Tag Archives: DocEdge 19

DocEdge 19 | Buddy

Netherlands | 2018 | 86 min | Dutch | Heddy Honigmann

Buddy is a sensitive exploration of the relationship between service dogs and the people they are paired with. The film clearly illustrates the importance of the animal assistance, and the emotional support these dogs provide for their humans. These people suffer from physical disabilities ranging from blindness, mobility issues, degenerative and genetic disorders, through to PTSD and autism.

Heart-warming at times, the film takes on a fleeting darkness of tone when Trevor, a sufferer of PTSD, gives a brief recount of his experience as a soldier, and some harrowing events which may have contributed to his PTSD; in addition to this he also suffers from a degenerating physical disability on-set by stepping on a landmine during his service. You develop the distinct impression day-to-day life would not be manageable for Trevor without his service dog Mister.

Honigmann effectively communicates the significance of these dog/human partnerships, using measured pacing and background score, making Buddy a must-see for animal lovers.

Screenings: Auckland 5 June, 4.30PM & 8 June, 4.15PM at the Q Theatre; and Wellington 21 June, 4.30PM & 22 June, 2.15PM at The Roxy

The 14th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 30 May – 9 June and Wellington 13 – 23 June – www.docedge.nz

DocEdge 19 | Sunset Over Mulholland Drive

The opening credits roll in a style most reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood …

With a sweeping musical score, elaborate car chases and italic typeface across the screen that pays homage to it’s stars – ‘Sunset over Mulholland Drive’ does not leave much to question, as to the entertaining subject of this film.

At the corner of Spielberg Drive and up through Mulholland, a tour guide takes his passengers, regaling them with stories from a bygone era; of talent agents and big names in the motion picture industry.  This particular retiring haven has been home to a wealth of talent of the octogenarian age since it was founded 95 years ago.

Sunset over Mulholland Drive, covers a time lapse between a budding group of writers and their personal pilgrimage; sharing their philosophies and purpose for writing.  The classic film ‘Casablanca’ becomes the focal point for this creative writing group, as the residents explore the themes surrounding the film and the paths it’s protaganists; Rick, Elsa and Victor, ultimately choose to take.  The characters in the film; somehow providing an idyllic parallel to themselves throughout their patterned lives ….

The wealth of talent residing within the comfortable confines of this leafy suburb are incredible: Connie Sawyer, a longtime actress, paints colourful and youthful snapshots, through anecdotes of an erstwhile age. From her starry-eyed beginnings in Vaudeville, to the big screen. Tony Lawrence, original ‘Hawaii 5’0 – producer and writer, living in the shadow of Elvis’s twin brother, also makes an appearance.

Cut to a humorous repartee between long-married couple Deborah (a psychotherapist) and Joel (a former producer), as they share an amusing story of a dubious producer she once dated, with comical interjections from her husband and details from their latest creative collaboration, ‘How to stay married without killing each other’, this documentary is both whimsical and endearing

Daniel Selznick, son of Oscar winning producer David O Selznick (Gone with the Wind) and grandson of Hollywood’s honcho of cinema, Louis B Mayer (founder of MGM) is one of the newer residents and has himself, earned his own star on Hollywood’s walk of fame (figuratively speaking) through his contribution to the production of ‘American Graffiti’ – one of the highest grossing films of all time.

We are also privy to the dreams of veteran actor Wright King (A Streetcar Named Desire) whose role in the film earns him the status of screen siren Vivien Leigh’s one-time love interest.

Sunset Over Mulholland is witty, uplifting and inspirational.  A very touching and tender documentary that skillfully uses imagery and physical vehicles of life (such as classic cars) as a throwback to a golden and much romanticized era.  Even George Clooney makes an appearance, as part-benefactor of this haven, founded for these important players in Hollywood cinematic history.

Sunset over Mulholland successfully provides us with intimate insights from it’s residents, it also shows us that these veterans have no desire in slowing down just yet.  Dena Dietrich, one actress in particular is still going strong, and has more spunk than those half her age!

