The 150+ title selection offered a mix of expected, anticipated and enticing titles to its guests in Auckland on Monday evening.
There were some surprises omissions in the mix, such as Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then, but one of the titles many hoped to see last year, Naji Abu Nowar’s much-awarded 2014 Theeb, is in the line-up this year.
The 23-title selection from Cannes is a strong one this year, led by Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake. Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Cannes-premiered Aquarius, winner of the headline award at the Sydney Film Festival last weekend, is also named. In the Cannes mix is the festival’s sole Korean title, Handmaiden, by Big Screen Symposium speaker Park Chan-wook.
Among the very large American selection is last year’s Horizons winner in Venice from NZ-resident Jake Mahaffy, Free in Deed, on which Mahaffy presented at last year’s Big Screen Symposium.
In contrast with the 40+ American titles in the NZIFF line-up, festival programmers found slim pickings from Africa, with Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes (also premiered in Venice last year) the only feature chosen from the continent.
Of the films arriving with their makers, a couple address issues around disability. Expat Heath Cozens’ Doglegs offers one of the more challenging looks at such issues; Life, Animated, from Roger Ross Williams (whose God Loves Uganda won Doc Edge’s International Documentary award in 2014), offers a more Disney-focused look at one man’s way through life.
Tickets for the Auckland leg of the NZIFF go on sale from Friday 24 June. Wellington programme will be available from Friday 24 June and tickets on sale from Thursday 30 June. The NZIFF will run in Auckland 14 – 31 July; Wellington 22 July – 7 August; Christchurch 28 July – 14 August; Dunedin 4 – 21 August. Dates for other centres are available at nziff.co.nz.