Festival Programme

Films by Title

A

Agent of Happiness

Arun Bhattarai, Dorottya Zurbó

“Agent of happiness” Amber sets out on a cross-country road trip surveying the satisfaction of the Bhutanese public, as this crowd-pleasing doco questions whether the Himalayan country really is the happiest place on Earth.

Alien Weaponry: Kua Tupu Te Ara

Kent Belcher

Even if you’re not a fan of heavy metal, you can’t help but admire Alien Weaponry. If not for their rise to fame on an international scale, then for being the first band of the genre to sing in te reo Māori.

All We Imagine As Light

Payal Kapadia

Direct from Competition in Cannes where it scored the Grand Prix, this radiant Indian drama follows two nurses looking for love but finding sisterhood in the vibrant, heaving 20 million plus populace of Mumbai.

B

The Beast

La bête

Bertrand Bonello

Léa Seydoux and George MacKay’s fatal attraction endures across space and time in Bertrand Bonello’s audacious Lynchian reflection on love and obsession, mixing sci-fi, melodrama, and horror across three different time frames.

Birdeater

Jim Weir, Jack Clark

This Australian debut marks the arrival of incredibly promising new directing talents as a bride-to-be tags along to her fiancé’s stag do from hell. An audacious, rollicking deep dive into power, control and the rituals of toxic masculinity.

Black Dog

Gou zhen

Guan Hu

An ex-convict finds redemption in the bond he forms with an unwanted mutt in Guan Hu’s dynamically shot and darkly comic Un Certain Regard Prize winner.

C

Crossing

Levan Akin

An aging aunt must voyage from her rugged Georgian home to cosmopolitan Istanbul in search of an estranged trans niece in this graceful cross-cultural panorama from Levan Akin.

Cuckoo

Tilman Singer

Equal parts picturesque, creepy and batshit crazy, with a stunning performance from Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer in her first feature lead role, this riotous horror flick proves to be raucously entertaining and refreshingly unpredictable.

D

Dahomey

Mati Diop

In 2021, 26 plundered artefacts from the Kingdom of Dahomey are returned to the modern day nation of Benin. Mati Diop’s dreamlike documentary skilfully examines the debate surrounding the repatriation of stolen cultural treasures.

Days of Heaven

Terrence Malick

Reclusive auteur Terrence Malick’s sophomore effort, beautifully restored in 4K, is a bewitching, visually ravishing pre-World War I fable of passion and betrayal on the sun-drenched Texas prairie.

Dìdi

Dìdi (弟弟)

Sean Wang

Sensitive and funny, this semi-autobiographical film follows 13-year-old Chris Wang as he grows up in diaspora, flirting through AOL emojis and navigating family life, with beautiful small details that feel painfully realistic and true to life. 

A Different Man

Aaron Schimberg

Aaron Schimberg’s darkly comic feature from indie powerhouse A24 sees a man with facial tumours make a Faustian pact to change his appearance, only to discover good looks can’t buy happiness.

Dying

Sterben

Matthias Glasner

This triptych tale of a family in turmoil is equal parts incredibly moving and scabrously funny, Matthias Glasner’s award-winning drama may be called Dying, but it’s really a celebration of the messiness of life.

E

Evil Does Not Exist

Aku wa sonzai shinai

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi follows up his Oscar-winning film Drive My Car with a modern eco-fable that provides a gorgeous meditation on humanity’s relation to nature and an unnerving commentary on the price of progress.

G

Gloria!

Margherita Vicario

An energetic re-envisioning of Baroque music through the lens of the fiery female composers whose revolutionary work was concealed throughout history.

Grafted

Sasha Rainbow

Mean Girls  meets  Face/Off   to absolutely wild results in Sasha Rainbow’s gory and uniquely Kiwi black comedy about a Chinese student who finds a new way of achieving popularity one body at a time.

Grand Tour

Miguel Gomes

A runaway groom with his bride-to-be in hot pursuit takes us on an epic tour through colonial-era Asia in Miguel Gomes’s playful Cannes prize-winner which mingles the artificiality of classic cinema with a documentary sense of place.

