Films by Title

#

The 5th Eye

Errol Wright, Abi King-Jones

This densely packed doco from the directors of Operation 8 questions the price of New Zealand’s involvement in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, and relates the improbable tale of its 2008 sabotage by the Waihopai Three.

A

After the Storm

Umi yori mo mada fukaku

Kore-eda Hirokazu

A formerly successful novelist tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and young son in this affectionate, shrewdly observed drama of family life from Japan’s unassuming master, Kore-eda Hirokazu (Our Little Sister).

All These Sleepless Nights

Michał Marczak

Party on. Millennial searchers drink, drug, dance and love night after long summer night in this seductive blurring of documentary and fiction shot in the outdoor bars, dance clubs and house parties of Warsaw.

Animation Now 2016

A celebratory showcase of some of the year’s brightest and best animated shorts. If you’re looking to sample the animation ecosystem in all of its multi-coloured, variously shaped glories, there’s no better place to begin.

Another Country

Molly Reynolds

Australian Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil (Charlie’s Country) returns to his Arnhem Land hometown with filmmaker Molly Reynolds to explain ‘what happened to my culture when it was interrupted by your culture’.

Ants on a Shrimp: Noma in Tokyo

Maurice Dekkers

Copenhagen-based Noma and celebrated chef-owner René Redzepi relocate the restaurant and its entire staff to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo for five sold-out weeks of spectacular lunches and dinners with specially created menus.

The Apostate

El apóstata

Federico Veiroj

A wry character study of a bored young Spaniard galvanised into action by the bureaucratic conundrums that confront him when he tries to have his baptism annulled from the records of the Catholic Church.

Apple Pie

Sam Hamilton

Artist Sam Hamilton speculates on the unique and relational aspects of our solar system’s major celestial bodies and their cultural, scientific and existential meaning for us in this dense experimental film.

Aquarius

Kleber Mendonça Filho

Brazilian actress Sonia Braga has the role of her life in this engrossing and richly surprising portrait of a fiercely intelligent and independent woman fighting to save the apartment she loves from demolition.

Argentina

Zonda: folclore argentino

Carlos Saura

Carlos Saura, the Spanish director of such classics as Flamenco, Tango and Blood Wedding, mounts a dazzling showcase for the leading contemporary performers of traditional Argentinian music and dance.

As I Open My Eyes

À peine j’ouvre les yeux

Leyla Bouzid

Tradition butts up against progress in Leyla Bouzid’s debut, a musically charged French-Tunisian film that follows a young woman in a band as she navigates familial and cultural strictures on the eve of the Jasmine Revolution.

Author: The JT LeRoy Story

Jeff Feuerzeig

Revisiting an infamous literary scandal of the last decade, Jeff Feuerzeig’s documentary re-examines the many lives of Laura Albert, who was exposed as the true author of sensational bestsellers by teenage prodigy JT LeRoy.

B

Bacon & God’s Wrath

Sol Friedman

A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on a lifetime of experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time. Screening with Obit.

Being 17

Quand on a 17 ans

André Téchiné

An attentive mother (Sandrine Kiberlain) intervenes unwittingly in her son’s passionate feud with another boy in this intimate, engrossing and original coming-of-age drama set in the spectacular Pyrenees.

Beware the Slenderman

Irene Taylor Brodsky

An alarming look at the power of the internet: a meme inspires two girls to murder their friend. This doco explores the real-life horrors of the digital age.

Bleak Street

La calle de la amargura

Arturo Ripstein

“Veteran auteur and master of the Mexican bizarre, Arturo Ripstein – an influence on a generation of his country’s directors – plunges us into a Mexico City of crime, prostitution and luchador wrestling.” — Film Forum

Burden

Timothy Marrinan, Richard Dewey

The late performance artist Chris Burden was first known for confronting works involving extreme physical peril, but his later installations are almost universally adored. This compelling new film charts his journey.

C

Cameraperson

Kirsten Johnson

Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson assembles excerpts and offcuts from her remarkable career (to date) to evoke an assortment of uneasily resolved questions about ethics and compassion in documentary film.

Captain Fantastic

Matt Ross

Renaissance man Viggo Mortensen steals the show as a solo father whose idealistic way of raising his six children off the grid comes under attack in this energetic, comedic drama.

Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt

Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart are beautifully attuned to Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt’s intimately observed, interwoven tales of three independent women in contemporary small town Montana.

Chasing Asylum

Eva Orner

Defying the media bans inside the camps, this combination of whistle-blower testimony and illegal footage leaves no doubt about the cruel reality of Australia’s off-shore refugee detention centres.

