judy Bailey | Doc Edge Ambassador

Kia ora koutou,

2024 promises to be a watershed year for Doc Edge.

We are thrilled to have been awarded $100,000 grant from the Ministry of Business and Innovation, an impressive vote of confidence in Dan, Alex and the team, who had still managed to produce a top quality international event over a number of challenging years.

The grant will help cement the festival into New Zealand’s cultural landscape and we’re enormously grateful for it. It also aims to turn Doc Edge into a premier event not only for this country but for the Asia Pacific region.

And…. this year we are on the move!

The Doc Edge team is excited to be basing the festival in Christchurch for the very first time. The opportunities the city offers were just too hard to pass up. While the festival films will also continue to screen in both Auckland and Wellington and online, the opening and closing ceremonies and the immersive exhibition and industry workshops will all be based in the garden city.

We are always keen to attract new audiences to the documentary genre. You may think it’s not for you but I would encourage you to check out the films on offer, there literally is something there for everyone and I know that once you’ve sampled Doc Edge’s offerings, you’ll be as hooked as I am.

As always the festival includes world premieres, among them, a Canadian French production, I Shall not Hate, which follows a Palestinian doctor who worked in an Israeli hospital, his ethos of forgiveness and reconciliation is put to the ultimate test when an Israeli tank bombs his house, killing his three daughters.

There’s a visceral and unprecedented behind the lines insight into what it is to be a Russian soldier in the war with Ukraine.

We meet an 84 year old DJ …. a star of Warsaw’s nightclubs and journey alongside the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica.

As I write this New Zealand’s media landscape is being decimated by closures and retrenchment ….. we are losing a significant number of talented story tellers, people who tell our own stories. I can only hope that some of them will turn their sights to documentaries and that they will be well supported to do so.

A healthy democracy needs to be constantly explored and questioned.

I do hope you enjoy DocEdge ‘24. Nga mihi

Neil Waka | Doc Edge Ambassador

I was first invited to become a Doc Edge Ambassador in 2022 and continue to be involved with an organisation that continues to push the boundaries and encourages the development and creation of high quality documentary making.

As a television news presenter / reporter of more than 30 years, along with working in senior management in Corporate Affairs, I learned early the importance of developing authentic relationships with people from all walks of life and professions.

Having the opportunity to see some of these documentaries come to life from the documentary makers perspective can provide some great insights into other people’s lives and interests. Unpacking a film maker’s journey can often take us into previously unknown experiences.

Simply put, great filmmakers are great storytellers and take us on a journey of discovery.

Thank you to the team at Doc Edge who work hard to bring to Aotearoa New Zealand one of the most highly regarded and respected festivals in the Asia Pacific region.”

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