Green Border

Zielona granica

Agnieszka Holland

Brutal, enraging and heartrending, Polish writer-director Agnieszka Holland’s controversial take on the Polish-Belarusian border crisis serves as a startling call to arms in the face of a little-seen humanitarian crisis.

H

The Haka Party Incident

Katie Wolfe

In 1979, group of young Māori and Pasifika activists sought to stop Pākehā students at the University of Auckland performing a parody of haka each capping week. Unfortunately, the consequences for those activists were severe – many were convicted of crimes. Director Katie Wolfe uncovers this largely forgotten event in our history with interviews from both in this resonant and thought-provoking documentary.

Head South

Jonathan Ogilvie

Christchurch-born filmmaker Jonathan Ogilvie returns home for this evocative coming-of-age story that brilliantly captures the feeling of growing up weird in the Garden City. Starring Ed Oxenbould, Márton Csókás and featuring Stella Bennett aka Benee in her acting debut, Head South will be our Opening Night film for the Christchurch leg of the festival.

The House Within

Joshua Prendeville

Filmmaker Joshua Prendeville’s sterling documentary holds a delicate lens to the fascinating life and work of one of Aotearoa’s literary treasures, Dame Fiona Kidman.

I

I Saw the TV Glow

Jane Schoenbrun

Gunge, goons, and girls with unbreakable psychic bonds are your new late-night obsession in this unsettling fable about what happens when you get offered a chance at a fantasy, but choose to settle for reality.

In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon

Alex Gibney

Paul Simon is that rare popular artist who has produced vital music across seven decades. Drawing on archives and intimate new footage, this comprehensive documentary examines the creative career of a lifelong seeker.

J

Janet Planet

Annie Baker

Acclaimed playwright Annie Baker ruminates on the evolving relationship between an 11-year-old misfit and her single mother during the summer holidays in this intimately observed debut feature.

K

Kneecap

Rich Peppiatt

Belfast’s own Beastie Boys become unlikely figureheads of the Irish Language Act in this madcap biopic of sex, drugs, and Gaelic rap.

M

Marimari

Paul Wolffram

Paul Wolffram’s urgent documentary takes us into the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea and one indigenous woman’s fight against the insidious influence of sanguma – sorcery violence.

Menus-Plaisirs - Les Troisgros

Frederick Wiseman

A quietly diligent examination of a family-run three-star Michelin restaurant in France, revealing minute details of a sprawling ecosystem as it unobtrusively traverses kitchens, dining rooms, suppliers, markets, cheese caves, farms, vineyards, and apiaries.

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line

Paul Clarke

Defying the traditional rock ’n’ roll narrative, this is the story of how a young Australian hard rock band developed a political conscience and brought their audience along with them.

A Mistake

Christine Jeffs

On the eve of a move towards greater public health data reporting, a medical error throws life into a spin for a respected surgeon and her surgical team; the downward spiral threatening all in her orbit.

The Monk and the Gun

Pawo Choyning Dorji

Is “political freedom” worth the cost of familial or social discord? When Bhutan’s king abdicates in favour of democratic reform, a strange series of events unfolds, where the old and the new collide in wondrous fashion.

My Favourite Cake

Keyke mahboobe man

Maryam Moghaddam, Behtash Sanaeeha

A lonely but fiercely determined 70-year-old widow takes second chance on love in this charming and funny yet politically subversive romance from Iran.

N

Never Look Away

Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless makes her directorial debut with a raucous documentary exploring the life of another warrior princess – fierce and fearless Kiwi war video journalist Margaret Moth.

No Other Land

Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor

Filmed in Palestine between 2019 and 2023, No Other Land is a documentary film performing its calling. An urgent and irresistible reminder as to why we choose to understand the world, and others, through cinema.

O

The Outrun

Nora Fingscheidt

Saoirse Ronan brings Amy Liptrot’s award-winning memoir to the screen in this ardently moving portrait of addiction recovery set in the majestic Orkney Islands of Scotland.

P

Paris, Texas

Wim Wenders

Starring the late great Harry Dean Stanton in his most iconic role, Wim Wenders’ newly restored modern classic delivers one of the definitive outsider views of America.