Chevalier

Athina Rachel Tsangari

Six gentlemen of leisure sail the Aegean in a gleaming yacht and compete to determine which of them is ‘The Best in General’ in this bone-dry take on contemporary manhood, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg).

Chimes at Midnight

Orson Welles

Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles’ 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece lives anew. Welles gives a mammoth performance as the Bard’s tragic fool Falstaff, along with John Gielgud as Henry IV and Keith Baxter as Hal.

Chronesthesia

Hayden J. Weal

This inventive romcom starring writer/director Hayden J. Weal and featuring Julian Dennison and Michelle Ny, reminds us that there’s no more romantic place to fall in love than Wellington – in the summer. World Premiere.

The Clan

El Clan

Pablo Trapero

Delivered with muscularity and verve, Pablo Trapero’s 80s true crime drama unravels the exploits of a well-connected Buenos Aires businessman and his rugby-star son and their ruthless kidnapping and ransom operation.

The Country Doctor

Médecin de campagne

Thomas Lilti

French box-office star François Cluzet (The Intouchables) is a doctor reluctantly introducing a younger female trainee to his country practice in this touching and funny drama from doctor-turned-director Thomas Lilti.

D

The Dancer

La danseuse

Stéphanie Di Giusto

French singer Soko and Lily-Rose Depp star in this exquisitely dressed, spectacularly danced drama inspired by the true story of two rival pioneers of modern dance in late 19th-century Paris.

The Daughter

Simon Stone

The most lauded Australian drama of the last year, this bold, superbly acted debut from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone reimagines Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in a contemporary small town.

The Death of Louis XIV

La mort de Louis XIV

Albert Serra

A master of minimalist portraits of historical figures, Albert Serra (Story of My Death, NZIFF14) directs French New Wave doyen Jean-Pierre Léaud as Louis XIV during the last days of his 72-year reign as the king of France.

Doglegs

Heath Cozens

Guest expat Kiwi filmmaker Heath Cozens presents his provocative documentary about members of a Tokyo fight club where the disabled enter the ring to battle each other and the able-bodied.

Dolfun

Sebastián Silva

Filmmaker Sebastián Silva (The Maid) travels to Miami to fulfill his lifelong dream of swimming with a dolphin. Screening with Wild.

Don’t Call Me Son

Mãe só há uma

Anna Muylaert

A 17-year-old boy is transplanted from the poor neighbourhood that nurtured him to the home of his well-to-do birth parents in this potent Brazilian drama of family and sexual identity from the director of The Second Mother.

A Dragon Arrives!

Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad!

Mani Haghighi

Invigorating trademark interplay between truth and fiction with uncommon cinematic bravado, this highly original political mystery, told from multiple perspectives and time periods, is unlike any other Iranian film in existence.

The Dragon’s Scale

James Cunningham

This homegrown fantasy spectacular features a father and son on a perilous quest to steal a magical wish-granting scale from a fierce dragon. Screening with Captain Fantastic.

E

The Eagle Huntress

Otto Bell

A 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl breaks a gender barrier to follow her father and train hunting eagles in this spectacular and entertaining documentary.

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words

Thorsten Schütte

Director Thorsten Schütte’s doco splices together performance and interview footage of the ever-articulate rock star (and talk-show guest) Frank Zappa to recount the story of his defiantly non-conformist musical journey.

Elle

Paul Verhoeven

Genre subversive Paul Verhoeven, director of Basic Instinct and Black Book, teams up with the great Isabelle Huppert to craft this provocative, blackly comic thriller.

Embrace

Taryn Brumfitt

“Body confidence does not come from trying to achieve ‘the perfect body’. It comes from embracing the one you’ve already got.” Australian body image activist Taryn Brumfitt exemplifies her message in this lively doco.

Endless Poetry

Poesía sin fin

Alejandro Jodorowsky

A glorious feast for the senses, the latest film from Chilean octogenarian and life-long maverick Alejandro Jodorowsky revisits his coming of age as an aspiring young poet in the bohemian Santiago of the 40s and 50s.

Equity

Meera Menon

Written, produced and directed by women and with women in all the key roles, this smart and entertaining film about an ambitious investment banker (Anna Gunn) puts a feminist twist on the Wall Street thriller.

The Event

Sobytie

Sergei Loznitsa

Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa follows his monumental documentary Maïdan with this found-footage epic vividly recalling popular optimism at the failed coup of August 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater follows Boyhood by recalling his own first days at college in this hilarious, deeply relaxed comedy about male bonding, set in the bars, discos, parties and frat houses of 1980 Austin.

