“Charming Iranian cinema at its purest… Once more defying a filmmaking ban, Iranian director Jafar Panahi sounds the depths of traditional values in a road movie with actress Behnaz Jafari.” — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
An exquisitely shot and very moving film about an aging couple who appear to exist alone on the edge of the world, stoically surviving on the Arctic tundra in a way of life that may be about to end.
A single mother turned border guard and a refugee from Guinea-Bissau form an unlikely bond in this intimate Icelandic drama about two people literally and figuratively trapped on the edge of the world.
Jia nian hua
“In an intriguing film noir full of white light reflecting off virginal dresses, polished surfaces and sparkling sand, director Vivian Qu probes the status of girls in Chinese society.” — Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail
A celebratory showcase of some of the year’s best and brightest animated shorts. If you’re looking to sample the animation ecosystem in all its multi-coloured, variously shaped glories, there’s no better place to begin.
This snowbound endurance thriller, shot spectacularly on location in Iceland, stars Mads Mikkelsen as the sole survivor of an air crash, stranded somewhere in the barren wastlelands of the Arctic.
Jianghu er nv
The transfixing Zhao Tao plays a tough, resilient woman in love with a small-time hoodlum in Jia Zhang-ke’s epic gangland romance, set against China’s relentless modernisation in the 21st century.
This alarming contemporary coming-of-age tale of a fiercely independent teenage girl at odds with her conservative Tehran school is based on the experiences of Iranian expat writer/director Sadaf Foroughi.
A taut, twisty hostage thriller with shades of Le Carré, Beirut brings Jon Hamm and his brand of suave, world-weary charisma to war-torn Lebanon. Co-starring Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl).
Coming of age in 1970s Western Australia is poignantly evoked in Simon Baker’s visually poetic adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel about a young man’s obsession with surfing and the allure of living dangerously.
Direct from Cannes, the latest sensation from French cinema’s premier provocateur Gaspar Noé (Enter the Void) is his best yet, an exhilarating 1990s techno dance musical that spins out into collective freak-out.
A national favourite in the Czech Republic since 1999, Jan Hřebejk’s comedy of puppy love and feuding families reanimates 1960s Prague before the Soviet crackdown, with humour, affection – and a powerful sense of what was lost.
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.
Jusqu’à la garde
“Deftly pivoting from tense realism to outright horror, Xavier Legrand’s broken-family chamber drama deservedly won the first-time feature director the Venice Film Festival’s Best Director award.” — Sight & Sound
The landmark lesbian love story returns to the giant screen as vibrant, beautiful and celebratory as ever.
Rachel Weisz stars as a black sheep drawn back to her London Orthodox Jewish home, rekindling sparks with a childhood friend (Rachel McAdams) in the English-language debut of the director of Gloria and A Fantastic Woman.
With an array of prickly locals and the pictorial beauty of Cape Verde serving as backdrop, this amiable African odyssey of a son in search of his father is a breezy, Grogue-fueled delight.
Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) returns to the scene of the crime with this jaw-dropping, based-on-fact tale of a timid dog lover driven to terrifying extremes when he hitches his star to a human beast he cannot control.
A cult film in the making, Jim Hosking’s wildly absurdist follow-up to The Greasy Stranger stars Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement as small-town oddballs with best laid plans.
A country priest (Ethan Hawke) questions his faith after an unnerving encounter with a radical environmentalist in this searing thriller from the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.
Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont won the award for best first feature at Cannes with this empathetic, emotionally rich portrait of a 15-year-old trans girl who aspires to become a ballerina.
A suspended police officer assigned to dispatcher duty is caught in a web of intrigue in this pulsating Danish thriller, jam-packed with mystery and suspense despite never leaving a cramped emergency call centre.
Direct from Cannes where it shared the Best Screenplay award for its amazingly inventive script, Alice Rohrwacher’s seductive rural fable applies fairy-tale logic to explore the troubled soul of Italy.
Set in the conservative Afrikaner farming country of South Africa’s Free State, this brooding drama pits the teenaged son of a deeply religious family against the adopted brother he believes will usurp him.
Financial crisis proves to be the crack that lets the light into the lives of a high-living lesbian couple, together for 30 years, in this superb first film from Paraguay. Winner, Best Actress Award, Berlin Film Festival.
The film that opened the first Auckland International Film Festival is a Scandinavian classic, an intense, superbly acted portrait of a self-dramatising young writer and the late 19th-Century society he rejects.
Le livre d’image
The latest essay film from Jean-Luc Godard, still going strong, is a dense yet intellectually dexterous vision board on cinema, image-making and the state of the world.
Led by powerful turns from Adel Karam and Kamel El Basha (awarded Best Actor at Venice), this engrossing Oscar-nominated courtroom drama explores the nature of conflict with explosive results.
In den Gängen
Franz Rogowski (Victoria, Transit) and Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann) head a superb cast in this tender, lyrical film about friendship and romance on the night shift in a wholesale market.
Shot without permits in Afghanistan, this spectacular and powerful redemption drama from the director of Son of a Lion brings a needed fresh perspective to conflict in the Islamic world.
Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd are perfectly cast in this romcom, based on Nick Hornby’s novel about an indie rock obsession that leads to romance.
Two autistic adults strike up a transformative relationship in Rachel Israel’s charming comedy, based on the romantic adventures of her unlikely star.
