Our picks for NZIFF 2016

The New Zealand International Film festival , NZIFF, is in its 48th year, and has over 150 feature films and documentaries chosen from premier festivals in North America, Australia and Europe. To make choosing your schedule a little easier here are our picks for the 2016 festival.

I, Daniel Blake (Palme d’Or winner for Ken Loach)

I, Daniel Blake, winner of the Palme d’Or, will screen at NZIFF 2016 direct from its Cannes world premiere. This often funny and ultimately intensely moving tale of the friendship between an out-of-work Newcastle carpenter and a young single mother won for Britain’s Ken Loach a second Palme d’Or for Best Film at Cannes this year.

Poi E: The Story of Our Song – Directed by Tearepa Kahi

The world Premiere screening of Poi E: The Story of Our Song at the Civic Theatre in Auckland on 14 July. A joyful rendition of our national anthem – the one you can dance to. As irresistible as the song it celebrates, Tearepa Kahi’s documentary explores the many tributaries that flowed into the mash-up of pop music, traditional waiata and bop that first took New Zealand by storm in 1984.

Green Room 2015 – Directed by Jeremy Saulnie

Posthumous performance from Anton Yelchin who we sadly lost early this year Green Room is much like a nastier version of John Carpenter’s seminal Assault on Precinct 13, this is a classic wrong place, wrong time set-piece that takes well-worn tropes, amps them up to 11 and then stomps on their faces.

Safety Last! 1923 – Directed by Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema at NZIFF brings back the most thrill laden classic of silent comedy. Marc Taddei conducts Carl Davis’ original scores for Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! and his rarely seen short film An Eastern Westerner.

Swiss Army Man 2016 – Directed by Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan 

Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘farting corpse’ movie makes its New Zealand debut.

Gonzo directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan describe Swiss Army Man as a film about a suicidal man who has to convince a dead body that life’s worth living. Others have said it’s a fusion of Cast Away and Weekend at Bernies as directed by Michel Gondry. The fact the duo, collectively known as Daniels, have managed to turn that morbid premise into something so outrageously fun and deeply affecting is a testament to their wild inventiveness.

Personal Shopper 2016 – Directed by Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas shared Best Director Award at Cannes this year for his open-ended hybrid of ghost story, thriller and high-end sociological observation. Kristen Stewart stars – in almost every frame – as Maureen, a young American woman in Paris, unimpressed by her fashion-world milieu and haunted by the spirit of her dead twin brother.

Captain Fantastic 2016 – Directed by Matt Ross

In this energetic and touching dramedy, Viggo Mortensen kids his own image, playing an anarcho-survivalist solo dad. In a remote Washington state forest, he’s raising his six children to be super-fit in body and mind. These mini philosopher kings are equally confident stalking a deer, skinning it, critiquing Lolita, Middlemarch and The Brothers Karamazov, or improvising a musical jamboree around the campfire. Santa Claus is a joke to them, but they do get festive for Noam Chomsky’s birthday.

Midnight Special 2016 – Directed by Jeff Nichols

A masterful blend of road adventure, family drama, and science fiction, in which two estranged parents, the goons of a Jeffs-like cult leader, and the federal government are all after a remarkable child with inexplicable powers. As with his earlier Take Shelter, Nichols is using his large canvas to ask pressing questions about faith and belief, all the while acknowledging his story’s loudly ticking clock and relentless momentum.

The Eagle Huntress 2016 – Directed by Otto Bell

Thirteen-year-old falconry prodigy Aisholpan is ready to train her very own eagle to catch foxes in The Eagle Huntress – ending two millennia of Kazakh-Mongolian tradition that dictates this practice as the exclusive rite of men. Executive produced by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley, the film, set in the glorious remote Altai Mountains, follows Aisholpan as she bravely undertakes all aspects of ancient eagle hunting tradition.

Weiner 2016 – Directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

American politics is replete with bizarreness, but the story of Anthony Weiner takes some beating. The Democratic congressman hit global headlines in 2011 when a photograph of his genitals appeared on Twitter. Denials that he had posted the image quickly fell apart, along with his reputation, as numerous earlier dick-pic peccadilloes were splashed across the media.

High-Rise 2015 – Directed by Ben Wheatley

A savage and utterly brilliant satire of both 60s social idealism and the Thatcherite values that undermined it, High-Rise opens with a dishevelled man (the ever-sublime Tom Hiddleston) eating barbecued dog on the balcony of his trashed apartment, some 25 floors up. Director Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List) and regular collaborator and screenwriter Amy Jump tear into J.G. Ballard’s classic source novel with brutal gusto.

The NZIFF kicks off in Auckland 14 July until 31 July and then goes nationwide.

Synopsis and summaries sourced via nziff.co.nz

NZIFF 2016