Documentary festival tells it as it is

17:00, May 13 2014
Dan Shanan
REEL LIFE: Organiser of the Documentary Edge Festival organiser Dan Shanan believes documentaries play an important role in society.

Chilean film-maker Patricio Guzman once said a country without documentaries is like a family without a photo album.

Documentary Edge Film Festival organiser Dan Shanan could not agree more.

"If we do not have documentaries there will not be any documentation of who we are, where we are, and how people from the future will look back on this era," the Remuera resident says.

In 2003 Shanan and co-director Alex Lee felt there was nothing on offer in New Zealand when it came to a documentary specific festival.

The pair went on to form the The Documentary New Zealand Trust, an organisation that promotes and advocates for documentaries.

The annual festival is their main event and is in its ninth year.


"It has now become a major event that is on everyone's arts and culture calendars," Shanan says.

"The audience has grown to over 10,000 and we would like to double that in the next couple of years."

This year the festival features 58 films from all over the world including five made in New Zealand.

"In New Zealand there is not a lot of opportunity to watch quality documentaries. The festival provides that option and most of these films will never be shown on television."

One of the films that caught Shanan's eye is A Brony Tale which looks at middle-aged men obsessed with the television show My Little Pony.

"These people are as ordinary as anyone and that's what is fascinating about it, how does it happen, what's going on?" Shanan says.

There are three people including Shanan on the selection team and the trio watch hundreds of films.

"It is a difficult process because there are so many good films out there and you need to narrow it down so the programme appeals to a wide audience," he says.

"We fight for a lot of the things we each want in the festival."

For the first time the festival will provide a chance for audiences to engage with some of the film-makers in hour-long question and answer sessions.

Shanan believes this will allow audiences to see what goes into making a documentary and give people access to critically acclaimed documentary makers.

"Documentary film-making is a labour of love, blood, sweat and tears," he says.

"It's the passion and dedication that documentary film-makers have and we want to celebrate it."

The Documentary Edge Festival runs from May 21 till June 2 at Q Theatre.

Visit nz for a full programme and ticket information.

East And Bays Courier