NZIFF Booklet

Films by Country

USA

Amazing Grace

Alan Elliott, Sydney Pollack

Rescued from 45 years in legal and technical limbo, this extraordinary music film capturing Aretha Franklin in full flight deserves your respect – and the biggest screen and sound system possible.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

Ben Berman

In the world of magic, nothing is what it seems as a terminally ill magician prepares for his swansong – and the ultimate trick on the maker of this bizarre documentary.

American Woman

Jake Scott

A sweeping character study centred on a teenager’s disappearance – and a mother’s determination to live through the tragedy – in blue collar Pennsylvania. With Sienna Miller, Aaron Paul and Christina Hendricks.

Animation for Kids 4+

Animation is such an engaging art form – perfect for inspiring the wide-open imaginations of our youngest NZIFF audience members. Not that the inspiration stops there – these eclectic and entertaining films are sure to appeal to both the young and young at heart. — NM

Animation for Kids 8+

We again alternate big themes and existential musings with essential hilarity, showcasing 12 terrific short films from all corners of our big wide world. Certain to stimulate and charm both sharp young minds and indie animation-loving grown-ups. — NM

Animation NOW! Handmade

Drawings move, paintings come to life and puppets take the stage, one painstaking frame at a time.

Animation NOW! International Showcase

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 multicoloured, variously-shaped glories, there’s no better place to begin.

Apocalypse Now: Final Cut

Francis Ford Coppola

Welcome back to the jungle with Brando, Duvall, Fishburne and Hopper for Francis Ford Coppola’s final – and finest – version of the ultimate Vietnam War epic.

Apollo 11

Todd Douglas Miller

An essential big screen experience, this spectacular documentary utilises a treasure trove of painstakingly restored footage to show us the Apollo 11 moon landing as it has never been seen before.

Aquarela

Victor Kossakovsky

The elemental power and glory of water is captured with high frame rate, ultra-definition cameras in film artist Victor Kossakovsky’s spectacular visual documentary.

The Art of Self-Defense

Riley Stearns

One of the most buzzed titles from this year’s SXSW fest, this jet-black deadpan comedy deploys a killer ensemble of Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots to deadly effect.

Ask Dr. Ruth

Ryan White

As her 90th birthday approaches, irrepressible Dr Ruth, the famed American sex therapist, reflects on her life and career in a film as spirited as she is.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

Pamela B. Green

Blending archival footage with interviews from A-listers Ava DuVernay, Geena Davis and Agnès Varda, among others, Green’s fizzy doco dives into the birth of motion pictures, and the pioneering woman who was there from the start.

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Paul Downs Colaizzo

Jillian Bell (Workaholics, Rough Night) stars in this Audience Award-winning Sundance comedy about a New York slacker who takes up running in the hopes of getting her life back on track.

Crystal Swan

Khrustal

Darya Zhuk

Determined to follow the siren’s call of house music and escape the confines of her 90s Eastern Bloc existence, a young DJ’s aspirations are dented when she’s forced to prove the reality of a bogus job on her visa form.

The Day Shall Come

Chris Morris

Anna Kendrick plays a dysfunctional FBI agent tricking an idealistic preacher into plotting terror in The Day Shall Come, Chris Morris’ ballsy, very funny follow-up to festival hit Four Lions.

The Farewell

Lulu Wang

Deft and deeply felt, with a star-making turn from Awkwafina, Lulu Wang’s widely praised drama tells the story of a Chinese American family paying their last respects to a mother and grandmother who doesn’t know she’s dying.

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash

Thom Zimny

Springsteen on Broadway director Thom Zimny offers a defining, authorised documentary on Johnny Cash, capturing the icon’s singular voice as a musician while stripping back his legend to the most compelling essentials.

Hail Satan?

Penny Lane

From America’s satanic panic to the battle of the Baphomet monument, Hail Satan? is an eye-opening comedic romp exploring the good – and sometimes not so good – work of The Satanic Temple.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

RaMell Ross

This artful and poetic study of ordinary black lives from acclaimed photographer-turned-filmmaker RaMell Ross competed for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.

Halston

Frédéric Tcheng

The astounding career and chequered business history of the American design genius who revolutionised fashion in the 1970s are recalled in this fittingly epic new documentary from the director of Dior and I.

Inventing Tomorrow

Laura Nix

An empowering celebration of young thinkers channelling their energy, passion, creativity and super smarts towards serious environmental change, while navigating the inevitable doubts and insecurities of teenhood.

Jawline

Liza Mandelup

Charting the rise of aspiring star Austyn Tester, Liza Mandelup’s dreamy feature-length debut is a stranger-than-fiction portrait of wannabe online influencers. US Documentary Special Jury Award, Sundance 2019.

