Janet McAllister: Taking a bite of the Big Apple

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A still from the documentary Nazi Hunter, showing tomorrow at 11.30am. Photo / Supplied
A still from the documentary Nazi Hunter, showing tomorrow at 11.30am. Photo / Supplied

Sharks and Nazis - according to Ricky Gervais, these are the staples of non-fiction subscription TV. What about non-fiction film festivals? I've seen no sharks yet in the Documentary Edge Festival, but Nazis are in at least three films this last weekend of the festival in Auckland.

I haven't seen Hitler's Children (tomorrow, 3pm) about members of the Himmler, Goering and Hess families, but the publicity quote speaks of lifelong anguish and heartbreak: "I had myself sterilised so I would not pass on the blood of a monster," says the grand-niece of Herman Goering.

I have seen Nazi Hunter, however (tomorrow, 11.30am). About a police investigation into an alleged Nazi collaborator living on the North Shore in the early 1990s, it sounded promising. It unearths some little known history - but it's made-for-TV and it shows, in the spoonfeeding of cheesy low-lit dramatics and lack of context. Far more convincing that the events of World War II are still unhappily relevant today is A People Uncounted (today, 1.30pm).

In Austria alone about 90 per cent of the Roma and Sinti people - "gypsies" - perished in the Holocaust. Survivors are interviewed in this moving, resonant film, slowly and gently but surely. It is beautifully shot, but doesn't romanticise or stereotype a nomadic Roma life. Instead, most survivors are filmed at home, their relative comfort making their tales of starvation and torture all the more horrific.

In the non-Nazi section - aka the New York section - of my unintentionally skewed festival, NY in Motion is a missed opportunity, a film about motion graphics that uses little animation in its own production. But another film on NYC creativity - Deaf Jam - introduced me to an art form I'd never seen before: sign language poetry. Words are not important in this poetry; body movement is, and the results are interesting. I'll take Manhattan over sharks any day.

* All films are at Event Cinemas in Newmarket; docnz.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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