Apart from a wealth of international film gathered from exhaustive (and exhausting) trawling of other festivals and entries submitted, this year’s NZFF features good breadth and depth of local work.
Bill Gosden and the team have again done an impressive job of ferreting out international fare to provide an enormous depth of opportunity to experience films from far and near, many of which might not be seen here outside a festival release.
Last night, Aucklanders got their first look at the programme at the festival launch, held at one of the city’s screening venues, the Rialto.
But, with an 80 page programme containing 137 features, plus 29 short animated films and 22 shorts in the Homegrown programme, plus another 6 shorts screening with features, where to start?
Well, by (largely) ignoring the foreigners, for this article at least.
The ‘biggest’ NZ feature of the festival is Predicament, and it gets slightly bigger billing in Wellington (where it will get its world premiere, opening the festival on 16 July) than in Auckland (where it closes the festival on 24 July).
The Jason Stutter (Diagnosis Death, Tongan Ninja) film is an adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s novel (following adaptations The Scarecrow Sam Pillsbury, 1981; Pallet on the Floor Lynton Butler, 1984; and Came a Hot Friday Ian Mune, 1985).
Stutter also has short Careful with That Crossbow screening in the Works on Film strand of the Homegrown section of the festival.
The ‘Auckland Erupts’ thread features five world premieres of films made in Auckland, so northerners can hardly complain about missing out on being first to see Predicament.
Showing will be
- After The Waterfall, Simone Horrocks
- The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell, Brendon Donovan (Insider’s Guide to Love, Insider’s Guide to Happiness)
- The Insatiable Moon, Rosemary Riddell
- Russian Snark, Stephen Sinclair
- Wound, David Blyth (Angel Mine, Death Warmed Up, Grampire)
Documentaries are even better represented than drama features, with nine making the cut:
- Gordonia, Tom Reilly
- Asylum Pieces, Kathy Dudding
- Salam Rugby, Faramarz Beheshti
- Gordon Crook: A Life in Art, Clare O’Leary
- Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and Other Stories, Tim Rose
Previously announced local docos include Clive Neeson’s Last Paradise, Robin Greenberg’s Free China Junk and Briar March’s There Once Was An Island. March also has short Michael and His Dragon in the Quirky Stories strand of the Homegrown programme.
A Dutch-made documentary also features, with distinctly NZ subject matter, in Suzanne Raes’ The Rainbow Warriors of Waiheke Island.
In the Animation programmes, Stephen Templer’s Nightclub screens in the Animation for Kids programme; James Cunningham’s Slightly Fishy and Janette Goodey’s Rip, Drip, Tear both screen in the Animation Now programme.
Short films not screening in the Homegrowm programmes, but appearing ahead of feature presentations are:
- The Box, Peter Salmon (Beeswax)
- My Two Dads. Naomi Wallwork (Gordonia)
- This Is Not Dying, Naomi Paul (I Travel Because I Have To…)
- The Winter Boy, Rachel House (Honey)
- Zero, Leo Woodhead (Winter’s Bone)
Homegrown shorts also getting an outing ahead of feature presentations are Sam Peacocke’s Manurewa and Tusi Tamasese’s Va Tupuia
Moving offshore, Australia sees a decent spread of its fare screened including five features, two of which appear in the Incredibly Strange festival. Only one NZ feature (David Blyth’s Wound) crops up in that strand, so Australians are twice as weird as Kiwis.
David Michod’s Animal Kingdom, Gillian Armstrong’s Love, Lust and Lies and Julie Bertuccelli’s The Tree screen in the main festival; Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones and Christopher Smith’s Triangle in the Incredibly Strange strand.
Further afield, it’s hard to make selections simply because there’s so much good stuff. Chris Morris’ Four Lions, a “black comedy about four about Islamic suicide bombers” sounds too intriguing to pass up; and Canadian Xavier Dolan’s debut I Killed My Mother also screens here, just as his second feature Heartbeat leaves the Sydney Festival AU$60,000 richer than when it arrived.