Koyaanisqatsi

Godfrey Reggio

As big as big-screen experiences get, Godfrey Reggio’s dialogue-free epic meditation on nature and man showcases a phenomenal Philip Glass score and stunning time-lapse photography from across the globe.

Lil’ Buck: Real Swan

Louis Wallecan

The worlds of street dancing and ballet collide in this energetic doco following the rise of the astonishing Lil’ Buck, who has toured with Madonna and collaborated with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Damian Woetzel.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Midge Costin

An ear-opening and revelatory history lesson on the unsung power of sound in cinema, Making Waves interposes fascinating interviews with dissected scenes to educate and exhilarate even the seasoned cinephile.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

Nick Broomfield

A deep dive into the myth of Leonard Cohen, the singer’s defining relationship with Marianne Ihlen, and prolific documentarian Nick Broomfield’s own personal connection to Cohen’s famous lover and muse.

Martha: A Picture Story

Selina Miles

Meet New York’s legendary-yet-unlikely street art photographer who influenced a whole generation of graffiti artists – and at the age of 75, is still capturing beauty on the fringes, with verve.

Meeting Gorbachev

Werner Herzog, André Singer

Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev gets his due in [Werner Herzog’s] engaging and touching valedictory to one of the most pivotal figures of the 20th century.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

mid90s

Jonah Hill

Actor Jonah Hill directs with dead-on authenticity and unruly spirit this throwback to ’90s skate culture, based on his teenage years as a troublemaking skater in downtown LA.

Midnight Family

Luke Lorentzen

With visceral immediacy and an unerring sense of compassion, documentarian Luke Lorentzen places us in the passenger seat of a family-run ambulance on the chaotic streets of Mexico City.

Midsommar

Ari Aster

Ari Aster’s buzzworthy follow-up to the terrifying Hereditary centres on an American couple whose festive encounter with Swedish pagan cultists slowly but surely descends into madness. Late confirmation.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Stanley Nelson

Stanley Nelson’s rich and multifaceted biography of legendary jazz musician Miles Davis delivers a clear-eyed portrait of the man behind the music.

Monrovia, Indiana

Frederick Wiseman

The small farming town of Monrovia, a stronghold of Republican voters and Midwestern values, is the subject of this quietly probing new documentary from the legendary Frederick Wiseman.

Mope

Lucas Heyne

Boogie Nights meets Pain & Gain in this tragic, oddly compelling story of two low-end porn actors who sought fame but gained infamy, all based on real events.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2019

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. Curators’ comments on each film appear in italics.

One Child Nation

Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

A frank documentary about the wide-reaching impact of China’s one-child policy, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang unearth the frightening reality of the regime they were raised under. Winner Grand Jury Prize, Sundance 2019.

Photograph

Ritesh Batra

A street photographer convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée in this sweet and tender romance that unfolds amongst the chaotic streets of Mumbai. From the director of The Lunchbox.

Port Authority

Danielle Lessovitz

Debuting writer-director Danielle Lessovitz weaves a boy-meets-trans girl romance about identity and belonging around the New York underground ballroom scene.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese.

Shooting the Mafia

Kim Longinotto

Veteran documentarian Kim Longinotto turns her lens on legendary photographer Letizia Battaglia, who reflects on a life lived to the fullest amidst violence in mob-controlled Sicily.

Song Without a Name

Canción sin nombre

Melina León

Replete with starkly beautiful black and white photography, this affecting arthouse thriller from first time Peruvian director Melina León is based on a real-life case of child trafficking.

Stuffed

Erin Derham

A fully rounded, elegantly observed documentary on the world of taxidermy, its dedicated practitioners and their empathy for the animals whose lives and beauty they lovingly preserve.

This Changes Everything

Tom Donahue

You thought #TimesUp was a new initiative? Think again. This Changes Everything is the rallying cry lovers of cinema, supporters of women, and those who just aspire to see a fairer, more equitable industry have been waiting for.

Walking on Water

Andrey Paounov

Octogenarian Christo wraps up a miraculous career with a spectacular network of fabric walkways over an Italian lake, in an oft-humorous closeup look at the process of creation, clashes of egos and perils of nature.

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Rob Garver

Wittily illustrated and packed with quotations from her film reviews (read by Sarah Jessica Parker), Rob Garver’s doco explores New Yorker writer Pauline Kael’s evolution from failed playwright and struggling single mother to critical powerhouse.

Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Matt Tyrnauer

A searing portrait of notoriously malicious lawyer Roy ‘don’t tell me about the law, just tell me who the judge is’ Cohn delves into the dark arts of American politics.

You Don’t Nomi

Jeffrey McHale

This shameless celebration of Paul Verhoeven’s much-maligned Showgirls explores the film’s complicated afterlife, from disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption.

Yuli

Icíar Bollaín

Moving between fiction and reality, and harnessing the power of both drama and dance, Cuban ballet dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta shares his life story, from a barely interested kid to one of the greats.