NZIFF Booklet

Films by Must See

Staff Picks: Tom Ainge-Roy

Being born into a family of documentary film makers, I like to think I was always destined to be involved in films and what better way than to work at New Zealand’s biggest and best film festival! There is nothing like being awake in the dark watching a new film direct from Cannes at the glorious Embassy and this year there is a cracker of a line up coming! I like to mix my festival experience between rich cinematic storytelling and a journey of discovery of new ideas, people and places. The best films mix all these elements and leave you reeling as you exit the cinema. Documentaries are stacked heavy this year and with good reason, from seasoned veterans to new debuts, there is no shortage of fascinating subjects to encounter and it certainly feels like the genre is moving from strength to strength in the last few years. Without further ado, I present my picks for the festival.

A Most Violent Year

J.C. Chandor

In J.C. Chandor’s intense, 80s-set thriller an ambitious wheeler-dealer on New York’s contested waterfront (Oscar Isaac) tries to detoxify his business, but his Mob daughter wife (Jessica Chastain) has other ideas.

’71

Yann Demange

This nerve-racking wartime thriller from director Yann Demange and Black Watch writer Gregory Burke stars Jack O’Connell (Starred Up) as a lost British soldier hunted by both sides amid the mayhem of Belfast, 1971.

The Assassin

Nie Yinniang

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Shu Qi plays the eponymous killer in this ravishingly beautiful foray into historical martial arts territory from Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien. Winner of the Best Director Award at Cannes.

James White

Josh Mond

Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon are indelible as a Manhattan slacker careening out of control and his mother battling cancer in Josh Mond’s intensely immersive first feature.

Welcome to Leith

Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker

A tiny North Dakota town wakes to a nightmare when a notorious white supremacist moves in and tries to take over in this gripping portrait of conflicting notions of freedom in a community under siege.

Meru

Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

A new summit in mountain sports documentary – with characters and a plot to rival many a feature, Meru captures the sheer physical extremity of two attempts to make the first ascent of a precipitous Himalayan peak.

Merchants of Doubt

Robert Kenner

Scoring its points through clearly stated arguments and pithy humour, Merchants of Doubt examines the methods corporations use to stymie political actions that would be good for public health, but bad for their bottom lines.

Alice Cares

Ik ben Alice

Sander Burger

Can a robot establish a ‘human’ relationship with someone? In this account of a Dutch pilot study, we see three elderly women become attached, with varying degrees of resistance, to a caredroid named Alice.

Cartel Land

Matthew Heineman

“Matthew Heineman’s troubling documentary about vigilante groups on both sides of the border in the porous region between Mexico and the Southwestern US – an area increasingly taken over by drug cartels – is explosive stuff.” — New York

Best of Enemies

Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville

Anticipating the punch-counterpunch set-up of today’s TV punditry, but so much more incisive, the 1968 TV debates between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr resound again in this terrific documentary.