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Sharks Snap Up The Big Awards At Doc Edge

Jun 2, 2021

Kiwi-born, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Sally Aitken took home the big wins tonight at the Doc Edge Awards at Auckland’s Wintergarden, The Civic. The Oscar-qualifying festival is pleased to announce the winners of their 2021 awards, celebrating the exceptional work of filmmakers across the globe.

Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks was the recipient of the Best New Zealand Feature and Best New Zealand Director awards. The film details the extraordinary life story of marine maverick and Australian icon Valerie Taylor. The Jury was impressed by the bold storytelling and the stylistic and narrative cohesion of the film. Sally Aitken will be in Auckland on Monday 7 June to attend the screening at SkyCity Theatre and is available for interviews. Watch the trailer here.

Taking out Best International Feature was Wuhan Wuhan from award-winning director and Doc Edge alumnus Yung Chang. At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan city, five deeply-human stories intersect, revealing the universality of our struggles and experiences. With unprecedented access, the film makes a complex tale look effortless. Chang directed the entire film remotely. Watch a clip of the film here.

Director and producer Dan Sadgrove took out Best New Zealand Short for Garage Romantic, following a big dreamer from the small town of Togliatti, Russia, who ponders life while building a rocket-powered sled made from discarded trash. See the trailer here.

Best International Short went to Say His Name: Five Days For George Floyd, director Cy Dodson’s observation of the unrest in the days following the murder of George Floyd by police. The jury commended Dodson’s art and craft in documenting the events as they unfolded. Watch the trailer here.

The winners of Best NZ Short, NZ Feature, International Short and International Feature all qualify for consideration for the 2022 Academy Awards.

The 16th annual Doc Edge Festival is filled with 83 documentaries playing from 3 June until 11 July, with in-theatre screenings at Auckland’s SkyCity Theatre 3 – 7 June, The Civic 10 – 13 June, and at The Roxy in Wellington 17 – 27 June. The online festival runs nationwide 4 June – 11 July.

Full list of Doc Edge Awards 2021 Winners:

New Zealand Competition

  • Best New Zealand Feature: Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks (Dir. Sally Aitken)
    • Special Mention: High Tide Don’t Hide (Dirs. Niva Kay, Emily McDowell, Nia Phipps, Phil Stebbing)
  • Best New Zealand Short: Garage Romantic (Dir. Dan Sadgrove)
  • Best New Zealand Director: Sally Aitken (Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks)
  • Best New Zealand Editing: Thomas Gleeson (High Tide Don’t Hide)
  • Best New Zealand Cinematography: Jacob Bryant (The Garden of Evil)
  • Best New Zealand Emerging Filmmaker: Alistair Harding (The Sea Decides)

International Competition

  • Best International Feature: Wuhan Wuhan (Canada/USA, Dir. Yung Chang)
    • Special Mention: Sabaya (Sweden, Dir. Hogir Hirori)
  • Best International Short: Say His Name: Five Days For George Floyd (USA, Dir. Cy Dodson)
    • Special Mention: Souvenir Souvenir (France, Dir. Bastien Dubois)
  • Best International Director: Hogir Hirori (Sweden, Sabaya)

Festival Category Winners

  • Around the World in Nine Films: Children
  • Crime & Conspiracy: Down A Dark Stairwell
  • Fame! I’m Gonna Live Forever: The Rossellinis
  • Family/Whānau: Try Harder!
  • Fearless/Mātātoa: Laura’s Choice
  • The Future Beckons: The Wonderful: Stories From The Space Station
  • State of Mind: Aulcie

Doc Edge Superhero 2021: Heather Croall, Australia

Each year, Doc Edge recognises an outstanding contributor to documentary with its prestigious Superhero award. This year Doc Edge is proud to honour Heather Croall. Read full announcement here. Croall will present her latest film, Yer Old Faither, at SkyCity Theatre on Friday 4 June at 6pm. Watch trailer here.

Thanks to the trans-Tasman bubble, the directors of the harrowing but humorous

Laura’s Choice

will present their film at SkyCity Theatre, Saturday 5 June at 6.15pm. The director and producer of the George Martin biopic

Under The Volcano

will present their film at The Civic on Friday 11 June at 8.30pm. All three films will be followed by live Q+As.

To see the full programme and for more information on the 2021 festival, visit, and follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Doc Edge Festival in association with RNZ with support from Rei Foundation, Auckland Council, Department of Post, Foundation North, Heart of the City, Hula, MiNDFOOD, NZ Film Commission, NZ On Air, Phantom Billstickers, Pub Charity, Shift72, Soar, The Spinoff, Wellington Council and more.


Auckland SkyCity Theatre:

3 – 7 June

Auckland The Civic:

10 – 13 June

Wellington The Roxy:

17 – 27 June

Online Nationwide:

4 June – 11 July

© Scoop Media

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