The legend of Nick Cave is explored and amplified in this seductive, music-filled documentary created in collaboration with British filmmaker/artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. “Thrilling to behold.” — Time Out
A delicate and frequently touching debut drama, Australian director Sophie Hyde’s film, shot over a year of Tuesdays, traces a teenage girl’s explorations of her own sexual identity while her mother undergoes gender transition.
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.
NZIFF recommends this programme for children aged 7–10 years (and up).
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.
Investigative filmmaker Alex Gibney (Enron, We Steal Secrets) incorporates amazing all-access footage of the 2009 Tour de France into a comprehensive interrogation of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and the world he dominated.
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.
‘Baba-dook-dook-dook’ joins ‘Candyman’ and ‘Bloody Mary’ as words too terrifying to say, but too tempting not to, thanks to Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s startling and thought-provoking horror house thriller.
Die geliebten Schwestern
Beautifully acted, exquisitely mounted and fascinatingly evocative of its social setting, Beloved Sisters dramatises the shifting ménage-à-trois of the 18th-century poet Friedrich Schiller and the two sisters who shared his life.
Richard Linklater’s enthralling and moving drama of a boy’s progress from childhood to young manhood is truly unprecedented: it was shot over 12 years, capturing its star and his fellow cast as they themselves grew and changed.
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.
Aussie maverick Rolf de Heer’s latest collaboration with the great Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil, after the folkloric Ten Canoes and historical The Tracker, is a moving picture of present-day life in Australia’s far north.
This fascinating and entertaining documentary takes us behind the scenes at the House of Dior as incoming designer Raf Simons conceives his first collection, and Dior’s highly skilled ateliers bring it to life.
This expert adaptation of a hit stage play imagines the negotiation between the German governor tasked by Hitler to destroy Paris and the Swedish counsel credited with persuading him not to.
A faceless bureaucrat (Jesse Eisenberg) and his suave doppelgänger (Jesse Eisenberg) compete for Mia Wasikowska’s attention in Richard Ayoade’s stylish, retro-future take on Dostoevsky.
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.
A 50-something businessman gets more than he bargained for when he invites a young street hustler back to his apartment. Loaded with sexual tension, this superbly directed thriller never goes where you expect.
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 man, a woman and a four-year-old boy retreat to a house outside town. What are they hiding from? Debut writer/director Max Currie staggers its revelations to dramatic effect in this suspenseful psychological drama.
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.
Isabelle Huppert is touching and funny as a farmer’s wife who takes off to Paris on a whim in this poignant comedy of 50-something upheaval – and romance in unexpected places.
Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Cannes sensation combines black comedy, social satire and probing psycho-drama as a model family comes apart on a skiing holiday in the French Alps.
Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhall play fiercely avant-garde musicians in this weirdly celebratory satire of an obscure art rock band propelled via Twitter into the limelight.
A flamboyant Viennese baroness and her two lovers bring mystery and murder to a lonely Pacific paradise in this lavishly archived, stranger-than-fiction documentary whodunit.
This long-awaited, massively crowd-funded pop musical – written, composed and directed by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch – stars a radiant Emily Browning as an up-and-coming Glasgow singer.
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.
The incredible story of Mosab Hassan Yousef – the son of one of the founders of Hamas who became an informant for the Israeli secret service – is staged almost like an espionage thriller in this taut Sundance-winning doco.
In the years since New Zealand politicians began to grapple with climate change our greenhouse gas emissions have burgeoned. Alister Barry’s doco draws on TV archives and interviews with key participants to find out why.
Welcome home to the Kiwi horror house comedy that took SXSW by storm. Gerard Johnstone’s brilliant genre mash-up stars Rima Te Wiata, Morgana O’Reilly, Glen-Paul Waru and Cameron Rhodes.
Il capitale umano
Two of Italy’s leading actresses, Valeria Golino and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, star in a stylish whodunit based on Stephen Amidon’s best-selling book of the same name, expertly intertwining love, class and ambition.
Norwegian noir with mordant gallows humour, this bloody tale of snowballing revenge reunites actor Stellan Skarsgård with director Hans Petter Moland ( Zero Kelvin, A Somewhat Gentle Man).
Dans la cour
Two anxious old souls – one of them not so old in years – find friendship in this funny and touching tale of Paris tenement life starring Catherine Deneuve and Gustave Kervern.
This lucid, punchy doco tells the story of Aaron Swartz, the tech genius who eschewed the rewards of Silicon Valley to become a net freedom activist and found himself targeted by the FBI.
Long a mainstay of Christchurch’s underground music scene, Into the Void are ready for their close-up in this lively and eccentric film which documents two plus decades of heavy rocking, hard drinking and artistic endeavour.
Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mood Indigo) and philosopher-activist Noam Chomsky talk about life and language in a conversation gorgeously illuminated with Gondry’s hand-drawn animations.
“With its marvellously suggestive title and thought-provoking exploration of sex, this indie chiller is a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true.” — Tim Robey, The Telegraph
This provocative portrait of Jimi Hendrix as a fledgling rock legend features Outkast’s André Benjamin as the supremely gifted young guitarist in Swinging London. Directed by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley.
The latest from veteran British social realist Ken Loach is a rousing, romantic retelling of the story of Irish folk hero James Gralton and his battle with the Catholic Church to run a popular dance hall and community centre.
A riotous look behind the scenes of the greatest movie never made: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s proposed super-production of Frank Herbert’s cult sci-fi novel Dune, which was to star Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger.
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.
Yume to kyôki no ohkoku
This genial, illuminating and delightfully observant documentary takes us behind the scenes at the great Japanese animation studio over the year that Miyazaki was completing The Wind Rises and Takahata Princess Kaguya.
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.
