New Zealand’s Jewish Movie Bonanza

April 26, 2012 by Miriam Bell
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Documentary enthusiasts in New Zealand will have an unprecedented number of Israeli and/or Jewish themed films to choose from at this year’s Documentary Edge Festival.

The festival, which will feature 72 films from New Zealand and around the world, will run from April 26 to May 13 in Auckland and from May 17 to June 3 in Wellington.

3News entertainment editor and festival ambassador Kate Rodger suggests that documentary fans pull up a chair, tuck a napkin under their chin, and prepare to feast their senses on another delectable smorgasbord of films.

“It is thrilling to see the vast array of films on offer, a dish and a course for everybody, in a celebration of the world’s most talented true story tellers,” says Rodger – who thinks choosing what to indulge in will be the hardest part.

The documentaries focusing on Israeli and/or Jewish subjects and themes are:


  • Life in Stills chronicles the special relationship 96-year-old Miriam Weissenstein forges with her grandson, Ben, as they join forces to save a photo shop and the one million negatives documenting Israel’s defining moments. Despite the generation gap and many conflicts, Ben and Miriam embark on a heart-wrenching journey, comprising of many humorous and touching moments.


  • An intriguing film offering a fresh and thought-provoking view of the way 2nd and 3rd generations of Holocaust victims deal with historic memories, The Flat is a personal story from director Arnon Goldfinger. After the death of his grandparents, Arnon and his mother are tasked with emptying their Tel Aviv flat. Upon discovering the pictures, letters and documents that reveal his grandparents’ complex lives, Arnon uncovers an uncomfortable secret.


  • Hitler’s Children introduces audiences to close family members of prominent Nazis, as they talk about what it is like to deal with the weight of their family history – coming to terms with the legacy of being descendants of Himmler, Frank, Goering and Hess. This film lays bare the scars two generations of Germans still wear in their souls.


  • Award-winning filmmaker Tomer Heymann points the camera on both himself and his family in The Queen Has No Crown. He explores the politics of choice, family, loyalty, immigration, belonging, displacement and sexuality. But he frames this within the wider context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions between Israel’s Arabs and Jews, its secular and ultra-orthodox citizens, and the struggle for gay/human rights.


  • Israeli director Duki Dror presents Incessant Visions which is a cinematic story about German architect Erich Mendelsohn who changed the history of architecture. His life was as enigmatic and tragic as the 20th century itself.


  • Dolphin Boy is the remarkable, heart-wrenching tale of Morad – a teenager from an Arab village in Israel who has disconnected himself from humans following a violent attack. In a last ditch effort before being hospitalised in a mental institution, he is taken to be treated with dolphins. After months of silence, Morad begins speaking again – but he has erased his past and refuses to return home to his mother.


  • Ex-cop Wayne Stringer is New Zealand’s Nazi Hunter, having investigated 47 “displaced persons” who originally came to New Zealand at the end of WWII. As Stringer travels to the Baltic States to link up with other investigators and gain access to war records, the documentary asks if New Zealand has become more or less a safe place for modern era war criminals looking for a safe haven.


As usual the programme is divided into sections (New Zealand, World Cinema, Culture Vultures, Heroes & Icons, Shorts and Generations), but this year there is also a new Human Rights section.

In addition, there are two “spotlight” sections this year: Future Watch and Arab Spring.

Along with the documentary screenings, Auckland festival-goers will have to opportunity to participate in the annual Screen Edge Forum (May 2-4) and the Gala Awards (May 3), which will take place during the festival.

In Auckland, the festival will screen at Event Cinemas Newmarket, with lunch time screenings at the Auckland Art Gallery. In Wellington, the festival will play at Angelika at Reading Cinemas Courtenay, with lunch time screenings at the City Gallery Wellington.

For more information on the films, screenings, bookings and the other events on offer, visit



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