NZIFF Booklet

Films by Title

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3 Faces

Se rokh

Jafar Panahi

“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

A

Ága

Milko Lazarov

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.

American Animals

Bart Layton

Rising stars Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) and Evan Peters (American Horror Story) lead this enthralling true-crime thriller that is as thematically probing as it is straight-up propulsive.

The Ancient Woods

Sengirė

Mindaugas Survila

Filmed over ten years by Lithuanian biologist Mindaugas Survila, this beautiful, meditative ode to the growth and abundant wildlife in an ancient, unspoiled Baltic forest contemplates its subjects without ever interpreting them.

Angie

Costa Botes

Angie Meiklejohn, prominent and articulate Centrepoint survivor, is joined by her siblings in this lucid exploration of the legacy of sexual abuse, directed without a hint of sensationalism by Costa Botes.

Animation NOW! 2018

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.

Apostasy

Daniel Kokotajlo

Himself a former Jehovah’s Witness, writer/director Daniel Kokotajlo provides an insider’s critique in this dramatic tale of mother and daughter torn between faith and instinct.

Arctic

Joe Penna

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.

Ash Is Purest White

Jianghu er nv

Jia Zhang-ke

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.

B

Beirut

Brad Anderson

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).

Birds of Passage

Pájaros de verano

Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

The ancient traditions of Colombia’s indigenous Wayuu are shaped by an ambitious matriarch to stake a place for her clan in the burgeoning drug economy of the 1970s.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

Alexandra Dean

Alexandra Dean’s debut documentary is a revelatory and entertaining portrait of an adventurous woman and talented inventor better known to the world as the embodiment of Hollywood sex and glamour.

Breath

Simon Baker

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.

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 a giant screen.

C

Capharnaüm

Capernaum

Nadine Labaki

A runaway boy sues his parents for bringing him into the world in this sprawling tale of against-the-odds resilience. “Nadine Labaki’s journey through the slums of Lebanon thrills with compassion and heart.” — Anna Smith, Time Out

Celia

Amanda Millar

Amanda Millar’s moving documentary celebrates the enduring legacy of Celia Lashlie, a passionate advocate for social interventions that equipped those long deprived of choice with the tools for responsible decision making.

The Cleaners

Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck

A thoroughly unnerving picture of our times, this gripping doco immerses us in the surreal world of the content moderators who decide what we see (or don’t see) on social media.

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.

Cold Fish

David Hay

A man who has lost all hope is trolled by a malevolent 11-year-old.

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.

The Crying Wind

Niamh Peren

Tenderness undercuts the tension in Niamh Peren’s movingly resolved tale of love, loss and orphaned lambs.

D

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.

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.

Dog’s Best Friend

Eryn Wilson

A surefire fix for animal lovers and a valuable sketch for skeptics, this warm doco from Kiwi director Eryn Wilson offers us intimate access to an Aussie rehab centre for troubled dogs.

E

El Ángel

Luis Ortega

Co-produced in style by Pedro and Augustin Almodóvar, this provocative true crime drama explores the short violent career of Argentina’s most infamous and longest-serving convicted killer, a baby-faced teenager.

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.

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.

F

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.

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.

G

Girl

Lukas Dhont

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.

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.

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.

H

Happy As Lazzaro

Lazzaro felice

Alice Rohrwacher

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.

The Heart Dances – the journey of The Piano: the ballet

Rebecca Tansley

This elegant new film from the director of Crossing Rachmaninoff takes us backstage at the Royal New Zealand Ballet as a brilliantly theatrical European interpretation of a New Zealand classic re-enters the culture that inspired it.

The Heiresses

Las herederas

Marcelo Martinessi

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.

I

The Ice King

James Erskine

The life and artistry of trailblazing Olympic figure skater and dancer John Curry are revisited in this timely doco which sheds light on his enduring legacy, featuring rare footage of his legendary performances.

If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd

Stephen Kijak

From the swamps of Florida to a tragic end in a plane that should never have taken off, Stephen Kijak’s doco follows the wild trajectory of the original band, archetypal Southern boys who rocked the 1970s.

The Image Book

Le livre d’image

Jean-Luc Godard

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.

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story

Jessica Leski

Bursting with colour, music and boyband adoration, Jessica Leski’s documentary is a celebration of women coming of age and navigating adulthood through the music and romantic appeal of their beloved boybands.

J

Jirga

Benjamin Gilmour

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.

Juliet, Naked

Jesse Peretz

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.

