Streaming at home is second nature to many but there’s nothing quite like seeing a feature on the big screen. Doc Edge Festival is back, with more than 70 local and international films showing in Auckland and Wellington cinemas from now until July 9. (And if those cities aren’t handy for you, you can watch movies from the comfort of the couch on the Virtual Cinema.)

This year’s films are organised into seven categories, including Being Oneself (films that explore the “multifaceted nature of identity”), Crime & Conspiracy, Little Gems (short films) and Making an Impact (which show the power of humans to make a positive difference in the world).

Aside from the documentaries themselves, there are 22 virtual reality and augmented reality projects showing at Auckland Central Library and a pop-up space at 113 Taranaki Street in Wellington. The XR Exhibition has been curated to combine cutting-edge technology and storytelling.

Here are five standout films to see in this year’s program.

Deep Rising
This Sundance-selected doco probably won’t be a feel-good watch, but it’s an important and galvanising subject. Deep Rising provides a thorough explanation of the deep-sea mining business, following industry insiders and environmentalists who advocate against the practice for the harm it does to biodiversity and the environment. Although the deep-sea footage and visuals are stunning (with narration from Jason Momoa), the documentary is a foreboding insight into the devastating impact of deep-sea mining and the need to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.

All Static & Noise
In this world premiere, director David Novack presents several direct interviews with Uyghur and Kazakh people who’ve had their lives uprooted by China’s policies towards their cultures. The footage and illustrations that accompany the interviews are deeply affecting. Through so many stories it becomes easier to understand a problem that feels unimaginable from the outset.

Frances Hodgkins, Anything but a Still Life
Frances Hodgkins is celebrated as one of New Zealand’s most pioneering artists, a modernist painter who paved the way for women in the arts over her 56-year career between the late 1800s and 1940s. This is a lovely art-history foray, courtesy of director Massiet du Biest whose film covers Hogdkins’ life, work and travels, and includes interviews with present day experts and creatives who discuss her impact.

Apolonia, Apolonia
Filmed over 13 years, this intimate documentary won the top prize at Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival. It was directed by Lea Glob and follows painter Apolonia Sokol as she navigates life as an artist. As the film goes on, it becomes not only about Sokol and her existential struggle to live a bohemian, creative life in a capitalist and patriarchal society, but also about women with different destinies and the different ways art affects both those who make it and those who view it.

Love to Love You, Donna Summer
Co-directed by Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams and Donna Summer’s daughter, Brooklyn Sudano, Love to Love You, Donna Summer is a heartfelt look at the Hot Stuff and I Feel Love singer’s life and talent. The film explores the woman behind the glamour, with home movies, archival footage and narration from her daughters to communicate Summer’s complexity as she navigated fame, motherhood and the creative process.