A festival of documentaries

Real life and reel life rarely coincide, except in the art of the documentary film.

  Is She or Isn't He? - a new NZ documentary.

In this year's Documentary Edge Festival 2011 - which sadly only screens in Auckland (till March 16) and Wellington (March 1 - 27) this year - there are around 600 films to choose from, spanning a wide range, from very cinematic documentaries, to those which are more independent and more cinema-verite style, according festival co-director Alex Lee.

Here's his pick of this year's lineup. "I think a lot of us would remember the hippie generation Dirty Bloody Hippies, made by Dan Salmon [it's] a wonderful, joyous celebration and look back at the subculture that actually defined a lot of moments in our New Zealand history. It’s wonderful to see Tim Shadbolt  speaking about his days as a hippie. The documentary is irreverent, funny, but very, very worthwhile," Lee says.

The other festival director, Dan Shanan, has his own recommendation: "I Am the River is the story about a collection of old 19th-century Maori photographs found in an attic.  The collection was both very rare and very beautiful. The collection ultimately goes to auction, which causes controversy. The story then switches to become more of a story between Maori and Pakeha fighting over how this collection should be distributed and preserved."

There's everything from fanboys angry at George Lucas, South American revolution and transgender issues, to politics, standup comedy, genocide and "sweaty naked Finnish men crying". Sounds like a hoot.

To win a double pass to either the Auckland or Wellington Documentary Edge Festivals just tell us your favourite documentary and why. (Here's a link to their site.)

(If you're from another town other than Auckland or Wellington and win, we'll find you another film prize - tickets or DVDs, most likely.)