FESTIVALS / EVENTS, New Zealand — 04/27/2012 2:16 AM

Documentary Edge 2012 include 10 films about or from Asia

Posted by

Documentary Edge (Australasia’s leading international documentary film festival) has selected 72 films from 34 countries for its 2012 Festival edition.

Among these 72 films, XX documentaries are from or about Asia Pacific, excluding the 5 films in the NZ section. 



World Cinema / Around the world in 8 films.

. Bad Weather

Germany/UK / 90min. / Bengali with English subtitles.
Director Giovanni Giommi. Producers Brian Hill, Carlotta Mastrojanni, Heino Deckert.

“When a boatload of men land at Banishanta, the driver has a haunted expression on his face: his wife is one of the prostitutes. Banishanta Island is 100m long and 10m wide in the Bay of Bengal. Made up of Bangladeshi sex workers, it is the home for women who have to support their families by selling their bodies. This community survives at the frontline of climate change, constantly struggling with the rising tide and soil erosion. Frequent cyclones and floods are threatening their homes and the whole island is in danger of collapsing into the sea.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer on Vimeo  Official website  

. The Hungry Tide
Australia 2011 / 88min. / Kiribati with English subtitles.
Director/Producer Tom Zubrycki.

“The central Pacific nation of Kiribati is disappearing into the sea. The same ocean, which for generations has sustained the country is now the source of its destruction. The rising sea level and increasing salinity threatens the lives of 105,000 people spread over 33 atolls in this remote corner of the Pacific. Sea walls are crumbling, storm tides are sweeping into villages; relocation may be the only long-term option.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer   Official website

. Mother India
Italy 2011 / 61min. / Bengali, Telugu with English subtitles.
Director/Producer Rafaele Brunetti.

“Jhuma and Niladri are from Burdwan, a city 100 kilometres from Kolkata in the state of West Bengal. They have been married for 8 years and have no children. This is a major problem, especially in India where a childless married woman is considered impure. A few years ago, Niladri would probably have abandoned Jhuma, and her life would have become a misery, her presence taken to be an inauspicious sign at social events or religious ceremonies. Today, cutting-edge research and the boom in the assisted reproduction industry offer new possibilities, hopes and dilemmas. From the director of Hair India (Documentary Edge 2009), it is a story of the lower classes using surrogacy as a way out of their economic situation, and the dilemmas faced by middle and upper class families as a result. It is also a story of hope, cultural taboos, drama and money.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer   Oficial website

Human Rights

. Give Up Tomorrow
USA 2011 / 95min. / Spanish, Cebuano, Tagalog with English subtitles.
Director Michael Collins. Producer Marty Syjuco.

“As a tropical storm beats down on the Philippine island of Cebu, two Chinese-Filipina sisters, 21-year-old Marijoy and 23-year-old Jacqueline leave work but never make it home. That night, hundreds of miles away in Manila on a different island, 19-year-old Paco Larrañaga is at a party. Larrañaga, a young student from a prominent Mestizo family, had everything going for him. Unbelievably, he is accused of the kidnap, rape and murder of the sisters despite demonstrable evidence of his innocence. Beefy and tough, with a past of petty offenses, Larrañaga neatly fits the role of ‘privileged thug’. This is how he is cast by a frenzied media circus that swarms his arrest and trial, and cheers his eventual sentence to death by lethal injection. The story shocked two filmmakers, who decided to give up their jobs in order to make Give Up Tomorrow, a film which blatantly reveals corruption in its purest form.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer    Official website  

. Dancing with Dictators: The Story of the Last Foreign Publisher in Burma
Australia 2011 / 80min. / Burmese with English subtitles.
Director Hugh Piper. Producer Helen Barrow.

