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Films from 2017

Politics, an Instruction Manual

Política, manual de instrucciones

Fernando León de Aranoa

Fernando León de Aranoa’s fly-on-the-wall doco reveals the inner workings of the populist Spanish collective that took on the austerity movement and helped break the mould of Spanish politics.

La Chana

Lucija Stojevic

Supported by abundant footage, old and new, of spectacular dance and outstanding flamenco music, this intimate portrait is a loving tribute to the legendary gypsy dancer whose passion burns as strongly as ever.

The Future Perfect

El futuro perfecto

Nele Wohlatz

Arriving in Buenos Aires, a young Chinese immigrant embraces the struggle of a new language and surroundings, reimagining herself and her future in the process, in this dry comedy of manners.

Kiki, Love to Love

Kiki, el amor se hace

Paco Léon

Anyone for harpaxophilia? How about somnophilia? In five intertwined mini-romcoms, a scorching summer heatwave intensifies the very particular desires of a collection of Madrid lovers. A major hit at the Spanish box office.

The Venerable W.

Le vénérable W.

Barbet Schroeder

Barbet Schroeder (General Idi Amin Dada, Terror’s Advocate) completes his trilogy of evil with this chilling documentary about the Buddhist monk whose Islamophobic rhetoric is stoking ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

Don’t Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl!

Não devore meu coração!

Felipe Bragança

A twisted tale of star-crossed lovers set amongst rival motorcycle gangs roaming a remote border region. Felipe Bragança’s neon-drenched, synth-laden film could be a biker Drive as reimagined by David Lynch.

Risk

Laura Poitras

Dramatically revised since its 2016 Cannes premiere, Laura Poitras’ years-in-the-making, all-access documentary about Julian Assange provides a deeply revealing portrait of a man who would change the world.

The Distinguished Citizen

El ciudadano ilustre

Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat

In this dark, slyly observed comedy an internationally successful writer is feted by – and confronted with – the people of the small town in Argentina that bred him and informed his life’s work.

The Desert Bride

La novia del desierto

Cecilia Atán, Valeria Pivato

Paulina García (Gloria) plays an uprooted woman who stumbles into a new-found freedom with help from Claudio Rissi’s friendly stranger in this delicate and charming Argentinean debut feature.

Austerlitz

Sergei Loznitsa

How should we remember the Holocaust? As tourists visit Nazi death camps in increasing numbers, Sergei Loznitsa sets up his camera at Sachsenhausen and Dachau and simply observes the behaviour of the visitors.

The Untamed

La región salvaje

Amat Escalante

Love triangle drama and erotic bio-sci-fi thrills meet in a truly bizarre exploration of oppressive machismo and liberating sexual abandon from Mexican director Amat Escalante.

A Fantastic Woman

Una mujer fantástica

Sebastián Lelio

Rising Chilean director Sebastián Lelio (Gloria) celebrates the endurance of a woman under suspicion of murder in a film that heralds a stellar debut for transgender actress Daniela Vega.

The Lost City of Z

James Gray

Charlie Hunnam makes a commanding flawed hero as British Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett in a sweeping giant screen epic, filmed with rare intelligence by writer/director James Gray. With Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson.

Films from the Archive

King of Caravans/A Story for the Modlins

Two short docos invite us into two very odd, very different personal domains. Zoe McIntosh found her King of Caravans at a motel caravan park in Whanganui. A Story for the Modlins uncovers a reclusive American family in Madrid.

The Orphanage

J.A. Bayona

"A brilliant Spanish horror film... [it] is what every great horror film should be. A drama first, a fright factory second." — Financial Times. Produced by Spain's master of cinema fantasy, Guillermo del Toro.

Homegrown: Works on Video Drama

MIC Toi Rerehiko presents the best new NZ short films selected by a panel of industry experts. This years’ crop of short dramas testifies to the diversity and invention of Aotearoa’s finest up-and-coming filmmakers.

