Documentary Edge International Film Festival – Music Docos Reviewed!

The Documentary Edge Film Festival is Australasia’s premiere international documentary film Festival. This year’s festival begins on Thursday, May 30th and runs through Sunday, June 23rd in Auckland and Wellington.

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda has had a look at three of the music-related docos on offer. Here are his reviews:

The Eulogy

Dir: Janine Hosking

The most unlikely of the three music films turns out to be the best.

The Eulogy is indeed based on a eulogy, a scathing, controversial one delivered by Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating following the death of concert pianist Geoffrey Tozer.

Keating recreates his speech for the film which attacked the Australian musical establishment for the way he perceived that they mistreated Tozer, an extremely gifted musician who died under very tragic circumstances at age 54.

Conductor and music educator Richard Gill acts as our host as he proceeds to explore what went wrong in the life of such a promising artist, one who began his career as an 8-year-old prodigy who won multiple awards and scholarships and eventually performed in front of over 80 million people.

For someone like me, who was unaware of Tozer, this film was a real eye opener, both in terms of learning about such a great talent and in how his life spiraled out of control.

Gill visits the Estate of Geoffrey Tozer…a humble backyard shed containing photos, drawings, letters and diaries of the late musician. He also explores Tozer’s relationship with his mother along with his battles with the Australian music establishment, his sexuality and his addictions.

This is a story that could rival fellow Aussie musicians AC/DC for sex, drugs and debauchery.

As such it is an illuminating and fascinating portrait of a tragic and misunderstood musical genius.


The Men’s Room

Dir: Petter Sommer & Jo Vemund Svendsen

A group of middle-aged men convene at a pub every week to drink and sing together.  Based in Norwegian city of Oslo, this somewhat ramshackle choir sings unlikely tunes such as Denis Leary’s Asshole and Frank Zappa’s Why Does It Hurt When I Pee.

Their reputation is such that they have landed a gig at a rock festival, opening for Black Sabbath.

All is fun and games until its learned that the choir’s conductor has been diagnosed with cancer and has just a few months to live. The question is, will he make it to the Sabbath show?

Yes, the premise does sound familiar to anyone who saw the 2007 film, Young@Heart, about the British senior citizens who formed a choir and sang punk tunes.

But, let’s face it, when there are real lives on the line, the viewing is going to be emotionally intense, and The Men’s Room certainly is.

If you get through this one without wiping at least one tear from your eye, you may need to check your own pulse.


Kate Nash: Underestimate The Girl

Dir: Amy Goldstein

This one is the more traditional music doco of the bunch.

Kate Nash burst on the British music scene in 2007, making the leap from MySpace phenomenon to major label chart topper, winning a BRIT Award for Best Female Artist in 2008.

But her time at the top was to be brief as she turned her back on pop music and defiantly proceeded to make more challenging DIY-style punk. Her label promptly dumped her and she moved to California to re-start her career.

Director Amy Goldstein features plenty of backstage footage from all points in Nash’s career…let’s face it, these days everyone has oodles of footage of everything.

The once-defiant Nash learns a hard lesson when she finds that no one in the music industry is that interested in her new musical direction.

To add insult to injury, her trusted manager, “Gary”, betrays her trust and lawsuits ensue.

For me, the most interesting part of the film showed Nash in a California studio literally selling out…that is altering her music, specifically her vocal delivery, in order to appease a potential record label.

The tale does have a happy ending as Kate scores a gig as an actor on the Netflix series GLOW as a pro wrestler.

The film itself is well done, but not essential viewing.

Click here for tickets and schedules for the 2019 Documentary Edge Film Festival.

30 May – 9 June 2019, Doc Edge Festival: Auckland – Q Theatre, Ellen Melville Centre and Auckland Art Gallery
13 – 23 June 2019, Doc Edge Festival: Wellington – Roxy Cinema, Te Auaha, Light House Cuba