K

Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect

Mark Noonan

“Half biopic, half career showcase, Mark Noonan’s Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect examines the life and work of its titular Pritzker Prize-winning architect.” — Luke Maxwell, Dublin Inquirer

A Kid Like Jake

Silas Howard

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.

Kusama – Infinity

Heather Lenz

Now, at 89 years old the top-selling female artist in the world, Yayoi Kusama overcame family opposition, sexism, racism and mental illness to bring her radical artistic vision to the world stage.

L

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.

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.

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.

Loveling

Benzinho

Gustavo Pizzi

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.

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.

M

Mandy

Panos Cosmatos

“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

Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.

Steve Loveridge

From refugee daughter of a Tamil revolutionary and aspiring filmmaker to pop stardom and controversy magnet: this stimulating documentary about Sri Lankan musician M.I.A. dances to its own idiosyncratic beat.

Māui’s Hook

Paora Te Oti Takarangi Joseph

The new film by Māori psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph (Tātarakihi: Children of Parihaka) invites open discussion of suicide through the brave testimony of five grieving families travelling to Cape Reinga.

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.

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.

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.

Mirai

Mirai no Mirai

Hosoda Mamoru

Direct from Cannes, this charming For All Ages anime from Hosoda Mamoru (Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast) takes a richly imaginative toddler-eye view of a new arrival in the family.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Desiree Akhavan

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.

Mum Jeans

Anna Duckworth

A new mum struggles to find a balance between individualism and motherhood.

N

New Zealand’s Best 2018

Check out the year’s best New Zealand short films as chosen by this year’s guest selector Leon Narbey, from a shortlist drawn up by NZIFF programmers from a total of 84 entries.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2018

A collection of Māori and Pasifika short films curated by Leo Koziol (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka), Director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, with guest co-curator Craig Fasi (Niue), Director of the Pollywood Film Festival.

P

Paul Callaghan: Dancing with Atoms

Shirley Horrocks

Shirley Horrocks, cine-biographer of many notable New Zealand artists, delivers an invaluable survey of the work and legacy of one of our most exceptional scientists and public figures.

Petra

Jaime Rosales

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.

Pick of the Litter

Dana Nachman, Don Hardy

“Puppies rule in Dana Nachman and Don Hardy’s seriously cute account of the breeding and training program that prepares service dogs to become guides for the visually impaired.” — Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

The Price of Everything

Nathaniel Kahn

How did the contemporary art market become so lucrative? In this hilarious and unnerving documentary filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn (My Architect) elicits revealing answers from buyers, sellers, critics and the artists themselves.

Puzzle

Marc Turtletaub

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.

R

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.

S

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.

She Shears

Jack Nicol

Presented by Miss Conception films, who focus on female-led stories, this fresh dispatch from the heartland introduces two legendary shearers – and three in the making – as they head for black-shirt glory at the Golden Shears.

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.

Shut Up and Play the Piano

Philipp Jedicke

Rapper, piano virtuoso, performance artist, gifted collaborator or evil, smirking genius, Jason Beck aka Chilly Gonzales crowd-surfs the academy and puts on a hell of a show in the year’s wildest, funniest music doco.

The Song Keepers

Naina Sen

Director Naina Sen embeds with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir as they prepare a repertoire of Baroque hymns, taught by 19th-century Lutheran missionaries, and take it back to amazed audiences in Germany.

Speak Up

A voix haute

Stéphane de Freitas

The struggle and power in finding one’s own voice is celebrated in this inspirational doco as a diverse group of French students undergo intensive training for a prestigious public speaking competition.

Stray

Dustin Feneley

Two damaged strangers fall into a complex intimate relationship in Dustin Feneley’s beautiful and rigorous debut feature film, shot in Otago against the backdrop of the breathtaking Southern Alps.

T

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.

Transit

Christian Petzold

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.

W

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist

Lorna Tucker

A fast, funny documentary on the life, looks and times of the British fashion designer, business woman, environmental activist – and unreconstructed punk – Vivienne Westwood.

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.

Wings of Desire

Der Himmel über Berlin

Wim Wenders

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.

Woman at War

Kona fer í stríð

Benedikt Erlingsson

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.

The World Is Yours

Le monde est à toi

Romain Gavras

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.

Y

Yellow is Forbidden

Pietra Brettkelly

Kiwi director Pietra Brettkelly takes us into the opulent world of show-stopping Chinese designer Guo Pei as she prepares to make her Paris debut and seeks admission into the exclusive club of haute couture.

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.