King of the Hill

El rey de la montaña

Gonzalo López-Gallego

A taut cat and mouse chase in the Spanish wilderness. "A sly, deceptive gut punch of a picture... a brilliant, vicious little piece of work." — Twitch

The Sea Inside

Mar adentro

Alejandro Amenábar

Javier Bardem is superb in this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, the true story of Ramón Sampedro, who famously fought the Spanish government for the right to end his life.

The Artists Cinema

The second annual Artists Cinema programme of short films again asks for a ‘response, comment, interruption and/or reflection on the cinema context’ from established artists more usually associated with the gallery context.

The Silence Before Bach

Die Stille vor Bach

Pere Portabella

A wonderful, inventive tribute to the great composer. "Brings Bach's music to life with a mysterious, magnificent blend of drama, documentary, and quasi-surrealist whimsy." — New Yorker

Mataharis

Icíar Bollaín

The notion of the female spy as glamorous femme fatale is given a reality check in this intriguing and refreshing film. "With a sharp eye for a good story... an excellent exploration of the emotional intelligence of women." — Hollywood Reporter

Camino

Javier Fesser

Sensationally entertaining and entertainingly sensational, this Spanish multi-award winner is the boldest of cinematic assaults on Opus Dei and the first to match box office success with genuinely subversive intent.

The Women on the 6th Floor

Les Femmes du 6e étage

Philippe Le Guay

In this breezy comedy an uptight middle-class couple (Fabrice Luchini and Sandrine Kiberlain) are snapped out of their tired routines by their Spanish maid and a houseful of her female relations.

La jaula de oro

Diego Quemada-Diez

“This powerful yet unsentimental thriller keeps audiences guessing as four Central American kids head to the US.” — Variety. “Tough, absorbing, suspenseful – a very substantial movie, with great compassion and urgency.” — The Guardian

Los Olvidados

The Young and the Damned

Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel's violent drama of life without love in the dog-eat-dog slums of Mexico City has lost none of its shocking power after 56 years. (1950) “A great, great movie.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Cría cuervos

Raise Ravens

Carlos Saura

Ana Torrent, surely one of the screen’s most compelling child actors, and Geraldine Chaplin as her mother are unforgettable in Carlos Saura’s unique and haunting evocation of an eight-year-old girl’s fears and fantasies.

Cell 211

Celda 211

Daniel Monzón

A rookie prison guard finds himself trapped on the wrong side of a riot in this powerhouse prison drama that cleaned up at the Spanish Academy Awards. “Satisfyingly intense and suitably incendiary.” — Variety

Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle

Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo

Gustavo Salmerón

This highly entertaining portrait follows the changing fortunes of a Spanish family headed by an eccentric matriarch, whose improbable teenage dreams came true. A popular hit and award winner at home and abroad.

Cría cuervos

Carlos Saura

Celebrating 40 years of the Film Festival: Ana Torrent, surely one of the great child actors, and Geraldine Chaplin in Carlos Saura’s haunting 1976 classic. “A gripping, profoundly mysterious movie.” — The Guardian

The River People

La gente del río

Martín Benchimol, Pablo Aparo

Martín Benchimol and Pablo Aparo’s documentary about the last remaining citizens of Ernestina, a tiny picturesque Argentinian town that’s seen better days, offers an intimate, droll study of siege mentality in action.

[REC]

Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Zombies chomp on a reality TV crew (and others) in the horror flick of the year. "Run, escape, survive... but never stop recording."

¿La Verdad?

The Truth?

Helen Smyth

The extraordinary true story of a Kiwi couple – journalist Helen Smyth and Tim Rose, of Havana Coffee Works – who went to Cuba and accidentally befriended one of Fidel Castro's top spies.

The Sky, the Earth and the Rain

El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia

José Luis Torres Leiva

A poetic meditation on solitude, this masterful debut frames its characters within the imposing, rugged setting of a rural coastal area in Chile.

La Zona

Rodrigo Plá

This expert thriller set in a wealthy walled community in Mexico City packs nail-biting suspense with a scathing broadside on class war. "Riveting." — Hollywood Reporter

The Two Escobars

Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist

Documenting the entwined lives of soccer hero Andrés Escobar and notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar (no relation), this film uncovers Colombian soccer’s Faustian pact with the drug trade.

