NZIFF Booklet

Films by Section

Framing Reality

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Distant Barking of Dogs

Simon Lereng Wilmont

This searching, poignant documentary immerses us in the world of a lively ten-year-old boy and his loving grandmother living perilously close to the frontlines of the war in Eastern Ukraine.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Samouni Road

La strada di Samouni

Stefano Savona

A captivating portrayal of the human impact of the Middle East conflict, told with a deft mix of live action and animation, Samouni Road reveals the impact on one extended family of Israel’s brutal 2009 assault on a Gaza village.

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.

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.