Announcing 12 New Zealand films screening at NZIFF 2021

Announcing 12 New Zealand films screening at NZIFF 2021

Homegrown features films join the NZIFF 2021 line-up

An impressive 12 feature-length New Zealand films have been selected to screen at the film festival this year ... with more to come!

Portraits of disruptors and change-makers, explorations of cures for climate change and cancer, reflections on revolutionary moments of modern history, and tales of deep-seated traditions are just some of the themes explored by the films to screen at the festival.

“NZIFF has a long history of supporting New Zealand filmmakers and we’re extremely proud to provide a platform that brings their world-class films to audiences around Aotearoa,” – NZIFF Director Marten Rabarts.

The New Zealand films announced today include eight documentaries, two dramas and two retrospective films, and seven films will have their world premieres at NZIFF 2021, including Michelle Savill’s drama Millie Lies Low, while Jan Oliver Lucks' There Is No I in Threesome has its theatrical world premiere following its critically acclaimed US premiere on HBO Max. 

The line-up of documentaries spans an examination of the legacy of artist Theo Schoon, a profile of “Super Samoan” MMA fighter Mark Hunt, the story of how women made a stand against nuclear proliferation and changed the world, alongside a sensitive study of a Japanese town steeped in the tradition of whaling can adapt to a post-whaling world, a personal experience of break-through cancer immunotherapy treatment, a journey back in time when Polynesian voyagers navigated the vast Pacific, and a look at the significance of rohe kōreporepo ecosystems to our wellbeing, environment, and mana.

The two retrospective films see a brand new colourised version of modern cult classic Woodenhead unveiled, and a restored and remastered version of Merata Mita's landmark film Patu! will screen to mark 40 years since the 1981 Springbok Tour.

The confirmed New Zealand films for 2021 so far are:

A Mild Touch of Cancer
Successful businessperson, comedian and author David Downs had just months to live when he entered a clinical trial of an innovative cancer treatment in the U.S. Within weeks, he was in complete remission, and two years later he is deemed cured. Now, he has dedicated himself to helping New Zealanders around the country face their own cancer journeys. We follow their stories of life and death.

Ayukawa: The Weight of a Life

How does a small Japanese whaling town adapt to a post-whaling world? In this sensitive study, local inhabitants reflect on the decline of local industry and the devastating tsunami that hit Ayukawa in 2011.

Fiona Clark: Unafraid

Photographer Fiona Clark shocked 1970s New Zealand with her documentary images of Auckland’s burgeoning queer scene. The pictures they tried to ban were just the beginning for one of Aotearoa's photography greats.

Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life

After overcoming a challenging childhood, ‘Super Samoan’ fighter Mark Hunt went on to achieve professional and personal success in the world of mixed martial arts, battling for justice in a sport known to be riddled with drug cheats. Hunt fought to achieve fairness in one of the most challenging and high-profile sports in the world, whilst tackling his personal demons to become the man and father that he is today.

Millie Lies Low
A broke and anxiety-ridden architecture grad misses her flight to New York for a prestigious internship. She decides to fake having made it to New York, while laying low in her hometown, scrounging for another ticket.

Mothers of the Revolution
Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a committed stand against nuclear proliferation. Minimised by the media, the film reveals the women as the Cold War heroes they were, who persisted in the face of arrests, condemnation, and scorn, took on a superpower, and changed the world.

Patu! (NZIFF 2016)
Forty years on from the 1981 Springbok tour, Merata Mita's landmark film has been restored and remastered. The film is a startling record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand in protest of the South African rugby tour.

Rohe Kōreporepo – The Swamp, the Sacred Place
Rohe Kōreporepo the Swamp the Sacred Place, examines the delights of restoring our intimate relationships with rohe kōreporepo/wetland, underscoring the importance of these valuable and diverse ecosystems to our wellbeing and environment. Could restoring our repo hold the key to unlocking our climate crisis and revitalising our health and mana?

Signed, Theo Schoon
Art historian and filmmaker Luit Bieringa (Ans Westra: Private Journeys/Public Signposts, The Man in the Hat) re-examines the life and career of Dutch immigrant artist Theo Schoon. In the context of New Zealand’s culture in the second half of the 20th century, Schoon rocked our world with his outsider's gaze. For all the debate that has surrounded his legacy, in this film portrait, the complex artist is allowed to speak for himself through archive radio, tv and national film unit sources.

There Is No I in Threesome
In love, newly engaged and maintaining a long-distance relationship, director Jan Oliver Lucks and his fiancée decide to throw traditional rules out the window by opening up their relationship before they tie the knot. What could go wrong? This is a film about polyamory that isn't quite what it seems.

Whetū Mārama – Bright Star
Polynesians were the greatest voyagers on earth, sailing the vast Pacific by the stars. However, their ancient art of navigation was lost for 600 years, until the stars realigned and three men from far flung islands – a Hawaiian, a Micronesian and a Māori – met by chance. Together they revived past practices, restoring their people’s place as the greatest navigators on the planet.

NZIFF premieres a colourised version of Florian Habicht’s debut feature, Woodenhead (NZIFF 2003). Filmed in Northland’s lush forests and spartan hill country, Woodenhead conjures a unique, fairy-tale-like realm. Gert, an innocent rubbish-dump worker, is charged with the task of delivering Princess Plum, the ethereal daughter of his master Hugo, to her wedding in Maidenwood. Their journey through the grandeur of New Zealand’s landscape is beset with strange events.

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