The Take

Avi Lewis

Filmmaker Avi Lewis introduces his documentary (co-authored with Naomi Klein) following the efforts of laid-off Argentinian workers to occupy and restart factories abandoned after the 2001 economic collapse.

The Violin

El Violin

Francisco Vargas Quevedo

Filmed in luscious black and white against the backdrop of Mexico's peasant revolts of the 1970s, an elderly musician smuggles ammunition to guerrilla fighters armed only with his violin.

Aita

José María de Orbe

Light and shadows in a crumbling mansion in the Basque countryside are the central players in this exquisite, painterly study of the passage of time. “An exquisitely high-art variation on the haunted-house movie.” — Hollywood Reporter

Timecrimes

Los cronocrímenes

Nacho Vigalondo

"An incredibly well crafted time-travel story... a tense, unstoppable vision of science and natural law gone awry." — Fantastic Fest

Battle in Heaven

Batalla en el cielo

Carlos Reygadas

Carlos Reygadas’ spectacularly grandiose follow-up to the startling Japón turns the struggle for the soul of its protagonist into an epic art-porn critique on the role of religion in Mexican life.

Machuca

Andrés Wood

"Machuca... is both sweet and stringent, attuned to the wonders of childhood as well as its cruelty and terror." — A.O. Scott, NY Times

Love Still

Todavía el amor

Guzmán García

The elderly dancers in a Montevideo tango bar talk to a young filmmaker about love. “Captures an intimacy for the couples and singles that allows them to tell their stories of joy, loss, family drama and betrayal.” — Hot Docs

Bella

Alejandro Monteverde

A handsome Mexican soccer star whose career was cut short by tragedy finds solace with a pregnant waitress in this sensitive, transcendent film set in New York, that won the People's Choice at Toronto.

Paris

Cédric Klapisch

From the director of The Spanish Apartment, a mult-character cavalcade of life and death and love and the lack of it in the City of Lights. "A rich and satisfying indulgence." — UrbanCinefile.com.au

Pin Boy

Parapalos

Ana Poliak

This candid portrait of working life and camaraderie in a Buenos Aries bowling alley is a fine example of new Argentinian cinema.

Quinceañera

Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland

A young girl's 15th birthday bash is derailed by an immaculate conception in this saucy, heartfelt exploration of love, family and neighbourhood gentrification set in a Latino suburb of Los Angeles.

Presumed Guilty

Presunto culpable

Geoffrey Smith, Roberto Hernández

Corruption in the Mexican justice system comes into vivid focus in this close-up account of a campaign to free a young breakdancer serving a 20-year sentence for a murder he could not possibly have committed.

Waiting for Sancho

Mark Peranson

Critic and filmmaker Mark Peranson introduces his unconventional documentary about the making of an unconventional film, Birdsong. “A real artistic inquiry and celebration.” — Variety

Bonsái

Cristian Jimenez

Sex, lies and literature. Deftly switching between love affairs eight years apart, this tale of postgrad passions and literary aspiration wittily translates an acclaimed Chilean novella into a gentle, funny movie.

With Fidel Whatever Happens

Con Fidel pase lo que pase

Goran Radovanović

Several inhabitants of Sierra Maestra, Cuba are observed as they go quietly about their lives the day before the national hoopla for the 52nd anniversary of the revolution in this sardonic picture of ‘the last days of Fidelism’.

Whores’ Glory

Michael Glawogger

“A daring, novelistic and unforgettable account of the real lives of female prostitutes in three very different countries and social contexts… A wrenching journalistic exploration… and something close to great cinema.” — Salon.com

Whisky

Juan Pablo Rebella, Pablo Stoll

Connoisseurs of the deadpan and the droll are invited to check out the Uruguayan sock factory movie. “A pint-size pleasure.” — NY Times

The Lifeguard

El salvavidas

Maite Alberdi

Mauricio believes that rules, not heroic rescues, prevent drownings. Filmmaker Maite Alberdi’s documentary portrait of a summer lifeguard at work on a popular Chilean beach could hardly be more telling or more oddly moving.