“Ross Dunkley is a mix of pragmatism and idealism — a free speech warrior prepared to do business in a country dominated by the dead hand of the military dictatorship. Originally, influential liberals supported Dunkley’s newspaper because they wanted reform but 4 years later, following a hard-line crackdown, many of his colleagues were jailed with Dunkley hanging on by his finger nails. Set against the country’s first election in 20 years, this observational documentary looks at Burma from the inside. The film was risky for the filmmakers and participants. The filmmakers’ presence during the election did not go unnoticed and 4 days after the vote, they were deported, focussing attention on Dunkley. Shortly afterwards, Dunkley was arrested and charged with immigration offences linked to an alleged assault on a woman. He spent 7 weeks in Burma’s notorious Insein prison before being bailed and appeared in court over 20 times. Once freed, he remains committed to regaining control of the newspaper and continuing the fight for freedom of speech in a country he has grown to love.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video Trailer   Official website  

. Dead Men Talking
Australia/China 2011 / 52min. / Chinese with English subtitles.
Director/Producer Robin Newell.

“Every year in China, around a thousand condemned prisoners are executed, a fact that the Chinese government does very little to hide. The theory is that if people know what the consequences will be of their actions, they will be less likely to turn to crime. Journalist Ding Yu’s idea of talking to condemned prisoners shortly before their execution turned out to be a brilliant one. In Henan province, 4 million people tune in to her TV series each week. Her show has now featured 225 such interviews, some of which are featured in this documentary. In the process, we witness Yu’s manner of working and learn something about how the Chinese legal system functions. We also see how Chinese society deals with the complex issues surrounding murder and the death penalty. We see Yu interviewing, in the editing suite, and at editorial meetings where technical matters such as lighting alternate with the personal lives and intense emotions of the various parties involved. For the first time, Yu herself is interviewed about how she processes the conversations, both as a professional and as a human being. Despite the many tales of violence — all of which she can still recall – she is sometimes hit hard in her role as observer. (DocEdge 2012)

Official website

. Who killed Chea Vichea?
Thailand/USA 2010 / 57min. / French, Khmer with English subtitles.
Director Bradley Cox. Producers Jeffrey Saunders, Rich Garella.

“Chea Vichea was Cambodia’s most respected and influential labour leader. Despite beatings and death threats, he fought alongside the workers, winning better wages and conditions from the country’s billion-dollar garment industry and becoming a hero to millions. One sunny morning, Vichea stopped to read the daily paper at a newsstand. A motorcycle pulled up and the passenger stepped off, walked over to Vichea and calmly gunned him down. The police arrested and convicted two men. What seems at first to be justice done starts to look like a frame-up as questions get asked. Who Killed Chea Vichea? is the result of filmmaker Bradley Cox’s five-year marathon effort to expose corruption and a frame-up that has shook Cambodia’s façade of democracy. The resulting implications reach far beyond the police station and the courtroom. Cox reveals the forces behind a murder that sent an unmistakable message of fear and the frame-up that sent two innocent men to jail. Since the film was completed, the Cambodian government has sent riot police to break up screenings, vowing to prevent them “wherever they are held” and threatening to seize any copies it finds. The film takes us deep into the heart of darkness, to the source of the terror that maintains one of the world’s most corrupt regimes. (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer   Official website  

Generations / Uncovering family stories and relationships.

. The Man Who Changed Shanghai
Slovakia 2010 / 68min.
Director Ladislav Kabos. Producers Ladislav Kabos, Svatava Maria Kabosova.

“Three siblings, Martin (87) from Monaco, Theo (85) from Canada and Alessa (82) from the US, narrate the fascinating true-life story of their father L.E. Hudec (1893-1958), a famous architect in Shanghai. Hudec was a Slovak who arrived in Shanghai as a WWII refugee. For the first time, Alessa visits Slovakia the birthplace of her father. Together with her brother Theo, they decide to visit China after 63 years — the country of their childhood and youth. This film explores the life of Hudec, father of Asian high-rises and is an authentic testimony of life for Europeans in Colonial Shanghai before The People’s Republic of China. In his 30-year career, all but one of Hudec’s 65 structures was in China. It includes never-before-seen 16mm home-movies that were shot between 1927-1938 by Hudec himself.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer  Official website   

Heroes and Icons / Inspiring and memorable individuals.