F

Family Film

Rodinný film

Olmo Omerzu

The modern well-to-do Czech family is skewered in director Olmo Omerzu’s mordant drama of free-wheeling parents, unfettered teenagers, and their faithful, long-suffering border collie.

Fatima

Philippe Faucon

Winner of the 2016 César for Best Film, Fatima is a beautifully nuanced portrait of an immigrant single mother giving everything to better the lives of her two very different teenage daughters.

Figure

Katarzyna Gondek

Meet the world’s largest sacred miniature park resident. Screening with Francofonia.

Fire at Sea

Fuocoammare

Gianfranco Rosi

Gianfranco Rosi’s doco captures traditional life on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa alongside the compassionate, high-tech response to the boatloads of refugees finding landfall there. Best Film, Berlin Film Festival 2016.

The First Monday in May

Andrew Rossi

Behind the scenes at the New York Met’s sumptuous 2015 Costume Institute show ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ and its Anna Wintour-spearheaded opening ball, the celebrity packed Met Gala.

The First, the Last

Les premiers, les derniers

Bouli Lanners

Two bounty hunters searching the flatlands of Western Europe for a stolen cellphone cross paths with two lovers on the run from the end of the world in this deadpan delight from Belgian actor/director Bouli Lanners.

A Flickering Truth

Pietra Brettkelly

New Zealand filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly’s moving portrayal of one man’s journey to restore thousands of hours of film heritage in post-Taliban Afghanistan, a journey that uncovers the very nearly forgotten history of his ravaged country.

Francofonia

Alexander Sokurov

The director of Russian Ark turns his attention to the Louvre in this hauntingly illustrated tribute to the great art museum and its preservation of cultural heritage through the rise and fall of empires.

Free in Deed

Jake Mahaffy

The power of faith to heal – and hurt – is dramatised with bruising compassion in Jake Mahaffy’s Venice-prizewinning tale set within a Memphis storefront church congregation.

Free to Run

Pierre Morath

Rich with clips and lively interviews, this doco traces the running movement over the past 50 years – the struggle for the right to run, especially for women, then the explosion of grassroots road races and marathons.

G

Gimme Danger

Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch pays tribute to seminal proto-punk champs the Stooges and their wiry frontman Iggy Pop in this tremendously entertaining rock doco, charting their rise and premature demise through to their late-career revival.

God Willing

Se Dio vuole

Edoardo Falcone

This Italian box-office hit won Best New Director for Edoardo Falcone at the Italian Oscars and tells the comic tale of an atheist surgeon, a charismatic priest, and the dysfunctional family caught in the middle.

Graduation

Bacalaureat

Cristian Mungiu

Cannes winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) directs a tense, involving moral thriller centred on an overbearing father keen to get his daughter out of Romania and into a British university at any price.

The Greasy Strangler

Jim Hosking

Hands down the grossest, weirdest and truly most ‘WTF?’ film screening at NZIFF. A perverted combination of John Waters at his appalling best and the warped comedy of Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric.

Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier

Punk rockers and skinheads clash in this intense, darkly humorous game of cat-and-mouse, from the director of bracing indie thriller Blue Ruin.

H

The Handmaiden

Agassi

Park Chan-wook

Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.

Happy Hour

Hamaguchi Ryusuke

An epic, richly understated contemporary drama of friendship and relationships told through the lives of four Japanese women. Winner of acting and screenwriting awards at the Locarno Film Festival 2015.

Heart of a Dog

Laurie Anderson

An enchanted cinematic essay by legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson. A self-narrated punk meditation on love and death; exquisitely crafted and effortlessly profound.

The heART of the Matter

Luit Bieringa

Luit Bieringa’s richly archived documentary examines the legacy of Gordon Tovey and the post-war education programmes that put art, artists, and Māori arts in particular, into the New Zealand classroom.

High-Rise

Ben Wheatley

In Ben Wheatley's ambitious, wildly disorienting adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, tenants of a high-tech skyscraper slip into a literal class war. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss.

Hooligan Sparrow

Wang Nanfu

Filmmaker Wang Nanfu shares alarming risks with her subject, accompanying fearless Chinese women’s rights activist Ye Haiyan on a mission while facing intimidation at every turn.