Peeping Tom

Michael Powell

Critically and commercially loathed and dismissed upon its release, championed and revived by Martin Scorsese, and now restored in a majestic 4K transfer, master filmmaker Michael Powell’s twisted, voyeuristic psychological thriller about a serial killer whose chosen weapon is a camera is even more alarming – and alarmingly prescient – than ever.

The People's Joker

Vera Drew

Vera Drew lays her soul bare with this fever-dream of a DC Universe parody that takes us through the trippiest and most monumental moments of her life and gender realisation.

Problemista

Julio Torres

Julio Torres makes a bold directorial debut with a bright, colourful and unique take on the American dream featuring a delightfully manic performance from Tilda Swinton.

R

The Remarkable Life of Ibelin

Benjamin Ree

Winner of multiple awards at Sundance this powerful and heartwarming documentary reveals an outwardly introverted gamer’s vibrant secret cyberlife following his death from a degenerative muscular disease.

S

Sasquatch Sunset

David Zellner, Nathan Zellner

A year in the life of a pack of mysterious Sasquatches unfolds as an eccentric mix of nature documentary and silent-era comedy in the Zellner brothers’ peculiar yet profound film.

The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Mohammad Rasoulof

A conflicted family implodes as protests spread throughout Iran, Mohammad Rasoulof’s courageous and urgent film delivers a bold middle finger to the totalitarian regime of his homeland.

Shambhala

Min Bahadur Bham

How far would you go to prove yourself? Pema, accused of infidelity, embarks on a journey through the beautiful yet unforgiving Himalayan landscape to confirm her virtue.

Sons

Vogter

Gustav Möller

A corrections officer sees her placid work life thrown into disarray upon the arrival of a new inmate, a mysterious figure from her past, in this sophomore feature from Gustav Möller.

Soundtrack to a Coup d'Etat

Johan Grimonprez

An electrifying assemblage of sound and image tells the story of a CIA-backed cold war coup in Congo – and the American jazz musicians weaponised in its cause.

The Speedway Murders

Luke Rynderman, Adam Kamien

First-time filmmakers Luke Rynderman and Adam Kamien present a stylistically unique and visually stunning feature that delves into the unsolved 1978 Speedway Burger Chef murders while shifting away from the traditional true crime documentary format.

The Substance

Coralie Fargeat

Direct from wowing audiences at Cannes, Coralie Fargeat’s magnificent shocker closes out this year’s Festival in style and lays down her marker to take the crown as the new queen of carnage with this wildly entertaining feminist body-horror feast.

The Sweet East

Sean Price Williams

A psychedelic journey through a warped America, this contemporary picaresque follows a high school runaway as she navigates oddities, dangers and delights on the road to nowhere, from cinematographer-turned-director Sean Price Williams.

T

Taki Rua Theatre - Breaking Barriers

Whetū Fala

What began as an experience in biculturalism between Māori and Pākehā grew into Taki Rua Theatre, the unofficial national Māori theatre company. As we tour the motu with the latest ensemble of young artists, we witness the deeply personal and politically visionary story of the 30-year struggle to create a truly bicultural force, and the wāhine toa who agitated for change.

Tatami

Guy Nattiv, Zar Amir Ebrahimi

An Iranian judo champ weighs her principles and ambitions against the safety of her family and herself as government forces threaten violence unless she tows the party line, in this riveting political-sports-thriller.

The Teachers' Lounge

Das Lehrerzimmer

İlker Çatak

Driven by a captivating central performance, this unsettling Oscar-nominated classroom thriller thoughtfully probes the grey area of student care versus culpability, and to what degree our systems promote or constrain our humanity.

W

We Were Dangerous

Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu

Earning director Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu the Special Jury Prize for Filmmaking at SXSW this year, this electric debut launches our festival with a fiery trio of delinquent schoolgirls railing against the colonial system in 1950s New Zealand.

When the Light Breaks

Ljósbrot

Rúnar Rúnarsson

A poignant and beautiful snapshot of grief that asks us, how can you know what to do when the light breaks on the day following a major tragedy?