. Aung San Suu Kyi — Lady of No Fear
Denmark 2010 / 64min.
Director Anne Gyrithe Bonne. Producer Helle Ulsteen.

“I was a prisoner but I always felt free because I was not frightened…So for me real freedom is freedom from fear.” Aung San Suu Kyi
Suu Kyi is known as ‘a golden bird in a cage’. In the West, she is a symbol of peace and reconciliation and awarded countless prizes including the Nobel Peace Prize. But who is she? In this film, her family, friends and close colleagues tell about a daughter, wife, friend, mother and rebel – who met deep grief and deprivation early in life.
This a close-up of the freedom fighting woman and her husband, Dr Michael Aris, who died in 1999 on his 53rd birthday, prevented from seeing his wife. Together they gave up their normal life and marriage for the cause of freedom in Burma.” (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer    Official website

Culture Vultures / A shot of global culture and arts.

. Big in Bollywood
USA 2011 / 74min. / Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu with English subtitles.
Directors Bill Bowles, Kenny Meehan. Producers Bill Bowles, Kenny Meehan, Tyler MacNiven, Matt McCroskey.
Featuring: Omi Vaidya

“From Hollywood Zero to Bollywood Hero” is the tagline for Big in Bollywood. A struggling young actor in LA, American born Vaidya just got married and is looking for his big break. He auditions for a part in a Bollywood film to be shot in America. He doesn’t get the role but is offered another part. No one can imagine what will happen next. Four of Omi’s college buddies fly to Mumbai to see the film’s premiere. When they arrive everything is as expected – it’s uneventful, nothing happens, there is no one to greet him but at least he has his friends and family to support him. All this changes within three days of the film’s opening. 3 Idiots become a national phenomenon as the film becomes the most successful in Bollywood history, making the previously unknown Omi becomes an overnight star. But the glitz and glamour of being a national sensation is not the easy ride it seems. Omi struggles with the pressure of needing to continue his career quickly while he is still ‘hot’. Big in Bollywood tells the stuff of dreams. (DocEdge 2012)

Video trailer   Official website 

New Zealand / The latest Kiwi-made Docs.

In the NZ section, we especially like

. Yakel 3D
New Zealand/Vanuatu 2011 / 70min.
Director/Producer Rachael Wilson.

“Yakel 3D is New Zealand’s first 3D feature release, directed by Rachael Wilson and shot by Emmy Award winning cameraman Michael Single. It beautifully explores the fragility of one of the last primitive cultures left today. Set in a remote Vanuatu tribal village and shot over three years, this is the remarkable story of 108-year-old Chief Kowia near the end of his long, eventful life. A survivor of tribal wars, colonization and epidemics, he has rejected the modern world in favour of a life free of material goods — without money or clothes. It is their jungle that provides life’s necessities. As the charismatic Chief faces the end of his life, he worries what will happen to his people when he is no longer there to guide them. Can his culture stay strong? Or will his people be tempted by greater riches and leave behind their tribal lives?” (DocEdge 2012)

Film Reviews
• Yakel 3D (Peter Calder, NZ Herald)
21-Apr-2012 Avatar and a Vanuatu village are not as different as you may think. Peter Calder explains.

Video trailer   Official website  

Documentary Edge 2012 runs in Auckland (26th April – 13th May 2012) and Wellington (17th May – 3rd June).


Documentary Edge Festival is Australasia’s leading international documentary film festival held annually in Auckland and Wellington from April to June. The Festival showcases the very best in documentary films from New Zealand and around the world. It also includes a Gala Awards, Q&A Sessions with filmmakers, various social functions and special events.

Related posts:

Back from Pusan, Sean Farnel (Hot Docs) speaks about Asian docs trends
Upcoming Busan Contents Market to Showcase Documentaries (ChosunIlbo)
GZ DOC 2011: competition and screening application open
A doc about India among the top winners of 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
2 docs from Asia won AIBD World TV Awards

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.