The Peddler

El ambulante

Lucas Marcheggiano, Adriana Yurcovich, Eduardo de la Serna

This gentle documentary follows a grandfatherly Argentinean who earns a living travelling from pueblo to pueblo making and showing action movies featuring the locals. “Extraordinary… a real charmer.” — Variety

The Night of the Sunflowers

La noche de los girasoles

Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo

Dark, gripping, multi-narrative thriller set in rural Spain. "Exciting picture of a crime and how its ripples beget other acts of turpitude and create new victims." — The Observer

A Useful Life

La vida útil

Federico Veiroj

What do you do when redundancy strikes and everything you know about life you learned from programming a Cinematheque? A love of movies connects to the world outside the cinema in this charmingly droll comedy.

The Maid

La nana

Sebastián Silva

The ties that bind a live-in maid to the family for whom she has worked for over 20 years are coming unstuck in this agile, funny and deeply perceptive psychological drama. Best International Feature, Sundance 2009.

Lake Tahoe

Fernando Eimbcke

This tender deadpan comedy follows 16-year-old Juan as he tries to organise a repair job on the family car he has just crashed. Selected as 'Revelation of the Year', Critics' Week Cannes 2008

25 Carat

25 kilates

Patxi Amezcua

A gritty romantic thriller set on the mean streets and alleys of Barcelona, 25 Carat delivers classic, character-driven pulp fiction. “The real thing… down-to-earth, wiry and taut.” — Variety

Balseros

Cuban Rafters

Carlos Bosch, Josep Maria Domenech

Blancanieves

Pablo Berger

The year’s most acclaimed and fabulously stylish Spanish film transplants a classic fairy tale to 1920s Seville. “Lavishly upholstered in silvery black and white; a grotesquely beautiful new take on the Snow White fable.” — NPR

Zama

Lucrecia Martel

The brilliant Argentinian auteur Lucrecia Martel returns with a feverish, formally sophisticated period piece about a Spanish officer’s personal hell in colonial South America.

Secrets of the Tribe

José Padilha

Startling doco about academic views of tribal life in the Amazon. “The field of anthropology goes under the magnifying glass in this fiery investigation of the seminal research on Yanomami Indians.” — Sundance Film Festival

Las Acacias

Pablo Giorgelli

This delicate Argentinean road movie depicting the touching encounter between a long-distance truck driver and the woman and child he takes as passengers won the Caméra d’Or for Best First Film at Cannes this year.

Drama/Mex

Gerardo Naranjo

Set over one hot night in the once-glamorous tourist resort of Acapulco, this sensitive, authentic Mexican drama weaves together three stories of love, despair and unexpected compassion.

Alamar

To the Sea

Pedro González-Rubio

In this lyrically simple film a five-year-old city boy is introduced to the traditional fisherman’s life of his father and grandfather as they pass a summer at work and play in the pristine waters of the Mexican Caribbean.

First Position

Bess Kargman

Six gifted young ballet students from disparate backgrounds prepare for the career-making Youth America Grand Prix in this intimate picture of the highly competitive world of dance. “Touching, enormously satisfying.” — Variety

The Aura

El Aura

Fabián Bielinsky

Argentine director Fabian Bielinsky’s follow up to Nine Queens is a spellbinding, character driven heist film set in the magnificent mountain wilderness of Patagonia.

Nostalgia for the Light

Nostalgia de la luz

Patricio Guzmán

Astronomy, archaeology and history are mesmerisingly interwoven and juxtaposed in this visually breathtaking meditation on Chile’s far distant and more recent past by the remarkable documentarian Patricio Guzmán.

Back to Stay

Abrir puertes y ventanas

Milagros Mumenthaler

Milagros Mumenthaler’s slow-burning portrait follows three young sisters alone in a Buenos Aires house. Their dysfunctional relationship gradually unveils the circumstances of their peculiarly isolated, indolent lives.

