NZIFF Booklet

Films by Language

English

[CENSORED]

Sari Braithwaite

NZIFF guest, Melbourne archivist and filmmaker Sari Braithwaite’s provocative documentary is stitched together entirely from film footage cut by Australian censors.

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.

And Breathe Normally

Andið eðlilega

Ísold Uggadóttir

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.

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.

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.

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. This spectacularly original film opens NZIFF18.

Bisbee ’17

Robert Greene

History repeats itself in this lyrical, emotionally resonant doco on the centenary of the Bisbee Deportation, in which thousands of immigrant miners were transported into the New Mexico desert and left to fend for themselves.

Blaze

Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke turns director with this SXSW hit, a dramatic tribute to an Outlaw Country legend; both a love story and a requiem for a ramblin man, highlighted by singer Benjamin Dickey’s incredible turn as Blaze Foley.

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’.

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.

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.

Chulas Fronteras

Les Blank

A beautiful, timely restoration of Chulas Fronteras (meaning ‘Beautiful Borders’), folklorist/cine-poet Les Blank’s classic ode to Norteña music and the migrant culture that exists along the Texas–Mexican border. 

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 Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders

Joe Berlinger

Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost) revisits the infamous Clutter family murders to interrogate the history and the small Kansas town known to the world through Truman Capote’s bestseller In Cold Blood.

Desert Hearts

Donna Deitch

The landmark lesbian love story returns to the giant screen as vibrant, beautiful and celebratory as ever.

The Devil We Know

Stephanie Soechtig

Championed by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and consumer activist Erin Brockovich, Stephanie Soechtig’s documentary is an enraging portrait of corporate greed honed to get into your blood.

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.

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.

Eight Uneasy Pieces

The ‘Cinema of Unease’ is alive and well in this stylish collection of eight Kiwi shorts, taking us on a perceptive and soul-searching tour the length and breadth of the country.

Eldorado

Markus Imhoof

Markus Imhoof’s powerful doco combines agonising encounters with asylum seekers adrift and in limbo with a moving personal recollection of his own relationship with a refugee during WWII.

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.

The Field Guide to Evil

Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Can Evrenol, Agnieszka Smoczyńska, Calvin Reeder, Ashim Ahluwalia, Yannis Veslemes, Katrin Gebbe, Peter Strickland

A devilish omnibus of eight creepy folktales from around the world, featuring spine-tingling new films from the directors of NZIFF faves such as Goodnight Mommy, The Duke of Burgundy, The Lure and more.

Filmworker

Tony Zierra

This fascinating account of Stanley Kubrick at work from the point of view of right-hand man Leon Vitali offers rare insights into the elusive filmmaking legend – and the total dedication he inspired.

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.

Foreign Correspondents

This collection of accomplished and affecting short films shares stories made by Kiwis around the world.

Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable

Sasha Waters Freyer

“An unusually rich art-doc with an old-New York twang… Sasha Waters Freyer assesses the artist and the man in her documentary about photographer Garry Winogrand.” — John Defore, Hollywood Reporter

The Green Fog

Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson

Guy Maddin’s latest cinematic fever dream is a madcap medley of excerpts from Hollywood movies and TV shows, re-edited into a lost surrealist melodrama inspired by Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

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.

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 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.

In the Realm of Perfection

L’Empire de la perfection

Julien Faraut

The archival footage in this strange and striking doco-biopic documenting tennis hothead John McEnroe’s record-breaking 1984 season has lost none of its power to rattle and rouse.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Gabrielle Brady

Christmas Island’s notorious immigration detention centre is the focal point of this impressionistic documentary, beautifully and innovatively framed around the island’s workers, wildlife and dark past.

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.

Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible

Axel Grigor

This up-close, vividly illustrated career survey places one of the world’s most sought-after film editors (and key Baz Luhrmann enabler), Jill Bilcock, in the spotlight she so rightly deserves.

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.

Keep the Change

Rachel Israel

Two autistic adults strike up a transformative relationship in Rachel Israel’s charming comedy, based on the romantic adventures of her unlikely star.

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.

The Kindergarten Teacher

Sara Colangelo

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.