Hotel Coolgardie

Pete Gleeson

Two Finnish backpackers take jobs as live-in barmaids in an Australian outback pub and are gobsmacked by the rampant sexism of the boss and clientele in this alarming fly-on-the-wall doco.

I

I, Daniel Blake

Ken Loach

This often funny and ultimately intensely moving tale of the friendship between an out-of-work Newcastle carpenter and a young single mother won for Britain’s Ken Loach a second Palme d’Or for Best Film at Cannes this year.

The Idealist

Idealisten

Christina Rosendahl

A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.

The Idol

Ya Tayr El Tayer

Hany Abu-Assad

There’s no such thing as instant stardom in this rousing dramatisation of the true story of Mohammed Assaf, a boy from Gaza whose golden voice took the Arab world by storm in 2013.

In Jackson Heights

Frederick Wiseman

Successive generations of immigrant Americans mix it up in veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s celebration of a community fighting gentrification in New York’s most ethnically and culturally diverse neighbourhood.

Indignation

James Schamus

Adapted from Philip Roth’s autobiographical novel of the same name, Indignation is an incisive, affecting drama of embattled individuality on a 50s American campus. With Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

Innocence of Memories

Grant Gee

This seductive physical and psychological journey through Istanbul with writer Orhan Pamuk mixes imagined narratives from his novel The Museum of Innocence and the real-world museum he created alongside it.

The Innocents

Les innocentes

Anne Fontaine

Based on a true story from post-World War II Poland, this satisfying drama follows a young female French doctor who finds herself caught up in the lives of nuns, traumatised and shamed by their wartime suffering.

J

Jim: The James Foley Story

Brian Oakes

Directed by a longtime friend, this documentary tribute to the life and work of war correspondent James Foley ensures that he will be well remembered for much more than his grisly public death at the hands of ISIS.

Johnny Guitar

Nicolas Ray

Nicholas Ray’s legendary 1954 Western put Joan Crawford in trousers with seething rival Mercedes McCambridge inciting mob violence. Riper, and more weirdly affecting than ever in this brilliant 4K Trucolor restoration.

Julieta

Pedro Almodóvar

Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother) returns to his roots with another satisfying female-centric emotional drama, cutting between past and present to explore the loves and regrets of his anxious heroine.

K

Kate Plays Christine

Robert Greene

Director Robert Greene and actress Kate Lyn Sheil blur fiction and reality as they investigate and reconstruct the story of newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who infamously committed suicide live on-air in 1974.

L

Lampedusa in Winter

Jakob Brossmann

Austrian filmmaker Jakob Brossmann captures a complex portrait of a tiny Mediterranean island community, its formidable mayor facing economic downturn and the burden of providing a temporary haven to countless refugees.

Land of Mine

Under sandet

Martin Zandvliet

In this tense, moving war drama, based on fact, a Danish sergeant takes charge of a group of youthful German POWs put to work defusing explosives on the coast of Denmark in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

The Land of the Enlightened

Pieter-Jan De Pue

Spectacular cinematography captures the world of bands of children who rove war-torn Afghanistan, scavenging, stealing, trading and surviving with gusto, in a film that artfully combines documentary and re-enactment.

Le Ride

Phil Keoghan

Amazing Race supremo Phil Keoghan jumps onto a 1928 bike to ride the Tour de France as experienced by Kiwi Harry Watson, one of the first English-speaking cyclists to enter, let alone complete the race.

Les Démons

Philippe Lesage

The fears that trouble a ten-year-old boy in 80s Montreal are evoked with humour, sensitivity and singular power in this amazing autobiographical portrait of childish innocence and vulnerability.

Life After Life

Zhi fan ye mao

Zhang Hanyi

The impact of China’s industrialisation on rural families simmers in the background of this dry, elegantly composed tale of reincarnation and relocation, produced by leading Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke.

Life, Animated

Roger Ross Williams

This incredibly moving and fascinating doco takes us into the interior life of autistic Owen Suskind, and explores how his love of Disney animated features gave him the tools as a child to communicate with the world.

Like Crazy

La pazza gioia

Paolo Virzì

“This high-energy romp is a superb showcase for its two lead actresses as they impetuously extend a group outing from the residential clinic into a two-character outlaw adventure.” — Lisa Nesselson, Screendaily

Little Men

Ira Sachs

Two New York boys fight to keep their parents’ personal business from sabotaging their connection in Ira Sachs’ tender tale set against the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighbourhood.