Mad Hot Ballroom

Marilyn Agrelo

Ballroom dancing teams from three New York public elementary schools prepare for competition. This irresistible picture of the civilising power of music, dance and inspired teaching may leave you hankering to move the kids to Manhattan.

Mondovino

Jonathan Nossiter

“A fascinating picture on wine as business and pleasure, poetry and philosophy, a way of life and a form of colonialism.” — Philip French, The Observer

The Future of Food

Deborah Koons Garcia

The Future of Food gets to the elemental truths about genetically modified seeds and produce.” — Laura Singara, Village Voice

Puzzle

Rompecabezas

Natalia Smirnoff

This astutely observed, wryly gracious little film tells the tale of a 50-year-old wife and mother who discovers richly deserved respite from domestic routine in her remarkable newfound skill with giant jigsaw puzzles.

Habana Muda

Erich Brach

This frank documentary account of unfolding complications in the personal life of Chino, a young Havana deaf-mute man with crooked porn star looks, sheds surprising light on life and sexual freedom in Cuba today.

Where the Condors Fly

Making of ¡Vivan las Antipodas!

Carlos Klein

A “making of” that soars over the wasteland of promotional puffery and DVD extras, this candid, funny picture of Russian documentary maven Viktor Kossakovsky at work on his feel-good epic ¡Vivan las Antipodas! packs enough revelation, provocation and debate to constitute a masterclass.

The Method

El Método, aka The Grönholm Method

Marcelo Piñeyro

Seven executives compete in a boardroom until the last suit standing gets the job in this suavely savage corporate thriller that makes Neil La Bute seem sentimental.

The Last Circus

Balada triste de trompeta

Álex de la Iglesia

A circus, two clowns, one ballerina, a blood-and-bullets-riddled love triangle, and lots of dark humour. The Tarantino-headed jury gave The Last Circus Best Screenplay and Best Director awards, Venice Film Festival 2010.

It's All Gone Pete Tong

Michael Dowse

In this send-up-cum-celebration of rave scene excess, English comedian Paul Kaye pulls out all the stops as a deranged Cockney exile who mixes his way to club-scene stardom in the über-trendy Spanish resort of Ibiza.

Sin Nombre

Cary Joji Fukunaga

“This harrowing, pulse-pounding thriller, shot entirely in Mexico by young American hotshot director Cary Joji Fukunaga, looks like the debut film of the year.” — Salon.com. Best Director, Sundance Film Festival.

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.

Western

Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross

In this affecting documentary portrait of a latter-day cowboy and lawman, the peace of two small cattle towns on opposite sides of the Texas–Mexico border is threatened by the shadow of Mexican drug cartels.

Rolling Family

Familia rodante

Pablo Trapero

Family chaos takes to the road in this amiable comedy from Argentina. “Slyly funny… a multi-generational road movie proving that the family that travels together unravels together.” — Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

No

Pablo Larraín

Gael García Bernal stars in the dramatic true story of the poppy advertising campaign that urged Chileans to oust the dictator Pinochet in 1988. “Weirdly funny and rousing, both intellectually and emotionally.” — NY Times

I'm So Excited!

Los amantes pasajeros

Pedro Almodóvar

Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar camps up the airplane disaster movie. “A hugely entertaining, feelgood celebration of human sexuality that unfolds as a cathartic experience for characters, audiences and director alike.” — Variety

Demonstration

Victor Kossakovsky, 32 film students from Pompeu Fabra University

Remarkable footage of a Barcelona anti-austerity demonstration – and its quelling – shaped into a lyrical tribute to the spirit of protest by Victor Kossakovsky ( ¡Vivan las Antipodas!) and 32 Spanish film students.

Duck Season

Temporada de patos

Fernando Eimbcke

“If there's such a thing as a film cruising by on pure charm, that's just what this debut feature does.” — Shane Danielson, Edinburgh International Film Festival

Heli

Amat Escalante

Mexican Amat Escalante’s controversial, terrifying picture of innocents drawn into an inferno of drug-gang violence won him the Best Director laurel at Cannes. “Winningly provocative and always compelling.” — Time Out