It’s Halloween and Jake wants to be Rapunzel. Claire Danes and Jim Parsons are sensational as a Brooklyn couple with divergent responses to their four-year-old’s ‘gender-variant play’ in Silas Howard’s comedy-drama.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is riveting as a teacher and aspiring poet thrown off kilter by the conviction that only she can guard and nurture the lyric talent of a gifted five-year-old student.
A grieving couple take an interest in the withdrawn young man their son drowned saving in this emotionally intense, but deftly measured drama from South Korea.
Anchored by deeply lived-in performances from Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and newcomer Charlie Plummer, Lean on Pete is a profoundly moving account of life on the margins of America.
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) and Lily James are terrific as adoptive sisters running pharmaceuticals across the border to keep their heads above water in this gripping backwoods thriller from writer/director Nia DaCosta.
With intricate storytelling and exquisite imagery, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat considers the life and enduring power of Oum Kulthum, ‘the voice of Egypt’, widely considered the Arab world’s greatest vocalist.
In a role written with her director husband, Brazilian actress Karine Teles (The Second Mother) is utterly captivating as a full-time wife, sister, aunt, and mother (of four) with chaos management skills to match.
After an idiosyncratic career of iconic roles for everyone from Wim Wenders to David Lynch, the late Harry Dean Stanton hangs up his hat with this wryly funny, affecting character study.
“Panos Cosmatos’ follow-up to Beyond the Black Rainbow is a gloriously lurid mock-80s revenge quest that aims a raging, roaring Nicolas Cage at villains from another dimension.” — Katherine McLaughlin, Sight & Sound
Chloë Grace Moretz delivers a heartbreaking and nuanced performance as a queer teen shipped off to a gay conversion camp in Desiree Akhavan’s touching drama, this year’s Sundance Grand Jury winner.
Moskva slezam ne verit
This Soviet-era favourite is a loving chronicle of the lives of three feisty provincial girls who emigrate to Moscow in 1958, tracing their romantic and professional lives through 20 years of friendship.
Tilda Swinton strides through four centuries of history, switching genders as she goes, in Sally Potter’s gorgeous, playful subversion of British Heritage cinema. With Billy Zane, and Quentin Crisp as Elizabeth I.
In this constantly surprising, exquisitely appointed drama, a young painter secures a residency at a large family estate in the Catalan countryside to study under the ageing artist and owner she suspects is her father.
When Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) receives a jigsaw for her birthday, it opens a surprising new avenue in her life and leads her to meet Robert (Irrfan Khan), an avid competitive puzzler who triggers a reassessment of her situation.
Dahong denglong gaogao gua
The great Chinese actress Gong Li delivers a performance of exquisite expressiveness as a young concubine in Zhang Yimou’s visually ravishing 1991 drama of defiance, deception and authoritarian power. In a rare 35mm print.
The sexual connection between a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman risks more than their respective marriages when they are caught together at the wrong place and wrong time.
Chloé Zhao directs “this poetic, laconic and ineffably beautiful drama [with] an unerring feel for its subject, a young cowboy struggling against his implacable fate in the American West.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall St Journal
Not the first film to unfold completely on computer screens, just the most exciting and emotionally resonant, this crime thriller takes us on a father’s (John Cho) frantic online search for his missing daughter.
Drawing upon the rich cultural traditions of Bali, this mesmerisingly beautiful film invites us into the magical and mysterious dream world shared by a young girl and her seriously ill twin brother.
Divine decadence in the south of France, this silkily sexy psychological thriller stars Romy Schneider, Alain Delon and Jane Birkin, France’s hottest young stars of the 1960s, and shimmers with cool jazz and mid-summer menace.
Sandome no satsujin
A twice-convicted killer stands trial for a third murder, though not all is what it seems, in this morally complex drama from the Palme d’Or-winning director of Shoplifters.
A melancholy thriller of love and limbo, the latest film from director Christian Petzold (Barbara, Phoenix) expertly blends historical fact with contemporary milieux in its tale of a German Jew who flees to Marseille.
A traditional family wedding in Palestine puts strain on the relationship between an old school father and his cosmopolitan expat son in this wry family drama.
In Paul Dano’s ace directing debut, Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal capture the cracks that occur in a marriage when a young wife kicks against the constraints of 1950s domesticity.
Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest follows a would-be writer’s reluctant return to his small-town fold, spinning an extensive series of encounters into a typically rich, wry, melancholic mood-piece.
Der Himmel über Berlin
Two angels watch over a divided Berlin in Wim Wenders’ visually astonishing city symphony from 1987 – restored 30 years later, under his direction, to look and sound better than ever in this glorious 4K presentation.
Kona fer í stríð
Iceland’s Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) winningly mixes absurdist comedy and tense thriller, with Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a fearless eco-warrior, juggling environmental action and foster motherhood.
Le monde est à toi
Isabelle Adjani is the safe-cracking matriarch and Karim Leklou is her son who longs for a Mr Freeze franchise and a quiet life in this Cannes hit, a rollercoaster crime caper from writer-director Romain Gavras.
Lynne Ramsay, director of Ratcatcher and We Need to Talk About Kevin, teams with Joaquin Phoenix for a startling, nerve-shredding thriller about a brutal hitman contracted to save an abducted teen.
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.