And what would Hollywood be without classic love story?  Sunset over Mulholland also features the amorous romance between Tony (producer/writer) and Maddie (actress) beginning in of all places, a retirement setting. Age proving no barrier for this aspiring group of artists.

The classic tune ‘As time goes by’ aptly plays in the background of the theatre, while the audience are all seated,  transfixed to the screen as the projector screen rolls on, reminiscing of those that have gone before …

Once a lifestyle full of silver screens and red carpet, it is now all mobility scooters and guide dogs.  Yet this film is far from a tragedy, but a beautiful and enduring love story,  as the couple Joel and Deborah demonstrate in the final scenes.  Couple goals are eternally fulfilled, and in turn, this becomes a documentary that goes beyond heartwarming.

The film reel rolls on … across the back screen of the car as it cruises across Mulholland drive …  The very fitting choice of film title becomes even more apparent, and timeless.

****4 Stars!

Sunset Over Mulholland Drive (2018)  –   Director: Uli Gaulke      Country: Germany       Running Time:97 mins

~ Showing times:

AKL:  Mon 3rd June, Thurs 6th June, Sat 8th June @Q Theatre                                                                                      WGN:  Thurs 13th & Sat 15th June @Roxy Cinema

DocEdge 19 | War of Art

Norway | 2018 | 102 min | English | Tommy Gulliksen

First off, I must emphasise how much I enjoyed War of Art – if you have any interest or curiosity of politics and modern art and how they meet in North Korea, this is for you.

Norwegian director and artist Morten Traavik began collaborating with the regime in 2011 with the aim of introducing the concept of modern art in what would seem an indoctrinated and fascist society, wit the ultimate hope of opening the channels of communication through creative practices.

Traavik brings a group of artists hailing from a range of disciplines, nationalities and backgrounds – all with varied reasons for participating. Some out of genuine curiosity, and others with the desire to stir the proverbial pot. Morten Traavik states in conversation with one of the artists during the film that he loves the clash of cultures they’re experiencing, finds it beautiful. This eventually develops into visible frustration as he and the team of creatives he’s assembled face barrier after barrier.

Due to heavy isolation from the west since the late 40’s, North Korea is still considered an enigma to us on the outside, which heavily fuels the popularity of film such as this. War of Art at it’s roots is a film attempting to document North Korea and it’s politics, rather than the aforementioned artists collaborative project, and really is  fascinating.

Screenings: Auckland 2 June, 10.15AM & 5 June 2.15PM at the Q Theatre; 6 June, 12.30PM at Auckland Art Gallery, and Wellington 16 June, 10.30AM & 19 June, 2.30PM at The Roxy

 

The 14th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 30 May – 9 June and Wellington 13 – 23 June – www.docedge.nz

DocEdge19 | Searching Eva

Berlin based. Virgo. Bisexual. Sex Worker. Anarchist. Musician. Recovering addict … With such a myriad of labels attributed to just one, outwardly complex individual, ‘Searching Eva’ is a documentary sure to push the boundaries of raw candour and identity, as it explores the life of social media star Eva Colle’ through the uncensored and often affected, lens.

The film opens in whispered and hushed voice-overs on an otherwise blank computer screen monitor.  Self-doubt, fatalism and naivety are a few of the topics that are touched upon, as the voices parallel those in one’s head, goading the subject.

The artistic expression and avant-garde culture of Berlin is a focal point for this documentary.  The city’s strong resonance to the creative and questioning inclinations of Eva Colle’ (the subject) are inescapable.  It is also a base for director  Pia Hellenthal, which explains the strong connection and affinity the city holds for them both.                        Location is a very important aspect of this film.  As it documents the wide disparity between Eva’s homeland – a seemingly banal village laced with communist history, to the liberal and experimental metropolis of Berlin, Germany, through cinematography and sound.