The Lives of Thérèse

Les vies de Thérèse

Sébastien Lifshitz

Filmed over the last months of her life, this compelling and inspiring portrait of the French feminist thinker and activist Thérèse Clerc celebrates her extraordinary evolution and vital legacy.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog, director of such notable classics of the non-fiction realm as Grizzly Man, turns his inimitable eye on the galloping evolution of the internet, its geniuses and its ominous implications for creation at large.

Long Way North

Tout en haut du monde

Rémi Chayé

Long Way North is a beautifully animated historical fantasy about a 19th-century Russian girl who embarks on a hazardous adventure to the North Pole to find her grandfather’s ship and save her family’s honour.

Looking for Grace

Sue Brooks

Sue Brooks (Road to Nhill, Japanese Story) applies her unique blend of comedy and drama as distraught parents (Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh) hit the road in pursuit of runaway teenage daughter Grace (Odessa Young).

Lost and Beautiful

Bella e perduta

Pietro Marcello

“Layering together the past, the present, and the timeless world of nature, Pietro Marcello fuses styles to explore Italy’s bucolic traditions and fragile but enduring cultural legacies.” — Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment

Love-Sick Shorts

Five unconventional shorts from around the world deliver twisted tales of teenage heartbreak, relationship doom, queer romance, online commodification and a feverish found-footage dream of sex and death.

Lovesong

So Yong Kim

Jena Malone and Riley Keough play former college friends whose infrequent meetings run deep in director So Yong Kim’s intimate, beautifully nuanced study of friendship and the attraction of opposites.

The Lure

Córki dancingu

Agnieszka Smoczyńska

A bizarre, sublimely surreal vampire-mermaid musical from Poland about two siren sisters who lure their prey from the stage of a trashy Warsaw nightclub.

M

Maman(s)

Maïmouna Doucouré

A young girl’s life is turned upside down when her father returns from Africa with a second wife and new baby in tow. Winner Best Short Film at Toronto 2015 and Sundance 2016. Screening with Sand Storm.

McCabe & Mrs Miller

Robert Altman

A stunning digital restoration of Robert Altman’s classic, lyrical reinvention of the American Western, made in 1971. Warren Beatty stars as a gambler going into business with Cockney madam Julie Christie. Songs by Leonard Cohen.

Mercenary

Mercenaire

Sacha Wolff

A young Pacific Islander has to grow up fast when he gets the opportunity to leave his idyllic but oppressive home and take up a professional rugby contract in France in this fierce and entertaining sports drama.

Michael Smither: Portraits

Tony Hiles

In the uncommonly moving seventh episode of Wellington filmmaker Tony Hiles’ documentary series celebrating the creative skills of his friend, Michael Smither, he finds the renowned artist returning after 40 years to portraiture.

Midnight Special

Jeff Nichols

Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher star in this dazzling, genre-defying sci-fi/chase movie from the director of Mud and Take Shelter.

Miss Sharon Jones!

Barbara Kopple

Academy Award-winning documentary maker Barbara Kopple delivers definitive proof, from show-stopping testimony in a small South Carolina church to Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre, that nobody raises the roof like Sharon Jones.

Moving

Eli Kent, Leon Wadham

In the wake of a painful breakup, a group of flatmates help the ex-couple separate their living arrangements. Screening with Lovesong.

Mr Gaga

Tomer Heymann

Studded with dazzling dance excerpts, this award-winning portrait also gets up close and personal to its charismatic subject, Israeli dancer, choreographer and, plenty say, genius, Ohad Naharin.

Much Ado About Nothing

Aquí no ha pasado nada

Alejandro Fernández Almendras

A hot date and an invitation to a great party have a fateful aftermath for a handsome young Chilean in this taut tale of crime, punishment and the price of justice, based on a notorious real-life case.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

Morgan Neville

On a quest to uncover Leonard Bernstein’s ‘universal language of music’, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma travels the old ‘Silk Road’ with virtuoso musicians from diverse instrumental traditions to collaborate on rousing new musical explorations.

N

Neon Bull

Boi neon

Gabriel Mascaro

The most erotically charged film of the year offers a wild, sensual look at life behind the scenes on a backcountry Brazilian rodeo circuit where the reality of human desire sidesteps gender stereotypes every time.

Neruda

Pablo Larraín

Not your conventional biopic, this enthralling dramatic exploration of the legacy of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda conjures up a fiction in which he is pursued into political exile by an incompetent detective played by Gael García Bernal.

New Zealand’s Best 2016

Help give the year’s best New Zealand short films the homegrown recognition they deserve by voting for your favourite at this screening.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2016

Check out the latest and best Māori and Pasifika short films as selected for NZIFF by Leo Koziol, Director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, and Craig Fasi, Director of the Pollywood Film Festival.

