NZIFF Booklet

Films by Must See

Staff Picks: Michael McDonnell

Being a programmer for NZIFF, I’m lucky enough to have seen a good portion of the selection already. The absolute highlight has to be La Flor. I’ll admit to some trepidation sitting down to watch a 14-hour film, but before long I was hanging out to see the next episode. Under the Silver Lake and We Are Little Zombies play similarly fast and loose with narrative conventions and are all the more enjoyable for it. It’s an extremely strong year for documentaries and amongst the most entertaining for quite different reasons are Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Martha: A Picture Story and You Don’t Nomi. Great titles from Cannes I’ve managed to see include The Orphanage, Song Without a Name and The Whistlers, while I’m looking forward to catching up on titles like Bacurau, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Sorry We Missed You during the festival. — Michael McDonnell, Programme Manager

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.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

Mads Brügger

What starts out as an investigation into the plane crash that killed UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961 soon spirals into something even darker under the direction of Danish provocateur Mads Brügger.

La Flor: Part I

Mariano Llinás

Spanning international espionage, torch song melodrama, supernatural horror and silent film homage, Mariano Llinás’ eccentric and expansive narrative epic is a Herculean film creation – and at 14 hours, a record-breaking one. Screening in three parts.

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.

The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, Jennifer Kent’s brutal revenge saga is an unrelenting reckoning with white male oppression – and not for the faint of heart.

The Orphanage

Parwareshgah

Shahrbanoo Sadat

A touch of Bollywood fantasy enlivens this moving story of a savvy Afghan teen living in a Soviet-run orphanage in the late 1980s while a destructive war rages through the country.

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.

Take Me Somewhere Nice

Ena Sendijarevic

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Rotterdam, this delightfully absurdist road movie channels Jarmusch and Kaurismäki in telling the story of a young woman visiting Bosnia to find her estranged father.

Under the Silver Lake

David Robert Mitchell

Deadbeat slacker Andrew Garfield delves into the labyrinthine mysteries of La La Land on the hunt for a missing girl in David Robert Mitchell’s oddball neo-noir thriller.

We Are Little Zombies

Nagahisa Makoto

Four teenage orphans form a kick-ass band to express their emotions and end up taking the world by storm in this visually dazzling triumph from first time director Nagahisa Makoto.

The Whistlers

La Gomera

Corneliu Porumboiu

Breathing new life into the Romanian New Wave, Corneliu Porumboiu crafts a rollicking genre movie set in sun-soaked Spain, where the best laid plans of a bent cop hinge on learning a secret local whistling dialect.

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.