Having already announced a significant amount of local fare for this year’s event, the NZIFF also confirmed a bumper crop of titles from Cannes just ahead of its launch in Auckland on Monday evening.
This year’s NZIFF will open with Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square, featuring Elisabeth Moss who also leads Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake: China Girl. The series gets a 350+ minute run out, with intervals. Moss’ fellow TOTL2-er Nicole Kidman picks up some extra shifts at the festival, appearing in three of the four titles which premiered at Cannes this year. As well as TOTL, the NZIFF has Kidman (and Colin Farrell) both in Sofia Copploa’s The Beguiled (pictured, top) and The Killing of a Sacred Deer from Yorgos Lanthimos, whose divisive The Lobster opened the NZIFF in 2015.
Beyond, obviously, the titles all being new this year, the programme looks like business as usual in many ways. There are more titles from the US than anywhere else, several titles (from lots of places) that have been winning plaudits and gongs since their late 2016 and early 2017 premieres at festivals overseas, and more reworking of the idea of which Korean director Hong Sang-soo has never tired – that middle-aged men like fucking younger women.
There are five titles from seven African countries this year, including Rungano Nyoni’s Directors’ Fortnight-premiered I Am Not a Witch. The count is a very positive showing from a continent regularly under-represented at film festivals. Denmark-based expat Daniel Borgman (The Weight of Elephants) returns with Loving Pia, produced by partner Katja Adomeit who also produced Shahrbanoo Sadat’s 2016 Directors’ Fortnight-winner Wolf and Sheep.
There’s a good crop of NZ titles (thanks, NZFC and Resene) from other directors, some of which were even shot here – the films, not the directors.
Having seen the first-look announcement from Fantasia earlier this month, this year’s Incredibly Strange line-up looks a little tame – although there is a Secret Screening, which might well beef things up. The Australian selection in the line-up, Ben Young’s Hounds of Love, brings Pork Pie’s Aussie import Ashleigh Cummings back to NZ screens.
The festival has separated its Animation NOW! strand into a semi-separate event, the NZ International Animation Film Festival (NZIAFF), running the week ahead of the festival’s opening in Auckland. The dates fall within the school holidays, so it feels a bit odd that the animation programmes for kids are running within the “main” festival, after the schools go back.
For Aucklanders who object to the City Council’s continuing highway robber approach to parking charges in the CBD, the good news is that this year they can take advantage of bigger programmes at suburban venues.
There is, as always, such a broad selection of titles that there’s bound to be something to excite almost everyone. The festival has also launched its own VOD platform, currently with a selection of previous NZIFF selections by NZ directors, which will further extend the festival’s reach.
The NZIFF’s Cannes-premiered titles are announced here. The festival’s Auckland programme is now live. Capitalistas get the first look at the Wellington line-up tomorrow (Thursday) evening. The 2017 edition of the NZIFF opens in Auckland on 20 July.