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Doc Edge 2020 Set to Impress

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June 10, 2020

Michael Donaldson

Think of a button-pushing topic. Donald Trump? Meat-eating? UFOs? You name it and there’s likely to be a documentary on the subject at this year’s Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival, in partnership with Chorus.

And what’s more you can watch all it from the comfort of your lounge, with organisers – mindful of Covid-19 – creating New Zealand’s first entirely online film festival. There’s 83 films to choose from but here's a sneak preview of a few that will keep you talking long after the credits roll.


UNFIT: A psychological thriller

Warning: if you’re a Donald Trump fan, you might need your blood pressure checked after this one … right from the start the cards are laid on the table.

This is an indictment of Trump’s personality on a grand scale, with psychologists diagnosing his very public behaviour to conclude that the US President is a “malignant narcissist” and possibly suffering early onset dementia.

But the documentary goes deeper than a psychological profile of one man – at its heart is a diagnosis of American society, picking apart the anger and disenfranchisement that helped pull Trump into the White House.

Apart from psychologists, we also hear from military and security experts, historians, and former Trump insiders, including George Conway, husband of Trump’s controversial  advisor Kellyanne Conway.  Between them they deliver dire warnings about the potential nuclear destruction Trump could cause as a result of his psychological state and deteriorating brain function.

This documentary was made before the Covid-19 pandemic and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd – and watching Trump’s response to these events only lends more weight to the documentary’s premise, including the comparisons with Hitler.



If you’ve seen Searching for Sugarman – the 2012 documentary about legendary musician Rodriguez – you’ll feel a sense a déjà vu as Miguelito unfolds.

Miguelito was “discovered” at the age of 11 by well-known music producer Harvey Averne while singing in at Puerto Rico’s airport in 1973. Miguel was one of 11 children from an impoverished family who relied on his busking to help put food on the table.

Averne convinces the family to come with him to New York so Miguelito can make an album and perform at Madison Square Garden. Averne saw the child as a Michael Jackson of salsa but the album failed to sell and the disillusioned family returned to Puerto Rico and Miguel disappeared.

As in Sugarman there are plenty of rumours about what happened to Miguelito – killed in a car crash – but Australian film-maker Sam Zubrycki is determined to uncover the truth some 46 years later.

It’s a journey through Puerto Rican culture, rich with sensational salsa music, and an exploration of exploitation.


The Prophet and the Space Aliens

About the same time Miguelito recorded his only album in New York, Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, a former singer and journalist, claims to have had a close encounter with alien visitors, who invited him aboard their ship and gave him a mission.

That mission was to spread the word – that humans were created by an alien race known as Elohim. Vorilhon changed his name to Rael and started the Raelian religion.

Raelians believe in cool things like world peace and being happy – and take a liberal view on sex. But there are a number of controversial beliefs and claims, including that they successfully cloned a human in 2002.

The documentaryexplores the religion by focusing on what its followers do as opposed to what they say. It becomes a “judge for yourself” examination of a slightly odd group of individuals who love to sing, dance, play pentanque and meditate – all harmless and healthy activities.


Meat The Future

Possibly the most relevant, intriguing, and important documentary of the festival. As the world’s population grows we cannot produce enough meat to feed everyone. And what’s more trying to produce enough meat will accelerate the rate of climate change through methane production and deforestation.

We’re in a lose-lose situation with meat. But what if it was possible to create all the meat we need – not processed that plant matter, aka fake meat – but real meat minus the animal. No climate cost, no animals slaughtered … it’s a win-win.

It’s a hard one to get your head around but as you follow the team at Memphis Meats in San Francisco as the make “cellular”  meat, the methods become clear – and it seems like the only possible future if we want to continue to eat beef, chicken, pork etc. But of course this technological breakthrough comes with all sort of questions – such as: can you call it meat if there’s no animal involved? And would people actually eat it?

It's mind-altering information but we need to get our heads around it because it’s going to happen.


Mr Toilet

Did you know there’s a World Toilet Day?

Yes, November 19 is an official United Nations international observance day to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis And it’s the single-handed creation of a slightly crazy Singaporean, Jack Sim, known around the world as Mr Toilet.

Naturally, there’s a lot of adolescent-level humour in this documentary about a straight-talking crusader for good toileting practices, but that’s largely because Sim is a like child trapped in a 60-year-old’s body – according to his children.

Sim travels mostly to India and China trying to bring better sanitation to the 40 per cent of the world’s population who still do their business in the open air for all to see.   



Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival, in partnership with Chorus June 12-July 5. For more information and to buy tickets go to


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