Documentary Edge Festival becomes Academy Award qualifying festival

Dan Shanan of the Documentary Edge Festival.

Dan Shanan of the Documentary Edge Festival.

New Zealand's own Documentary Edge Festival can soon take it's place next to the likes of Sundance and Doc NYC as an Oscar-qualifying film festival.

The good news comes as Doco Edge, Australasia's premiere international documentary film festival, celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

Becoming an Oscar-qualifying festival means that films which win Best International Short or Best New Zealand Short can now be considered for Academy Award nominations.

There are currently 38 film festivals world-wide on the list.

Doc Edge executive director Dan Shanan said the team were thrilled when approached by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to apply.

The qualification comes too late for Doc Edge's 2015 winners to make the cut, but is a huge opportunity for this year's winners, which will be announced at a Gala awards evening.

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New Zealand has so-far been under-represented in the short documentary category of the Oscars, Shanan says.

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"Hopefully we will see some nominations in the coming years, and I suspect it will increase the quality of the films even more.

"We see a lot of short documentaries made here in New Zealand but they are often made for television, with a real television-style. Hopefully this will help with the professional development of film makers, because you can tell a wonderful story in a short form and make it very visually beautiful and appealing.

Shanan expects the news will be a push for filmmakers to take their art to the next level.

Since its inaugural run 10 years ago, Doc Edge has screened several films which have gone on to receive Oscar nominations or awards, including FreeheldThe Blood of Yingzhou District and Tashi and the Monk.

Doc Edge has also announced a new partnership with NZ On Air, which will sponsor four awards this year - Best NZ Feature Documentary, Best NZ Short Documentary, Best NZ Online Documentary or Factual Series, and Best NZ TV Documentary or Series.

Shanan says the festival team feel very proud to boast their new accolade, and are excited to enter their second decade of recognising quality documentary film.

The Documentary Edge Festival takes place at Wellington's The Roxy Cinema in Miramar from May 4-15, and Auckland's Q Theatre, May 18-29. 

 - Stuff

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