No Home Movie

Chantal Akerman

The late, great Belgian filmmaker and cultural nomad Chantal Akerman crafts a moving portrait of her relationship with her housebound mother, an Auschwitz survivor whose chronic anxiety greatly shaped her daughter’s art.

Notes on Blindness

Peter Middleton, James Spinney

Over three years, writer and theologian John Hull kept a series of audio diaries recounting his experience after losing his eyesight. This inventive documentary transposes his perceptions to film with startling success.

Nurse Me

Kezia Barnett

Emerging from the sea, three lone figures are reborn into a post-apocalyptic world. Choreography by MaryJane O’Reilly. Screening with Mr Gaga.

Nuts!

Penny Lane

Loaded with wry humour and surprising rug-pulls, Penny Lane’s supremely strange biography of 1920s impotence-cure mogul J.R. Brinkley is the documentary oddity every festival watch-list needs at least one of.

O

Obit

Vanessa Gould

Vanessa Gould’s fond and fascinating documentary introduces us to the unseen women and men responsible for crafting the obituaries of the New York Times.

On an Unknown Beach

Adam Luxton, Summer Agnew

Three distinct ‘explorers’ – a marine scientist, an improvised sound artist and an underground poet – form the nexus of this unique, visually arresting documentary from New Zealand filmmakers Adam Luxton and Summer Agnew.

One-Eyed Jacks

Marlon Brando

A singular Western rightfully restored for the big screen, Marlon Brando’s sole directorial effort and legendary film maudit arrives fresh from its enthusiastic reappraisal at Cannes.

Operation Avalanche

Matt Johnson

Everyone knows the moon-landing was faked for the television cameras, but nobody had quite so much evidence before actor/director Matt Johnson uncovered this astounding behind-the-scenes footage, starring himself.

Our Last Tango

Un tango más

German Kral

In their heyday, Buenos Aires octogenarians María Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes were the Ginger and Fred of tango. In this dance-filled doco they recall their 50-year career and their often stormy personal life.

P

Paris 05:59

Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau

Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau

An intensely romantic night in Paris begins for two young men when they experience the coup de foudre in a sex club orgy, then roam the empty city streets in a post-coital daze and begin to get acquainted.

Paterson

Jim Jarmusch

Direct from Cannes, Jim Jarmusch’s beautifully calibrated ode to art and ordinariness stars Adam Driver as a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry in his downtime and Golshifteh Farahani as his cupcake chef wife.

A Perfect Day

Fernando León de Aranoa

Crisp photography, boisterous tunes and a stacked deck of affable company make this funny, incisive comedy a memorable entry for the war genre. With Benicio Del Toro and Tim Robbins.

Perfect Strangers

Perfetti sconsciuti

Paolo Genovese

A gathering of old friends accepts the challenge to share all incoming calls and messages. It’s a game you won’t want to emulate at your next dinner party, but dammit, you’ll be thinking about it.

Personal Shopper

Olivier Assayas

Kristen Stewart reunites with Clouds of Sils Maria director Oliver Assayas to play a young American in Paris, buying haute couture for her celebrity boss, and seeking contact with the spirit of her dead twin brother.

Poi E: The Story of Our Song

Tearepa Kahi

NZIFF 2016 opens with the World Premiere screenings of the Kiwi feel-good movie of the year: Tearepa Kahi’s richly researched celebration of Dalvanius Prime and the many rivers that flowed into the making of ‘Poi E’.

Q

The Queen of Ireland

Conor Horgan

Combining superstar bio and social history, this entertaining doco follows drag queen Panti Bliss as she rises from ‘giant cartoon woman’ to fearless activist in the hard-fought campaign for same-sex marriage in Ireland.

A Quiet Passion

Terence Davies

Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine star in Terence Davies’ lively, witty and ultimately intensely moving dramatisation of the sheltered life of 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

R

Radio Dreams

Babak Jalali

In this deadpan comedy, a high-minded Iranian writer pursues his ambitious goal of cultural exchange, bringing together Metallica and Kabul Dreams, Afghanistan’s first rock band, at a lo-fi radio station in San Francisco.

The Red Turtle

La Tortue rouge

Michael Dudok de Wit

Studio Ghibli’s first international co-production is a ravishing castaway fable that combines beauty, mystery, drama and heartbreak – with not a word spoken. It’s a triumph for animator Michael Dudok de Wit.

