NZIFF Booklet

Films by Must See

Staff Picks: Sandra Reid

A maximum of 12 picks obligatorily narrows down the list of the many films that have wowed me over the past 12 months – starting with Maiden, Amazing Grace, and most recently Portrait of a Lady on Fire and La Belle Époque (the latter two from our fab Cannes line-up). I don’t want to exclude any of them. Faced with this dilemma, my picks, listed in alphabetical order, are an opportunity to highlight a few titles striking for their formal approach or content, or their freshness, which may not be so obvious in our line-up, along with documentaries and an animated film that have left a lasting impression. These are complemented by two features from New Zealand and Australia I’m very much looking forward to seeing (but this is no indication that I’m not looking forward to also seeing Judy & Punch and so much more). And a delirious tale involving a murderous dress. — Sandra Reid, Programmer

Adam

Maryam Touzani

Set in Casablanca’s Old Medina, this nuanced tale of female solidarity transcending temperamental difference captivates through the richly detailed performances of two superb actresses.

Angelo

Markus Schleinzer

An arresting, crisply detailed period drama examining the legacy – and tainted freedom – of an African slave integrated into Viennese high society. Based on a true story.

Bellbird

Hamish Bennett

Marshall Napier, Cohen Holloway and Rachel House shine in Hamish Bennett’s beautifully judged, poignantly funny drama of life and community on a struggling Northland family dairy farm.

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.

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.

Dark Suns

Soleils noirs

Julien Elie

This striking black-and-white documentary criss-crosses Mexico, unearthing grassroots tales of grief, resilience and determined resistance in the wake of a decades-long drug war and political corruption.

For Sama

Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

Shot over five years, Waad al-Kateab’s intimate, Cannes award-winning film addresses her baby daughter and delivers a harrowing account of the war in Aleppo, the devastation wrought on the city, its people and children.

In Fabric

Peter Strickland

A cross between Suspiria and an old Farmers catalogue, the latest from retro genre stylist Peter Strickland, centring on a demonic dress at a posh department store, gleefully satirises fashion and consumerism.

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.

Push

Fredrik Gertten

As rocketing urbanisation collides with stagnant wages and a lack of affordable housing around the world, Fredrik Gertten’s clarion call to arms shows how global finance giants turn homes into assets.

Ruben Brandt, Collector

Ruben Brandt, a gyűjtő

Milorad Krstić

Boasting batshit surreal imagery, fist-pumping action sequences and a wall-to-wall shrine of art and cinema references, Ruben Brandt, Collector is a new milestone for animated invention.

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.