This year's Doc Edge festival is scary and exciting

The AM Show's Aziz Al-Sa'afin cuddled up with his dog to watch some Doc Edge Festival films from home.
The AM Show's Aziz Al-Sa'afin cuddled up with his dog to watch some Doc Edge Festival films from home.

There’s something that both excites and scares me about the Doc Edge Festival.

It’s actually the same thing that does both, and that is being challenged on my own thoughts and ideas. But there’s nothing quite like walking out of a theatre having your mind completely changed from when you once walked in.

This year was no different. Well maybe, it was a little different.

Like many events around the world, this year’s Doc Edge Festival had to changed and adapt because of COVID. For a while none of us really knew if life would go back to normal, or even what that ‘normal’ would look like.

But thanks to Chorus, the Doc Edge’s new ‘normal’ was actually quite cool. See for the first time in its history, the Doc Edge Film Festival was at everyone’s doorstep, literally.

Lounges were transformed into theatres, and laptops and TV’s became the big screens. 83 of the world’s best true stories beamed directly into the comfort of everyone’s own homes - being dressed in pyjama’s never felt so good.

And there were so many films to choose from - my dog Yoko even got to sit in the audience.

#UNFIT for example was one of them. It was recorded pre-pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests and served as an incredibly timely and damning expose of Donald Trump, as told by his own republican ally’s and health officials.

The Prophet and the Space Aliens is the weirdest and yet most intriguing story I have come across, and centres on Claude Vorilhon, a man who claims he was taken by aliens in 1973, and has now come back as the world’s new messiah.

The most intriguing part of the festival by far though was the at-home after-film Q&A sessions with producers and directors of the films after their screenings.

For these selected films, a zoom session between the festival director and film producer and directors would be setup, just like what would happen after films traditionally. Viewers were able to ask their own questions about the films and have them answered directly and instantly.

Particularly Angels on Diamond Street, which centres on a church run soup kitchen in Philadelphia, was a film that really struck a cord with me, and I was able to put my own thoughts and ideas to the filmmakers themselves.

Shot over two years the film exposes the crushing poverty, drug addiction, gun violence and police harassment that are a part of daily life of people there. It’s set in a black and multi-racial community that runs a soup kitchen in Philadelphia.

Both director Petr Lom and producer Corinne Van Egeraat gave a talk after this, explaining their reasons behind the film and its emerging themes.

The film was was beautiful, humbling, and centred around a simple idea that “everyone is welcome at the table.” Lom spoke to us about how we all come from different walks of life, different races, different experiences, but we are all welcome, and we are all part of the solution. I said to him during the Q&A it was quite a timely notion, and asked him what he thought about what was happening now. He said it was no different from what was happening before, other than the fact it’s now caught on camera.

It was a cool experience to be able to converse after the film to the makers from the comfort of my own home. The world has most certainly changed, but just like this festival, and thanks to Chorus, we have changed, grown, and adapted too.

I go to the Doc Edge Festival every year, and I suppose this year wasn’t any different. Well, maybe just a little.

The Doc Edge Festival is on until 5 July 2020, tickets are available on Eventfinda.

This article was created for Chorus