Alex Lee


NameAlex Lee (he/him)
Country of BirthMalaysia
Place of ResidenceTāmaki Makaurau Auckland
EthnicitiesMalaysian Chinese, Indonesian Dutch (Indo)
ArtformScreen, Theatre
Decades Active2000s, 2010s, 2020s


Alex Lee is a screen industry mentor and advocate, a film and television producer, and the director and co-founder of Doc Edge, the national documentary organisation of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Of Malaysian Chinese and Indonesian Dutch descent, Lee left his home country of Malaysia at the age of 17 to study in Aotearoa. These formative adult years, which saw him become the first non-Pākehā President of the New Zealand University Students Association, informed his subsequent advocacy work for non-profit organisations, ethnic communities and industry groups, as well as his ongoing leadership in the arts and culture sector.

On the challenges he faced as President, Lee recalled in an Edmund Hillary Fellowship interview that the experience “reinforced in me that it is possible for someone who is ethnically different to rise to the top and to lead the entire spectrum of diversity within the student population.” This perspective has shaped the kaupapa of Doc Edge, which was founded in 2005, towards education and social impact. “I have become incredibly passionate about how the magic of storytelling can bring about the power of knowledge and change,” says Lee.

Alongside executive director and co-founder Dan Shanan, Lee has built Doc Edge into a vital platform for non-fiction storytelling, with year-round industry and educational programmes surrounding an annual film festival — the only one in the South Pacific region to offer a pathway to Oscar qualification for documentary filmmakers. In 2023, Doc Edge received funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s Creative and Cultural Events Incubator, through which Lee aims to position the festival as a centre of documentary excellence in the Asia Pacific region within three years. In 2024, Doc Edge will relaunch as Life Unscripted, a reimagined festival designed to elevate Doc Edge to 'Major Event' status.

Lee’s love of storytelling has seen him hold various screen industry roles, including chair of Film Auckland Inc. head of the School of Performing & Screen Arts at UNITEC, and filmmaker, producing documentaries of his own, most notably Hip Hop-eration, which won Best Documentary at the 2014 New Zealand Film Awards. He is also co-founder of the Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts, a champion of the Asia screen sector through the Asia Film Festival Aotearoa and the Asia New Zealand Film Foundation, and has directed theatre, including a short version of Mei-Lin Te Puea Hansen’s The Mooncake and The Kūmara when it was still in development in 2009.

Lee is currently supporting the development of a number of documentaries, including Interference (director, Welby Ings), Where Was It Said You Should Be Happy (director, Thomas Burstyn), and I Thought Jesus Was Korean? (director, Elina Osborne) and Memory | Longing (director, Kim Webby). He is also supporting Queer As Punk (director, Yihwen Chen, in post-production). In 2024, he will co-produce the second season of Korban (Sacrifice), an Aotearoa-Singapore co-production centred on a Singaporean sous-chef and her Māori fiancé.

Beyond the screen, Lee is a practising media and commercial lawyer. He is a past president of the Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association and a past chairman of the Thailand New Zealand Business Council. He was also a board member of the New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment Inc. and the Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand (now Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand) and supported the New Zealand Film Commission in its internationalisation of Aotearoa and China’s screen relationship.


Key works / presentations

As producer/executive producer:

2014 — Hip Hop-eration (also co-director)
2012 — The Education of Ming Ming (short film)
2011 — The Song of the Hunted
Love and Luksaah (short film)
2007 — The Last Magic Show

As writer and director:

2005 — Wong Cha Cha (short film)

As director:

2012 — Imperfectly Frank (short play), Short+Sweet Theatre, Herald Theatre, Tāmaki Makaurau
2009 — Midnight, State Highway 01 (short play), Asian Tales™: Native Alienz, Herald Theatre, Tāmaki Makaurau
2009 — The Mooncake and The Kumara (short play), Asian Tales™: Native Alienz, Herald Theatre, Tāmaki Makaurau

Key awards

2018 — Edmund Hillary Fellow

2016 — FIFO Oceanian International Documentary Film Festival:Audience Award

2015 — Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award (Hip Hop-eration)

2014 — Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards: Best Documentary (Hip Hop-eration)

Honorary Life Member, Film Auckland Inc

Last updated: 2 March 2024 Suggest an Edit