The Rehearsal

Alison Maclean

In Alison Maclean’s vibrant screen adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, a first-year acting student (James Rolleston) channels the real-life experience of his girlfriend’s family into art and sets off a moral minefield.

The Road

Zhang Zanbo

This doco provides an astonishingly revealing picture of the construction of a section of China’s massive Xu-Huai Highway, as seen by dislocated locals, exploited migrant workers and the embattled construction company.

S

The Salesman

Forushande

Asghar Farhadi

From Iranian master Asghar Farhadi: a violent incident rocks the marriage of two Tehran actors in this Cannes award winner for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.

Sand Storm

Sufat chol

Elite Zexer

Elite Zexer’s mesmerising debut feature portrays the emotionally layered relationship between a Bedouin mother and her spirited daughter, both bound by village custom while struggling to adapt to a changing world.

Shadow World

Johan Grimonprez

Based on a behind-the-scenes exposé written by former South African politician Andrew Feinstein, this excoriating doco from Johan Grimonprez offers a superb and succinct examination of the global arms trade.

Sieranevada

Cristi Puiu

This blackly comic drama from the director of The Death of Mr Lazerescu draws us into the complex dynamics of an extended Bucharest family gathered to memorialise their late beloved patriarch.

Sixty Six

Lewis Klahr

Bringing the work of master collagist Lewis Klahr to New Zealand for the first time, this new collection of short films offers a terrific introduction to his eye-zapping assemblages of 60s pop culture ephemera.

Skin

Luke Thornborough

A young man suffering from a rare and painful skin disease learns to wear his own skin, flaws and all. Screening with The Wounded Angel.

So Good to See You

Duke Merriman

On their way to a dinner party, a couple accidentally leave the voice message from hell. Screening with Perfect Strangers.

The Son of Joseph

Le fils de Joseph

Eugène Green

“Offbeat French formalist Eugène Green delivers his most accessible work to date with this… honey-drizzled, farcically funny fable of an unhappy teenager seeking a father.” — Guy Lodge, Variety

Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Chloé Zhao

A heartfelt dramatised contemplation of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, experienced partly through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl steeling herself for the departure of her adored older brother.

Spectral Visions

From a mysterious stone circle in southwest England, to the backwater canals of Venice, to suburban New Zealand, these five inventive shorts take us on an ethereal journey and open our eyes to new perspectives.

Suburra

Stefano Sollima

This bloody, brutal crime saga boasts the epic sprawl of the mob classics it emulates, but with a lurid energy all of its own. With a throbbing score from electronic heavyweights M83.

Sunset Song

Terence Davies

“Terence Davies’s Sunset Song is a movie with a catch or sob in its singing voice: a beautifully made and deeply felt adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel of rural Scotland.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Swiss Army Man

Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan

Paul Dano discovers all the tools he needs for survival in Daniel Radcliffe’s multi-purpose corpse in this wildly weird desert island comedy from viral and music video oddballs the Daniels.

A Syrian Love Story

Sean McAllister

This riveting doco, both intimate and raw, follows a pro-democracy activist couple and their four children over five turbulent years from imprisonment by the Al-Assad regime, pre-Arab Spring, to asylum in France.

T

Tanna

Bentley Dean, Martin Butler

Australian documentary filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler collaborated with villagers in the Vanuatu highlands who’d never seen a movie to create this luminous tale of forbidden love and continuously evolving tradition.

Ten Years

Kwok Zune, Wong Fei-pang, Jevons Au, Chow Kwun-wai, Ng Ka-leung

Banned in China, satire lives in Hong Kong. Five dystopian visions of Hong Kong ten years from now by five independent filmmakers, Ten Years mysteriously disappeared from Hong Kong cinemas after drawing record crowds.

Theeb

Naji Abu Nowar

Set in 1916, this suspenseful, historically freighted Jordanian film concerns a watchful young Bedouin obliged to guide a British officer through the spectacular desert of Wadi Rum. Best Foreign Language Oscar Nominee 2016.

Things to Come

L’avenir

Mia Hansen-Løve

Isabelle Huppert essays a self-possessed woman confronting unexpected changes in her life and work in Mia Hansen-Løve’s heartfelt and perceptive portrait of middle age.

Thirst

Jajda

Svetla Tsotsorkova

In this richly atmospheric debut, a hot summer in the Bulgarian countryside gets hotter when a family acquires two extra inhabitants on their parched property – a well-driller and his unruly teenage daughter.

