It’s that time of year again- time to gear up for the New Zealand International Film Festival! Not content to warm the cockles of the hearts of one region in NZ, the NZIFF brings cinematic delights to Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gore, Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Masterton, Nelson, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Timaru and Wellington (dates of Festival and selections vary depending on region).
Without doubt, Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal is a magnificent venue in which to experience what the Festival has to offer, and it has risen like a phoenix rising from the ashes in post-quake Christchurch. After sustaining damage during the 22nd February earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) in 2011, the Isaac Theatre Royal was lovingly rebuilt and restored to glory (find out the history of the theatre here) and was fully equipped to bring the magic of cinema back into such a grand establishment. In order to accommodate the sheer number of cinematic delights on offer each year, Hoyts Northlands also holds a number of screenings during the Festival.
NZIFF brings the best of the world and Aotearoa to film lovers every year, and 2017 is no exception. Here’s some of our picks for the Christchurch leg of the Festival:
NZIFF is always a fantastic place to celebrate the creativity and energy of local filmmakers, and this year is no exception. Christchurch has the privilege of hosting not one but three films making their world premiere this year. Debuting at the festival are Human Traces, One Island of Good and Seven Rivers Walking- Haere Mārire, all of which have special connections to the Christchurch area. Kiwi filmmaker Toa Fraser has two offerings in the festival this year, the nail-biting hostage thriller 6 Days (starring Mark Strong, Abbie Cornish and Jamie Bell) and extreme sports documentary The Free Man.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Festival fave Florian Habicht is back with Spookers, a look behind the scares at the popular fun park occupying the former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital. After seeing the trailer at the NZIFF programme launch, it was hard not to be charmed by the many characters who bring the scares to life for eager patrons.
And one of the most eagerly anticipated Kiwi films has to be Gaylene Preston’s My Year With Helen, an intimate observational documentary as Preston follows former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark during her candidacy for the position of UN Secretary General. Both Christchurch screenings feature a Q+A with director Gaylene Preston at the end of the film.
Fresh From Cannes
Yet again the Festival brings the best of Cannes to Aotearoa with some hotly anticipated films. Fresh from receiving the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2017, Ruben Östlund’s The Square is satire at its best. Fans of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster can rejoice as he returns with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. Cinephiles get a double dose of Kidman and Farrell as both also star in another Cannes selection, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled. Other Cannes picks include Wind River, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless and Miike Takashi’s Blade of the Immortal.
Classic Cinema Experiences
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker
As if the amazing fresh picks above weren’t enough for cinephiles, NZIFF is bringing Christchurch fans to two incredible cinematic experiences from the past. A definite must-see is Andrei Tarkovsky’s newly restored post-apocalyptic classic, Stalker. If you’re a Tarkovsky fan but have never seen his work on the big screen, now’s the time. And finally, the incredible Christchurch Symphony Orchestra provides the live soundtrack for Christchurch NZIFF’s Live Cinema event, Buster Keaton’s classic silent comedy Our Hospitality. No doubt it will be an event to treasure.
This is just a fraction of what NZIFF 2017 has to offer, so make sure you head over to the website. There you’ll find the full programme, and if you sign up for My NZIFF you can build a wishlist for this year’s festival. Avoid timetabling clashes and build the Festival schedule of your dreams with the click of a button!
We want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone at NZIFF, the volunteers in every region, as well as the Christchurch team and the Isaac Theatre Royal for putting on a genuinely magnificent programme launch this week. We know the Festival is going to be a tremendous success this year.