NZIFF Booklet

Films by Must See

Letterboxd

Some of our members have been lucky enough to see a selection of films from the NZIFF 2018 programme at other festivals already—the first 25 listed below are (in order) the top picks from our community of 800,000 film fans at the time of the festival launch. (We’ve excluded the oldies, so all 25 are recent releases.)

The remaining picks are from our crew, and we can’t pass up an opportunity to mention the Quiz Show event we’re co-presenting at the Wintergarden in Auckland on July 28. See you there!

Minding the Gap

Bing Liu

This electric time-lapse portrait of three skateboarders dropping into manhood bears all the hallmarks of its executive producer Steve James (Hoop Dreams): empathetic, unsentimental and profoundly involving.

First Reformed

Paul Schrader

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.

Shoplifters

Manbiki kazoku

Kore-eda Hirokazu

This year’s surprise Cannes Palme d’Or winner is one of Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s finest films, about a loving, unconventional family making ends meet on the margins of Tokyo.

The Rider

Chloé Zhao

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

Cold War

Zimna wojna

Paweł Pawlikowski

Winner of the Cannes Best Director award, Paweł Pawlikowski (Ida) has crafted a brilliant, kaleidoscopic vision of 1950s Europe, bursting with music, dance and the turbulent love of two musicians caught between East and West.

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Frederick Wiseman

Standing in for libraries everywhere, the magnificent New York Public Library is explored and extolled in the great Frederick Wiseman’s latest ode to the importance of essential institutions in politically tumultuous times.

Burning

Beoning

Lee Chang-dong

A love triangle and mystery based on a Murakami Haruki short story, Korean great Lee Chang-dong’s (Secret Sunshine,  Poetry) latest was the best-reviewed film at Cannes, an unforgettable now-or-never must-see on the giant Civic screen.

Foxtrot

Samuel Maoz

An Israeli family wrestles with loss as soldiers at a remote checkpoint battle ennui in this daring, visionary tragidrama from the director of Lebanon. Winner of the Venice Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.

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.

The Wild Pear Tree

Ahlat agaci

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

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.

Dogman

Matteo Garrone

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.

RBG

Betsy West, Julie Cohen

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring her exceptional life and career.

Custody

Jusqu’à la garde

Xavier Legrand

“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

McQueen

Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui

This thrillingly flamboyant film explores British designer Alexander McQueen’s humble beginnings, his tight knit band of collaborators, his creative genius – and exalts the disturbing splendour of his work.

The Trial

O processo

Maria Augusta Ramos

In this searing close-up chronicle of the battle to impeach Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, Maria Augusta Ramos shines a light on the bitter divisions in a country where politics, commerce and corruption appear inextricable.

You Were Never Really Here

Lynne Ramsey

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.

Lean on Pete

Andrew Haigh

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.

The Guilty

Den skyldige

Gustav Möller

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.

Three Identical Strangers

Tim Wardle

‘Stranger than fiction’ doesn’t come close. In an age of hot takes and hype machinery, this mind-blowing doco is the rare WTF true story entirely worthy of its breathless hyperbole.

Lucky

John Carroll Lynch

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.

Brimstone & Glory

Viktor Jakovleski

From the team behind Beasts of the Southern Wild, this euphoric and immersive documentary drops us in the middle of a dazzling, dangerous fireworks festival with astonishing results.

Science Fair

Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster

Festival Favourite Award winner at Sundance, this immensely engaging doco shares the lively personalities and inspiring projects of nine teenage scientists as they converge at a major international competition in LA. Recommended for audiences 10+

Gurrumul

Paul Damien Williams

A soaring, evocative audio-visual journey into the life, culture and landscapes of one of Australia's most beloved singers – the late Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

Climax

Gaspar Noé

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.

Good Manners

As boas maneiras

Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra

Social satire meets secret love meets beastly fairy tale in this wickedly assured shape-shifter from Brazil. (To guarantee maximum viewing pleasure, avoid the year’s most spoiler-ridden trailer. Seriously.)

Leave No Trace

Debra Granik

New Zealand actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie is mesmerising as 13-year-old Tom living off the grid with her war vet father (Ben Foster) in this haunting new film from the director of Winter’s Bone.

Wildlife

Paul Dano

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.

Disobedience

Sebastián Lelio

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.

Bludgeon

Ryan Heron, Andy Deere

The armour is heavy and the stakes are high in this warm-hearted and charmingly offbeat documentary about a group of modern knights competing to represent New Zealand in the brutal sport of ‘medieval combat’.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Stephen Nomura Schible

The Oscar-winning Japanese composer (The Last Emperor; Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence), synth-pop pioneer, electronica experimentalist and environmentalist reflects on his work and influences in this intimate portrait.

United Skates

Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown

In Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s performance-driven doco, African-American communities across the US battle in a racially charged environment to save a vital roller-skate subculture.

Leto

Kirill Serebrennikov

An exhilarating exploration of freedom under restraint from a director under house arrest, this resonant, exuberant picture of musicianship and band life is based on the lives of two stars of pre-perestroika Leningrad rock.

Searching

Aneesh Chaganty

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.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

Jim Hosking

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.

Little Woods

Nia DaCosta

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.

McKellen: Playing the Part

Joe Stephenson

In this illuminating documentary portrait, Sir Ian McKellen looks back at the six decades of his glittering career, from his early success on UK stages through to his towering performances in film.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Heperi Mita

Merata Mita, pioneering Māori filmmaker and international champion of women in indigenous film, is celebrated by her youngest son, archivist Heperi Mita, collaborating with his siblings to deliver a richly personal portrait.

Mega Time Squad

Tim van Dammen

Writer/director Tim van Dammen’s follow-up to the trailer trash romance Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song is a wild smash-up of parochial Kiwi comedy and mind-bending time travel crime-thriller.

TERROR NULLIUS

Soda_Jerk

A controversy magnet across the ditch, this savage pop culture remix by art collective duo Soda_Jerk flies fearlessly in the face of Australia’s sanctioned history and national identity.