Two 70-something buddies take a trip to Iceland in this surprisingly funny road movie. If Iceland’s not already on your bucket list, it will be now – possibly even with these two comedians in tow.
Direct from Competition in Cannes, the new film from the Russian director of The Return is an involving, magnificently envisaged and blackly funny tale of one man’s struggle in a densely corrupt world.
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
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are magnificent in Ira Sachs’ topical, moving and beautifully tender portrait of an ageing gay couple whose decision to marry after 39 years has complicated consequences.
Classic movie romance beautifully transposed to the rhythms and flavours of modern-day Mumbai. Hearts are kindled when a lunchbox, designed to delight the cook’s husband, is accidentally delivered to a more appreciative stranger.
David Cronenberg’s gleefully toxic satire of Hollywood vanities stars Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, startling newcomer Evan Bird channelling Justin Beiber; and, in her Cannes-winning role, Julianne Moore.
A reluctant and seriously inept drug-runner finds himself in police custody with a belly full of heroin in this ingeniously gut-wrenching comedy of suspense set in the Melbourne crime-world of the 80s.
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.
For our third New Zealand’s Best short film competition Festival programmers Bill Gosden and Michael McDonnell viewed 115 submissions to make a shortlist of 12 from which filmmaker Andrew Adamson selected these six finalists.
Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning are eco-activists in Kelly Reichardt’s skillful political thriller set in a world of shifting loyalties and tensely debated ethics.
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.
“This documentary accessibly conveys the science and the human drama behind the largest machine ever built – the Large Hadron Collider – and its crowning achievement, the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.” — Scientific American
Sakasama no Patema
In this charming and ingeniously elaborate anime world one tribe’s gravity is another tribe’s anti-gravity. A plucky upside-down girl and a gallant right-way-up boy switch perspectives.
“A technology that promises (some would say threatens) to permanently transform our lives gets compelling behind-the-scenes treatment in this skillful overview of the major players in the 3D printing industry.” — Justin Chang, Variety
NZer Florian Habicht’s acclaimed collaboration with Jarvis Cocker fixes the triumphant 2012 concert billed as Pulp’s last ever within a loving portrait of Sheffield and Sheffielders.
An inspiring close-up encounter with feminist punk rock legend Kathleen Hanna. Frontwoman for Bikini Kill throughout the 90s, then the hugely popular dance group Le Tigre, she’s a powerful presence onstage and off.
The turbulent love story of American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. “An empowering portrait of two highly gifted women who defy social convention.” – Hollywood Reporter
Two unlikely travelling companions traverse the existential badlands of the Australian outback in Animal Kingdom director David Michôd’s intense and atmospheric picture of the lucky country gone feral.
Le sel de la terre
The life and work of Sebastião Salgado, the undisputed master of monumental photojournalism, is explored in this wonderful doco, jointly directed by his son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, and German director Wim Wenders.
Sepideh – Drømmen om stjernerne
In a provincial town in Iran, young Sepideh dreams of becoming an astronomer, although almost no one she knows thinks this a fit pursuit for a young woman. Filmed over several years, this doco traces her surprising progress.
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.
Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho’s much anticipated sci-fi epic, his first English language production, finally hits NZ screens in his original director’s cut. Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Song Kang-ho.
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.
Actor Eddie Marsan is the steady, purposeful centre of this poignant, slightly stylised drama about a council worker whose job – locating the relatives of the unclaimed dead – is his strongest connection to the living.
Kaguya-hime no monogatari
Hot on the heels of Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises comes another animated masterpiece. Studio Ghibli co-founder Takahata’s rich and astonishing swansong vividly brings an ancient Japanese folktale to life.
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.
NZIFF recommends this programme for children aged 3–6
Deux jours, une nuit
This tense and affecting drama from two-time Palme d’Or winners the Dardenne brothers depicts the weekend-long crusade of a working-class woman to be reinstated in her job. Marion Cotillard is riveting in the central role.
Scarlett Johansson is an alien creature in human guise cruising Glasgow on a mysterious mission to lure young men. Jonathan Glazer’s eerie spellbinder amalgamates chilling fantasy with covertly filmed reality.
La Vénus à la fourrure
In Roman Polanski’s film of the stage hit, Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner are terrific as director and auditioning actress acting out Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s classic text of dominance and submission.
Emmanuelle Devos is hypnotic as Violette Leduc, the French writer whose fearless memoirs, championed by Simone de Beauvoir, broke new boundaries for women in literature. From the director of Séraphine.
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.
Vi är bäst!
Swedish director Lukas Moodysson returns to the subversive high spirits of his earlier Show Me Love, adapting his wife’s graphic novel of 80s schoolgirl misfit friendship – and no-talent punkette attitude.
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.
Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s audacious drama, about how a young girl’s separation from her dog leads to a full-blown canine uprising, won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
A surprise Cannes sensation from Argentina, Wild Tales is a compendium of six lavishly produced shorts united by a theme of vengeance – the kind that explodes in spectacular outbursts, sometimes planned, sometimes not!
Jane Campion’s jury awarded the Palme d’Or for Best Film at Cannes this year to this provocative and engrossing study of unwitting male pride and its fallout by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
This intimate portrait of a marvellously idiosyncratic family of beekeepers in the Italian countryside is a classic picture of children growing up in nature – and won its young director the Grand Prix at Cannes.
L’extravagant voyage du jeune et prodigieux T.S. Spivet
The director of Amelie and Delicatessen takes to 3D and delights with his abundant visual wit in this tale of a ten-year-old boy genius’s attempts to understand his weird family and the even weirder wider world.
Comédie Française actor Pierre Niney (It Boy) is sensational in this surprisingly frank ‘authorised’ biopic of the fashion designer who took over from Christian Dior at 21 and eventually established his own enduring brand.