For Aucklanders, all the 2014 goodness is now revealed, except why there’s a person apparently passed out in the bottom right corner of the programme cover.
If precedent is followed, there’ll be “not many, if any” further titles added as the programmes for other cities appear.
Such was the number and quality of titles the NZIFF announced pre-launch, one wondered what gems were being held back to allow the programme launch to deliver much interest beyond the arrival of the programme itself. But the NZIFF team wasn’t born yesterday and there were indeed new announcements, both expected and un, to look forward to.
The Usual Suspects
This year’s crop of expected arrivals was largely squared away by pre-launch announcements that covered much of the homegrown fare, titles from Cannes and from NZIFF friends and family, including Florian Habicht’s Pulp.
Added to that list now the full programme is shared are other titles one would expect to see: the year’s Berlinale winner (Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice), the obligatory selections from Iran (although not from that nation’s usual suspects), and a film set in a university from South Korea’s Hong Sang-soo.
The high number of American titles, also a feature of this year’s Documentary Edge Festival, continues. This year 40 NZIFF titles hail from the US, plus 11 more from the rest of the continent. The UK also has a strong presence with 18 titles.
Last of the Locals
In addition to the shorts already announced for the NZ’s Best and Ngā Whanaunga programmes another 12 shorts are added, screening before features. 10 are of Kiwi origin while a couple of international shorts (both available to watch online) are also in the mix.
Of the Kiwi shorts, Paul Neason’s Queenie had its premiere earlier this year at SXSW; two were made for last year’s Inspiring Stories Trust project (Komako Silver’s Bro’s Being Bro’s and Guy Ryan’s Oli Missen); and a trio of titles were funded under the NZFC’s Fresh Shorts 2012 round (Charlie Bleakley’s Coconut, Faye McNeil’s Pigeon and Alex Backhouse’s Unnatural History).
There are also regular 48Hours contestant Adam Reynolds’ Home and three films from winners elsewhere.
The Light Harvester comes from Jason Lei Howden, who’s currently in the throes of his Make My Horror Movie winner Deathgasm; Eloise is by Chris Todd, best known for his award-winning post sound work including a 1998 NZ Film Awards wins for Saving Grace and another for The Orator at the inaugural MOAs. The Handkerchief was almost a winner of Premiere Shorts support last year; its writer and director Linda Niccol also won Best Unproduced Feature (Miss Adventure) at the 2012 SWANZ bash.
The NZFC’s new-found interest in that region isn’t reflected in the NZIFF programme, which is a shame since a festival is a good way to legally acquaint oneself with some of the region’s best. What the NZIFF does deliver from the continent is a mix of the interesting if not necessarily successful (eg Snowpiercer), the niche targeted (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?) and the excellent (The Lunchbox) – among a total of 14 selections.
One of the challenges of the NZIFF or, indeed, any well-programmed festival is deciding which titles not to see because they’ll return post-festival and time, money or both are at a premium during the festival.
This year’s crop of Australian titles presents a particular challenge. There’s already one Aussie title not in the festival line-up but likely to see a theatrical release here (the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination). The eight titles named by the NZIFF represent a very strong selection of what the neighbours have been up to of late.
Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country was a prize winner in Cannes for actor David Gulpilil. David Michod’s The Rover has drawn great reviews (if lousy US box office), especially for former sparkly vampire Robert Pattinson. Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside delivers a cracking line-up of Australian talent including The Sapphires’ Deborah Mailman. The list goes on.
For those with strong bladders and patience, Cannes winner Winter Sleep and several other titles from that festival should satisfy. For those with strong bladders and strong stomachs who appreciated The Raid, fellow Toronto Midnight Madness winner Why Don’t You Play in Hell? will deliver blood and belly laughs galore.
For those who are impatient, the appreciation heaped on Pulp and Housebound at international festival outings must surely have whetted appetites.
Whatever one’s tastes, the NZIFF website’s Wishlist feature enables one to plan a couple of weeks of varied entertainment and babysitters.
The NZIFF runs in Auckland 17 July – 3 August. The programme is now online. Wellington gets its programme launch tomorrow.