Jun 292016


As per usual, the New Zealand International Film Festival is absolutely packed with an amazing variety of fantastic films. I have been lucky enough to see a fair amount of the films showing, so I’ve gone through the programme and picked 12 films I think are worth adding to your festival schedule. Check them out after the jump.


Paterson – Jim Jarmusch’s portrayal of the everyday is quietly beautiful. It revels in routine and the small moments that distinguish one day from another. This is a film that has grown on me the more I have thought about it.

Toni Erdmann – One of the most absurd films I have seen of late. Amazingly, the German humour translates well and the jokes hit fast and often. There’s more than laughs here though, there is also a lot of heart. Contains two of the best performances of the year.

Life, Animated – Every festival needs at least one inspiring documentary that makes you cry, and this is my pick for your schedule this year. This film is enlightening, uplifting, and very funny. The animation woven through the film (which tells Owen’s story) is gorgeous.

Midnight Special – This is Jeff Nichols (who has never made a bad film) doing my favourite sort of Spielberg – kids in peril in a science-fiction setting. Full review here.


High-Rise – A particularly fitting film to watch now considering what is currently happening in Britain. It’s audacious, brash and rather intoxicating. One of the best soundtracks of the year.

Aquarius – Winner of the Sydney Film Prize and my personal favourite from Sydney Film Festival. The film grabbed me in the first 5 minutes and never let go. Sonia Braga is a powerhouse playing a woman with complexity, depth, and spunk.

The Red Turtle – This film is stunning. So quiet and yet, so vibrant. It is beautiful in its simplicity. There is so much emotion packed into the gorgeous animation and sweeping score. Warning: you will probably cry.

Chevalier – One of the best films about masculinity. So witty, and so on the nose. Effectively a movie-length pissing contest that exposes the fragility of men’s egos. Full review here.


A Perfect Day – You have never really understood how important one rope could be, or how hard it could be to get one, until you see this film. Set in a region we don’t often visit in film, it’s smart, funny, and surprisingly tense. Contains the best Tim Robbins performance in at least two decades.

Certain Women – In a similar way to Paterson, this is another quiet film that focuses on the uniqueness of the everyday. Beautifully shot on 16 mm in the stark, magnificent landscape of America’s Northwest. A scene involving a horse ride is a highlight for the year, and made my heart swell.

Weiner –  Behind the scenes of a political car crash as it happens. At the end of the film the filmmaker asks Weiner why he let them film it all, and Weiner just shrugs. It is dumbfounding. A fascinating examination of the current state of media and the cycle of outrage.Full review here.

Being 17 – All three leads are interesting characters with depth and flaws. It’s not hard to find yourself quickly invested in all of their lives. It’s a tender film with an enormous amount of emotional resonance. Set in the stunning French alps, the film looks amazing.

I have seen all of the films listed above. From the films I haven’t seen that are playing at the fest, I am very keen to check out: After the StormElle, The Innocents, Lovesong, Neruda, Sunset Song.