The near and present danger of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon is the nerve-wracking backdrop to this expertly directed coming-of-age tale, centred on one boy’s all-consuming crush amidst the encroachment of war.
A celebratory showcase of some of the year’s best and brightest animated shorts. If you’re looking to sample the animation ecosystem in all its multi-coloured, variously-shaped glory, there’s no better place to begin.
“I’d never share a rope with him” is about as damning a comment as anyone can make about a fellow mountaineer. Sir Edmund Hillary’s words about Earle Riddiford in his last autobiography set the uneasy tone of this nuanced documentary by Earle’s son Richard Riddiford.
Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV (Western, NZIFF15) turn their instinctive, unblinking documentary lens on the patrons of a grimy Las Vegas bar enjoying one last round – a glorious snapshot of Americana that’s at once dark, moving and flat-out funny.
Dramatising the turbulence and ambiguity of custody battles with emotional precision and complexity, Charter focuses on a mother’s impulsive decision to abscond with her estranged children to a holiday resort, and the consequences of her actions.
“Algorithmic justice” is one of the most important civil rights issues today, says computer scientist and digital activist Joy Buolamwini, in this accessible and compelling documentary about artificial intelligence and the biased algorithms that power it.
The untold story of Baltimore club music is brought to ecstatic life against the backdrop of the city’s depression, and through the black and LGBTQI+ communities galvanised by musical expression, in TT the Artist’s bristling documentary.
This sweet and sour coming-of-age comedy smashed into Sundance with anarchy on its mind and a kickass soundtrack on its turntable. The bad boy-meets-good girl setup has been fodder for cinema for aeons, so it was about time someone took a chainsaw to the status quo.
The definition of a small but perfectly formed gem, the gracefully understated Driveways centres on a young Asian boy who develops a precious friendship with the lonely war vet living next door, played memorably by the late Brian Dennehy.
In this bright, affirmative lesbian teen rom-com, a girl awkwardly angles for the attention of her high school crush with a little help from the ghost of her aunt, a queer activist with a poignant history in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights.
In the increasing public discourse on mental health, Leanne Pooley’s inspiring and fearless documentary tracks an extraordinary young woman’s journey from suicide survivor to advocate for those struggling. The fact it leaves you hopeful and with tangible advice makes it vital viewing.
Vivid and strikingly objective, Zhou Bing’s in-the-field documentary covering both sides of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement examines the personal and political identities at odds in this ongoing conflict.
Ginevra Elkann’s lovely directorial debut, set in the early 90s and based on her own childhood, finds three siblings arriving in Rome from Paris on a visit to their unreliable father, where family tensions and spontaneous fun mix.
Jesús te muestra el camino a la autopista
Miguel Llansó’s sophomore feature is a glorious cherry bomb of outsider psychotronica. Grandiose and enjoyably nutty, no recent film has managed to excite about the future of independent cinema as much as this joyous everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to the ultimate conspiracy flick.
Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles, NZIFF12) harnesses extraordinary access and the boastful, unrepentant nature of her subject, Imelda Marcos, in this unsettling chronicle of ill-gotten wealth and political corruption.
Intrigued by cruise ships and the people who frequent them, Sophie Dros’ fascinating documentary focuses on an extravagant Scottish Baron whose love of luxury liners masks a very human need for affection and validation.
In this fresh cinephilic appreciation, French film critic Michel Ciment’s taped interviews with Stanley Kubrick breathe new life into the legacy of one of the most celebrated and studied directors of all time.
Prodigiously talented composer Jóhann Jóhannsson makes his posthumous directorial debut with an austere, hauntingly gorgeous sci-fi symphony voiced by Tilda Swinton and laced with sadness, wonder and hope.
An ancient doomsday prophecy haunts Australian lawyer Richard Chamberlain while freakish weather plagues Sydney in Peter Weir’s newly remastered murder mystery-turned-apocalyptic chiller from 1977.