In ‘Searching Eva’, Hellenthal also uses very modern and pertinent methods to bring forth some of the underlying themes of this documentary; with flinching and antagonising statements, like ‘Rotting at 25′ (referencing age) alongside honest yet projecting responses to the comments and questions posed regarding sex, weight and purpose  – all streamed to the viewer over computer screen prompts, in the same mode as that of an online chatroom.

We learn the sometimes harrowing truth about Eva (not her given name) and her unconventional life choices, through frank, honest and open conversations between herself and those around her – from potential flatmates to those with her friends and most intimate family members.

Nothing is shied away from, nor is considered taboo in this film. Perhaps even intentionally, as to rattle the awareness of the viewer so we must acknowledge the situational reality of Eva, and in doing so, also challenge and reflect upon our own thought processes and judgement of self.

Searching Eva can be, at times, somewhat uneasy to watch, from obvious bed stains to exposing the most intimate body parts with such detachment, for her they seem to be just a normality.  Stories of her upbringing; growing up alongside heroin-addicted parents, leaving home at 17 and jarring sexual encounters, are some of the most confronting and saddening.  However, in some ways, these moments have paved the way for the artistic direction of the protagonist of the film’s online persona.

Furthermore, her often bleak and melancholic insights inspired me to search for her material online and delve deeper into the real Eva.

A very creative and honest insight into the life of a modern age internet star.  Searching Eva also is important, in that is also addresses the issues that drive the age of the milennial Bloggers/Instagramers/Tweeters etc … and is the internet a positive platform for this?  My conclusion after delving deeper into online posts and her cogitation throughout this film, is that Eva Colle’ is just like many of us out there, searching to be loved and accepted.

Despite her layered and intricate past, Eva leaves the impression of  being fragile and childlike.  This can make the message of the film confusing, and also poses the question as to whether there need be a message at all.  However, perhaps we can find this in Eva’s apparent ease and calmness in one closing scene.  Perhaps she chooses to display this to us, as to demonstrate her own acceptance and/or a sign of regaining control.  In summary, it is evident that the major impact Eva Colle’ has made on her followers is in helping them embrace their identity and be comfortable in their own skin.

Director: Pia Hellenthal                  Country: Germany                Running Time: 83mins

Searching Eva(2019) is part of the DocEdge Festival 2019 and screenings are at the following locations and times:

AKL – Q Theatre.  Sun 2nd (6pm) & Tues 4th Jun (8.45pm)                                                                                                WGN – Roxy Cinema.  Tues 18 (8.15pm) & Fri 21st Jun (8.45pm)

 

DocEdge 19 | China Love

Australia | 2018 | 96 min | English, Mandarin, Korean | Olivia Martin-McGuire

China Love premiers as the DocEdge festival this year, a fascinating look into the competitive and lucrative business of planned pre-wedding photography in China – the growth of entrepreneurialism at it’s finest.

The $80+ billion-dollar industry is no doubt, at least in part, a result of China’s relatively recent and rapid economic growth, with clients paying as much as $400,000 USD for their perfect wedding shots advertising marital bliss. Often planned and carried out months in advance to the actual wedding – multiple costumes, sets, backdrops, and sometimes even travel to exotic locations can factor into these packages, which range from smaller-budget options to ostentatious and lavish portrayals of affluence and wealth and status for the nouveau riche.

China Love provides insight into what has now become the “dream” of many young couples in a thriving China, this social expectation and norm for the soon-to-be wed; Well-worth the watch.

As a bonus, Director Olivia Martin-McGuire will present China Love and take part in Q&A sessions at the following screenings; Auckland | Rangatira, Q Theatre | 2 June | 1:45 PM
Wellington | The Roxy 1 | 15 June | 4:00 PM

Other Screening: Auckland 30 May, 2.45PM & 2 June, 1.45PM at the Q Theatre, and Wellington 13 June, 4.45PM & 15 June, 4PM at The Roxy

The 14th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 30 May – 9 June and Wellington 13 – 23 June – www.docedge.nz