Manawatū Producer Hosts International Film Festival in Aotearoa


The award-winning films Off The Rails have been nominated for the Golden Alexander Award at the 2022 Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.

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The award-winning films Off The Rails have been nominated for the Golden Alexander Award at the 2022 Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.

As international borders open up, film producer Rachael Penman is bringing 100 international documentaries and 11 overseas filmmakers to New Zealand.

Penman, who grew up in Feilding and has lived in Palmerston North, has worked hard to roll out the 17th edition of Doc Edge, an Oscar-qualified international documentary festival.

The festival, starting June 1, would feature virtual film screenings across the country and in-person screenings at selected cinemas in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

With a selection of 100 international films and 13 from Aotearoa, the 40-day event offers a rare opportunity for documentary lovers to interact with the filmmakers.

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Rachael Penman (right) poses with her mother Karen Cawthray (left) and Nana Marjory Edmonds at Kowhai Park in Feilding.

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Rachael Penman (right) poses with her mother Karen Cawthray (left) and Nana Marjory Edmonds at Kowhai Park in Feilding.

Penman said the festival was unique because it allowed filmmakers to meet their audiences and engage in meaningful discussion.

“Documentaries always fuel conversations. The festival therefore allows virtual and in-person audiences to interact with the filmmakers.

For the first time, online viewers would enjoy a virtual hub where they could meet filmmakers and other audiences from across the country.

While online viewers could enjoy live viewing parties and Q&A sessions with the directors, in-person sessions would be held in theaters.

Four international directors, two producers and five film subjects would also be available for in-person interactions.

Finite: The Climate of Change by Rich Felgate is an inspiring take on the world of direct action and the fight against climate breakdown.

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Finite: The Climate of Change by Rich Felgate is an inspiring take on the world of direct action and the fight against climate breakdown.

The virtual cinema would open with the world premiere of Finite: The Climate of Change, featuring the struggle of environmental activists battling to save a 12,000-year-old forest in Europe.

Reminiscing about his formative years, Penman said that few opportunities were available in Manawatū for young theater enthusiasts.

“Even though I was involved in the local theater in town, the opportunities were limited.”

Penman planned to bring the festival to cinemas in Manawatū soon.

Rachael Penman was involved in local theater while growing up in Manawatū.

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Rachael Penman was involved in local theater while growing up in Manawatū.

“I would love to bring the festival to cinemas in Palmerston North.”

She encourages students at Manawatū School to participate in Doc Edge Schools, an educational program for students interested in drama, film, and television.

“It’s a great way for budding filmmakers to dip their toes into the world of film festivals and gain experience.”

The festival will feature several award-winning documentaries, including Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes, which recently won Best Documentary at Cannes; Peter Day’s Off The Rails which was nominated for the Golden Alexander Award at the 2022 Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival; and Maisie, the winning documentary from this year’s Dublin International Film Festival.

The festival also features Shaunak Sen's All That Breathes, which recently won Best Documentary at Cannes.

Provided / Stuff

The festival also features Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes, which recently won Best Documentary at Cannes.

Seventeen feature films and all 39 short films would be available anytime from June 1. During the festival, the rest of the films would be added after the theatrical screenings.

The event was selected as an Oscar-qualifying festival for short documentaries in 2016 and for feature-length documentaries in 2018, paving the way for winners of the best categories of shorts and features to be considered for an Oscar.

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