The King

Eugene Jarecki

Has America entered its Fat Elvis phase? Director Eugene Jarecki takes a road trip in the King’s Rolls-Royce, explores his question with celebrity passengers and Elvis experts – and records some fine musicians en route.

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.

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.

Le Grand Bal

Laetitia Carton

Filmmaker Laetitia Carton draws us into the beating heart of the traditional dance festival that attracts dancers and musicians from across Europe every summer to Gennetines in central France.

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.

Liquid Sky

Slava Tsukerman

Stunningly restored after years of neglect, the quintessential cult item of 1982 drills into a gender fluid New York New Wave club scene of fashionista warfare, hard drugs and extra-terrestrial visitation.

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.

Liyana

Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp

Affecting and uplifting, this beautiful hybrid of documentary and animated fiction tells the story of a young girl as imagined by a group of orphaned Swazi children. Recommended for audiences 10+

Looking for Oum Kulthum

Shirin Neshat

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.

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.

Madeline’s Madeline

Josephine Decker

Bracingly fresh and riotously entertaining, this portrait of a talented young actress torn between her overbearing mother and an ambitious director stars Miranda July, Molly Parker and striking newcomer Helena Howard.

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.

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.

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.

Michael Smither: Of Crimson Joy

Tony Hiles

Filmmaker Tony Hiles observes his friend Michael Smither, the painter, composer – and, in this film, singer too – as he rethinks work he deems unsuccessful and finds consolation and inspiration in poetry.

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.

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.

Monterey Pop

D.A. Pennebaker

The first true rock-doc – and still the best – blazes with breakout performance from Hendrix, Joplin, The Who, Otis Redding, The Animals and more. Looking and sounding better than ever in this 50th anniversary 4K restoration.

A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot

Sinéad O’Shea

Executive produced by Joshua Oppenheimer, journalist Sinéad O’Shea’s film explores the repercussions of one woman’s fateful decision in a corner of Ireland where gangsterism and politics are indistinguishable.

New Zealand’s Best 2018

Help give the year’s best New Zealand short films the homegrown recognition they deserve by voting for your favourite at these screenings.

Nico, 1988

Susanna Nicchiarelli

The last years and final performances of legendary singer Nico – who did not want to be remembered as Lou Reed’s femme fatale – are brought vividly to the screen by Danish actress Trine Dyrholm.

Orlando

Sally Potter

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.

Our New President

Maxim Pozdorovkin

Maxim Pozdorovkin’s satirical documentary, fabricated entirely from Russian propaganda and YouTube videos, dives headfirst into the world of fake news – and Russia’s blind love for Donald Trump.

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

Piercing

Nicolas Pesce

Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) directs Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska in this stylish, fiendishly audacious murder ballet. Based on Murakami Ryu’s cult novel.

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.

Rafiki

Wanuri Kahiu

Fresh and brave, Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu’s tender, exuberant teenage lesbian coming-out tale has been banned in Kenya and celebrated in Cannes.

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.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

Muayad Alayan

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.

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

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.

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+

A Sculptor’s Journey

Jeff McDonald

Sculptor Sabin Howard enlists the technical expertise of the whizzes at Weta Workshop to help envision a massive WWI sculpture he has been commissioned to design for Washington DC.

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.

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.

Sign O’ the Times

Prince

Thirty years after its Film Festival debut, Prince’s legendary concert movie escapes music rights limbo just in time to make the perfect late addition to our lineup.

Skate Kitchen

Crystal Moselle

The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle returns with a free wheeling, often funny fiction debut about young female skateboarders in New York City, featuring real-life crew Skate Kitchen.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

We the Animals

Jeremiah Zagar

A beautifully photographed, captivating expression of hardscrabble family life and a sensitive boy’s growing self-awareness, this inspired adaptation of a remarkable book evokes memory and imagination in equal effect.

What Keeps You Alive

Colin Minihan

Surrounded by breathtaking scenery and cold-blooded betrayals, wives Jackie and Jules attempt to celebrate – and survive – their one-year anniversary in this slick horror-thriller.

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.

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.

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.

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.