Jun 292014


So you’re in the Auckland region and you’ve bought yourself a couple of 10 Trip Passes for the New Zealand International Film Festival. The sheer number of incredible films on offer can be a little daunting and that’s where I hope to help. I’ve put together a 17 Film Programme (without clashes) which I think offers a little bit of everything good at the festival. That’s a film per day of the fest with some spare tickets from your two passes to play with. I’ve also provided a list of everything that I have seen and can recommend. Films I have reviewed are underlined and linked to. I hope it helps! Check out my recommendations and your curated 17 film programme after the jump.

So here it is Auckland – my film festival programme just for you. I’m going to assume you can drive and/or navigate public transport, and that you might take a sneaky 4 day weekend during the fest. Even if you can’t get those 2 daytime screenings during the week in, there are more than enough films during the weekend and evenings to take their spot. The festival actually kicks off on Thursday 17th with New Zealand film The Dark Horse, so if you want a glam night out you should considering adding this to your schedule.


This schedule is composed of films I’ve enjoyed, films I want to see and films which were rather unique viewing experiences. We Are the Best! and Pulp: a Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets (from NZ filmmaker Florian Habicht) are two films I missed at Sydney Film Festival which I regret not seeing. Both are musical, one a feature and one a documentary and both have been extremely well received. Don’t repeat my mistake by missing them! I’m also really intrigued to see what you all think Maps to the Stars, the latest weird and wonderful effort from David Cronenberg. Julianne Moore won best actress at Cannes for her performance in the film which explores the darkness of Hollywood. I haven’t liked much from Cronenberg recently, but he has a way of looking at the world which is quite interesting.

Carrying on the bizarre theme, I’ve added Iranian film Fish & Cat and Icelandic film Of Horses and Men to your schedule. Fish & Cat is a 2 hour + creepy thriller-horror which was filmed in a single take. That’s right, this entire film is one continuous shot. The director made a model of his set so he could figure out where the actors had to be in relation to the camera at any time. They practiced twice daily for 2 months before filming the final product. Not only is this quite the filmmaking feat, but the film is actually quite engaging and has a rather compelling story. It’s more than just a gimmick. Of Horses and Men is just flat out weird. I mean, I haven’t seen anything quite like it ever. It’s a film about the importance of horses in the lives of Icelandic people and focuses on one village and their relationship with their horses. This is hilarious – a true crazy, “what the hell am I actually watching”? sort of film. It’s also impeccably made and extremely well-acted. You have to see it to believe it.

I have put two films that are a tad….long on your schedule. One is Palm d’Or winner Winter Sleep and the other documentary At Berkeley. I don’t want to say too much about either film but I promise they are worth your time. Apart from having an incredible screenplay, Winter Sleep is set in one of the most stunning, most unusual places I have ever seen. It’s spellbinding just to watch the characters walk around the magnificent traditional Turkish hotel, built right into the mountainside. At Berkeley clocks in at 4 hours and is an observational-style documentary about the American education institution, UC Berkeley. The film basically gives you an invisibility cloak and allows you access to all manner of life on the campus – from classes, to protests, administration meetings and robotic testing. It’s truly fascinating and absorbing watching. Just make sure you have some [quiet, movie-friendly] snacks on hand.

I talk about why you should see Boyhood, Enemy, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Double and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness in the Wellington NZIFF post here.

Below I have listed all the films from the programme and  I have seen and can recommend. Films which are reviewed (a mix of full and short reviews , some on Letterboxd) are underlined and linked to. I’ll update the links as I catch up with my reviews, so check back or let me know if there’s anything on the list I haven’t reviewed that you’d like me to.

 Recommended viewing

20,000 Days on Earth
At Berkeley
The Double
Fish & Cat
The Great Museum
Human Capital
In Order of Disappearance
Jodorowsky’s Dune
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
The Lady from Shanghai
Love is Strange
The Lunchbox
National Gallery
Night Moves
Of Horses and Men
The Skeleton Twins
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Two Days, One Night
Winter Sleep

Enjoy the festival Auckland!

By Sam McCosh

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