Thithi

Raam Reddy

From India’s southern state of Karnataka, this award-winning comic gem made by first-time director Raam Reddy charms with its easygoing naturalism, evocative setting and colourful cast of characters.

Tokyo Story

Tokyo monogatari

Ozu Yasujiro

Voted in Sight & Sound’s 2012 poll the third greatest film of all time (and topping the list among directors), Ozu Yasujiro’s sublime family drama is as relevant today as it has ever been, in a sparkling new restoration.

Tomorrow

Demain

Cyril Dion, Mélanie Laurent

In ten countries around the world this stimulating French doco (and box office hit) finds concrete examples of solutions to environmental and social challenges in agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.

Toni Erdmann

Maren Ade

Hailed at Cannes as a brilliantly original comic masterpiece, Austrian writer/director Maren Ade’s epic of parent-child dysfunction centres on a father assailing his uptight corporate daughter with crazy pranks.

A Touch of Zen

Xia nu

King Hu

Frequently imitated (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and never surpassed, King Hu’s spectacular pre-CGI masterpiece of wuxia cinema has been radiantly restored. “The visual style will set your eyes on fire.” — Time Out

Tower

Keith Maitland

Blending animation with live action, oral history and archival footage, Keith Maitland’s SXSW winner is a suspenseful doco that recreates the terrible day of America’s first mass shooting on a campus.

Truman

Cesc Gay

Argentine Ricardo Darín and Spaniard Javier Cámara are beautifully paired in the most garlanded Spanish film of the year, a warm and humorous drama of male friendship shaded with imminent mortality.

The Turning Tide

Jason Taylor

A story of adventure and discovery as two Māori boys come to the realisation of larger issues impacting their coastline. Screening with Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

U

Under the Shadow

Babak Anvari

This politically charged, spine-chilling debut from Iranian Babak Anvari is a tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War.

Under the Sun

V luchakh solnca

Vitaly Mansky

Shot with the permission and supervision of Pyongyang authorities, Under the Sun turns a North Korean propaganda exercise into a deep-cover documentary about life inside one of the world’s most repressive nations.

Unlocking the Cage

Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker

After a lifetime of preparation, US animal protection attorney Steven Wise builds a groundbreaking suit seeking legal autonomy for chimpanzee clients. Expertly documented by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.

V

Variety

Varieté

E.A. Dupont

A stunning restoration of this classic tale of backstage passions from Weimar-era Berlin is accompanied by a new chamber orchestra score composed by Johannes Contag, commissioned by NZIFF and the Goethe-Institut.

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt

Ada Ushpiz

This new documentary provides insight and historical perspective on the life and work of philosopher Hannah Arendt, illuminating her relevance to some of the most troubling phenomena of our own times.

W

A War

Krigen

Tobias Lindholm

“Propulsive action drama meets philosophical rumination in A War, a superlative Danish take on the Middle East-set soldier story – think American Sniper by way of Borgen.” — Kevin Maher, The Times

Weiner

Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

An amazingly up-close and personal view inside the New York mayoral campaign that became a media frenzy when the charismatic candidate with the excruciatingly appropriate name couldn’t keep himself from sexting.

When Two Worlds Collide

Heidi Brandenburg Sierralta, Mathew Orzel

When mining and clear-cutting contracts threatened their native lands, indigenous Peruvians took to the streets. This film documents their years of struggle against the ruthless tactics of a furiously antagonistic government.

Wide Open Sky

Lisa Nicol

In this charming doco, gifted teacher and musician, Michelle Leonard, travels to under-resourced outback NSW auditioning children then schooling the chosen 130 to perform in the annual Moorambilla Voices choir.

Wild

Nicolette Krebitz

A chance encounter with a wolf proves to be inexorably life-changing for the lonely young woman at the heart of this striking German drama, which takes the idea of getting back to nature to an irrational extreme.

Winter Song

Chant d’hiver

Otar Iosseliani

In a similar style to Jacques Tati, this elaborate and nostalgic comic portrait of the denizens of a Paris suburb favours visual gags over dialogue and the beguiling unravelling of random connections over plot.

The Wounded Angel

Ranenyy angel

Emir Baigazin

Four thematically linked stories portray the harsh lives of four different teenagers in desolate rural Kazakhstan in this disarming new work from a young Central Asian director who has fast become a festival favourite.

Z

Zero Days

Alex Gibney

Backed by insider analysis of the Stuxnet sabotage of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, Alex Gibney’s gripping new documentary argues that the architects of cyberwarfare have been both brilliant and insanely reckless.