Unpacking one of the landmark films of the 1970s, William Friedkin talks big on the secrets and success of The Exorcist in this stellar cinematic essay, framed around an epic six-day interview with the maverick director.
Director Anna Marbrook honours the last voyage of the great waka maker, sailor and mentor Ema Siope, whose journeys between Aotearoa and Sāmoa in search of healing, and her family’s reckoning with systemic abuse, are powerfully documented.
A belated and buoyant documentary portrait of Martin Margiela, celebrated for his trailblazing designs and humble, enigmatic persona within the flamboyant fashion world.
By turns comedic and Kafkaesque, this fly-on-the-wall doco observes the fortunes of Ramallah, an epicentre of Palestinian commerce and culture, and its tireless mayor, whose work to better the city is met with danger and frustration.
Defying family expectations and maternal norms, 63-year-old hairdresser Lou travels to start a new life abroad, settling on the Spanish port city of Cádiz, where adventures in language and friendship await.
A heavyweight drama elevated by two outstanding performers, Lars Eidinger (The Clouds of Sils Maria) joins Nina Hoss (celebrated star of Barbara and Phoenix) as inseparable twins fighting serious illness with their undying passion for the theatre.
Help give the year’s best New Zealand short films the homegrown recognition they deserve by voting for your favourite.
A collection of Māori and Pasifika short films curated by Leo Koziol (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka), Director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, with guest co-curator Craig Fasi (Niue), Director of the Pollywood Film Festival.
The saga of The Band, whose iconic farewell concert was immortalised in The Last Waltz, continues to captivate in this new documentary shaped from the perspective of guitarist-songwriter Robbie Robertson, only one of two surviving members.
Gymnastics, an unknown half-brother and a streak of petty crime set in motion a teenage girl’s coming-of-age in suburban Brighton in Eva Riley’s sensitive, spirited first feature film.
A female-centric, intergenerational haunted house story of the highest order, Relic takes the terrifying conceit of senile dementia and transforms it into a supernatural entity that engulfs sufferers and those who care for them.
Premiering their forthcoming web series as a special festival presentation, director Max Currie (Everything We Loved, NZIFF14) and writer Cole Meyers’ queer and trans-celebratory drama swells with character and heart.
A peek behind the curtain of the self-proclaimed “Disneyland for Retirees”, first-time director Lance Oppenheim’s humorous and bittersweet documentary follows four recent arrivals as they search for the American Dream.
The Steelers journey to compete in the World Cup of gay rugby in this hopeful yet emotionally honest sports documentary about playing for pride, whoever your team is.
In this fiery conversation starter, tough ethical quandaries agitate the sophisticated New York lives of three friends, whose best intentions behind a surrogate pregnancy are complicated when nature intrudes.
From Sir Sydney Nolan’s epic paintings to Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Ned Kelly has come a long way to find himself thundering on horseback across a barren moonlit landscape, dressed only in boots and a flowing lace frock, in this dazzling postmodern version of the outlaw legend.
After conquering Cannes with Shoplifters, Japanese auteur Kore-eda Hirokazu breathlessly transposes his beloved cinema of families, food and slow-burning truths to Paris, with an all-star cast led by two doyennes of the French silver screen.
Lala Rolls’ fascinating quest to examine what happens to a Tahitian high priest and navigator when he travels across the pacific – and further on towards England as a translator and guest (or is it as a living trophy?) – aboard Captain James Cook’s HMS Endeavour.
The great Ai Weiwei, giant of contemporary Chinese, activist and human rights art, directs with breathtaking outrage this soul-searching documentary on the devastation of a Mexican community gutted by a mass abduction of students.
Something completely different from the director of Beasts of the Southern Wild (NZIFF12), this swirling, kaleidoscopic take on the adventures of Peter Pan and Wendy in Neverland is uniquely for both mature kids and wide-eyed adults.
Those with a voracious appetite for fresh variations on the zombie genre will lap up this juicy Belgian horror comedy about a virus outbreak in a run-down hospital offering cheap cosmetic surgery to desperate clients.