As dementia continues to affect millions worldwide, this rousing and emotional documentary reveals a remarkably simple, music-based breakthrough and shows how it has already transformed lives.
German filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer travels Europe and Asia to assemble evidence in favour of less regimented and competitive notions of education than those prevailing throughout much of the world (including New Zealand).
This year’s Animation Now unleashes the unique properties of animation across a wide variety of techniques, bringing to life a diversity of sumptuous, often complex creative visions.
Exploring the 30-year ‘career’ of a gifted fine art forger, Art and Craft delves into one of the most intriguing cases of deception in art history and its ramifications for the unhappy curators who fell for the fakes.
A thoroughly absorbing documentary exploring multiple facets of America’s most famously progressive public university, while students and administrators negotiate the gathering threats to accessible tertiary education.
In New Zealand, writer Jean Watson is an anonymous elderly woman living in a modest Wellington flat. In southern India she is revered as the famous ‘Jean Aunty’. Gerard Smyth’s documentary explores her fascinating double life.
Jim Marbrook, director of Mental Notes and the original Dark Horse doco, takes us inside the long environmental campaign that followed the pollution of traditional Kanak fishing grounds in New Caledonia in 2008.
This charming Mexican film is both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny as the relationship between a holidaying 15-year-old boy and his loving mother is tested by the arrival on the scene of a girl his own age.
This powerful documentary draws on rarely seen interviews and action footage from African liberation struggles of the 60s and 70s to offer fresh insight into the nature and enduring legacy of colonialism.
A comic nightmare of three strange characters connected by unsolved crimes and the local newspaper, Christopher Sullivan’s animated slice of small-town Americana is as far from family-friendly as animated features come.
Samson & Delilah director Warwick Thornton invited Aboriginal people to share their experiences of the supernatural – and selected 13 of the most potent to be brought back to life by actors in this film.
When atrocities are committed in countries held hostage by ruthless dictators, Human Rights Watch sends in the E-Team, a collection of brave individuals who document war crimes and report them to the rest of the world.
Jake Gyllenhaal delivers two great performances in this compelling and creepy doppelgänger tale about a dishevelled university professor who spots his exact double performing in a movie, and tracks him down.
Magnificent and haunting, the official record of the legendary 1924 Everest expedition screens in a superb restoration. Filmed by Captain John Noel, who accompanied doomed mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.
For his first feature-length film the widely exhibited New Zealand photographer Gavin Hipkins invests a richly pictorial essay with the 21st-century resonance of Samuel Butler’s lively utopian satire Erewhon, written in 1872.
A handsome modernist London townhouse has the power and presence of a third character in this closely observed dramatic portrait of its owners, an artist couple on the brink of change.
A fascinating, spectacular and arrestingly intimate excursion into the heart of the Kumbh Mela, where millions of Hindu pilgrims converge every three years to purify themselves in the waters of a sacred river.
Winner of the Best Documentary award at IDFA, director Alan Berliner’s film about his lifelong friend and mentor, the distinguished poet and translator Edwin Honig, becomes a profound study in identity and memory.
Mahi Va Gorbeh
Boldly inventive and intricately choreographed, this Iranian one-shot wonder weaves an enigmatic time-warp narrative around a group of characters who have congregated at a lakeside camp.
Das grosse Museum
This wryly observed, visually sumptuous documentary takes us behind the scenes at Vienna’s Art History Museum while staff prepare an ambitious renovation, reinstallation and rebranding of its palatial Kunstkammer galleries.
Checking in with a generation of British kids who never knew life before social media, Beeban Kidron asks the rest of us to consider why anyone should worry about their being so totally plugged in.
Nicolas Cage offers a strikingly well-rounded picture of a good-hearted tough guy facing down his demons in David Gordon Green’s tale of friendship and menace set deep in the Mississippi backwoods.
Inspired by an urban legend that was itself inspired by the Coen brothers’ Fargo, filmmaking brothers David and Nathan Zellner have crafted a quixotic adventure story as beguiling as it is wondrously strange.
Le dernier des injustes
The Nazi-appointed Jewish leader who collaborated with the Germans and survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp defends his actions with compelling verve in Claude Lanzmann’s gripping new film, built around a 1975 interview.
Ben Whishaw brings moving sensitivity to this lyrical tale of a young gay man tragically bereft of the love of his life and craving reconciliation with his lover’s old-school Chinese-Cambodian mother.
Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados
Inspired by actual events in 1966, this buoyant and funny road movie about an English-language teacher determined to meet John Lennon won all the major Spanish film awards this year.
Tom Hardy mesmerises as a man dealing with crisis on all fronts, making and taking frantic phone calls as he steers his BMW through the night. Steven Knight’s breathless feat of real-time drama is set entirely inside the car.
“A quiet, moving portrait of Jane Bown, the longstanding Observer photographer who has taken all those iconic portraits you know, but probably didn’t know she’d taken.” — Deborah Ross, The Spectactor
In this hypnotic observational documentary from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, a fixed camera captures diverse travellers – from devout pilgrims to media-savvy metalheads – riding the gondola to and from a Hindu temple in Nepal.
Frederick Wiseman, the grand old man of observational documentary, explores London’s National Gallery, looking in on backroom activities but more interested in examining the enduring power of the paintings themselves.
Nosotros los Nobles
A self-made mogul tricks his three spoiled-rotten kids into believing they are paupers. Mexico’s biggest box-office hit of all time made millions by taking satirical aim at the idle rich.
Renowned critics of Israeli policies – Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Sara Roy and Robert Fisk – provide personal substance and historical perspective to their arguments in this impressive film by New Zealander Sarah Cordery.
As richly peopled as a Steinbeck novel, Jesse Moss’ doco about the impact of the oil boom on a small North Dakota town follows the controversial campaign of a local priest to support the influx of homeless job-seekers.
This documentary of novelist, critic and public intellectual Susan Sontag is rich with insight and biographical details about the defining impact on her life and work of key relationships with several highly accomplished women.
In her bold, biting and unnervingly entertaining film recounting schoolyard misery, Swedish artist Anna Odell shows exactly why her high school class chose not to invite her to their 20th anniversary reunion.
This elegantly shot and crafted Italian documentary takes us into the lives of a handful of intriguing individuals who live and work around Rome’s ring road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare.
Saturday Night Live veterans Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are brilliant as long-estranged twins who reunite in a crisis in this warm, often outrageously funny dramedy of late-30-something angst. Also starring Luke Wilson.
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Sol LeWitt refused to become an art personality. This doco honours his wish, exploring the conceptual basis of his work and celebrating its spectacular realisation.
This beautiful new film from the director of Tatarakihi honours the longstanding struggle of Whanganui iwi to reclaim guardianship over their ancestral river.
In this remarkably rewarding documentary we meet a feisty community group in Port Kembla, NSW that sets out to bypass the corporate drivers of the funeral industry and set up their own non-profit funeral business.
Many roads lead to the Hokianga in this engaging documentary portrait of several generations of inhabitants: local iwi, long-established farming families, and the alternative lifestylers of the 60s and 70s who put down roots and stayed.
Paul Wolffram’s fascinating and eloquent doco about Māori instrumental traditions accompanies Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo as they perform in a series of remarkable South Island wilderness settings.
This rewarding documentary explores the work of the man who, in 1944, coined the word ‘genocide’, as well as four modern day activists who continue his crusade to establish international procedures to end such horrors.
The director of The Bad Lieutenant teams up with the fearless Gerard Dépardieu for the best, most inflammatory film either has made in years, a lurid tale of excess and obsession inspired by the downfall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.