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Your Must Watch List for the NZ International Film Festival

By Sophia Romanos

With our favourite festivals postponed/cancelled (RIP Homegrown) NZIFF has managed to shift their programme online. Chromecasts, and Smart TVs can now be dusted and put to use as you simultaneously expand your artistic consumption and inhale copious peanut M&M's. Gather your friends, family, fellow filmic snobs and snob-esses and rent some killer international and Aotearoa titles making their national and worldwide premieres. Whānau Mārama: The New Zealand International Film Festival is available nation-wide OnDemand and in selected cinemas across the country from July 24th – August 3rd. To check out more titles or to find out more, hit up:

Dinner in America

To watch with popcorn and a side of teenage angst

A killer soundtrack and a protagonist who probably would prefer to give headbutts as high-fives. Dinner in America is the punk rock coming-of-age film you didn’t know you needed to see. There are fights, a house on fire, cordon bleu, balaclavas, an awkward incest joke and nudes on polaroid. An unlikely pair of misunderstood teens find themselves thrown together - and the rest you sort of need to see to believe. There’s a reason this flick is part of Ant Timpson’s Incredibly Strange collection in the festival.

Drama Girl

To watch alone

Okay, you don’t have to watch this one alone, but if you’re looking for giggles while you rip ribs off the BBQ, this isn’t the flick for you. Vincent Boy Kars directs this collision of documentary and drama where he asks twentysomething year-old Leyla to recreate challenging moments in her life with actors posing as her family and lover. The conversations between takes with Leyla and Kars really carry the narrative of this social experiment and allow this rare opportunity of recreating the past and analysing the decisions we make. Beautifully shot and uniquely crafted as we watch the line between reality and fiction blur.

Mi Vida

To watch on the couch with Mumsie

Coming-of-age isn’t exclusively for the under 16s and here’s Exhibit A. Lou is a Dutch ex-hairdresser dipping her toe in the waters of starting life fresh in the Spanish city of Cádiz. With nights on the town, wine, dancing and new friendships, this flick is the artistically crafted pick-me-up you’ll love to watch as you see your mum for the first time in five months. Don’t forget to bring the sav!

Jesus Shows you the Way to the Highway

To watch when you’re under slept, over-caffeinated or high

A simulated video game experience where Stalin is a computer virus - this can only be another Ant Timpson curation for the Incredibly Strange collection. Inception may spring to mind when you think of characters in an induced coma for an experiment in another world, but you must leave those preconceptions in the dust for this lowbudget and highly entertaining cacophony of bizarreness.

LOIMATA, the Sweetest Tears

To support NZ filmmakers

AUT’s very own TV and Screen lecturer Jim Marbrook produces this feature-length documentary following Ema Siope and her physical, mental and spiritual voyage from New Zealand to Samoa. Making its worldwide premiere with the festival, LOIMATA is one of the eight gems in the Aotearoa selection.

You Will Die at Twenty

To watch something you normally might not

A beautiful Sudanese film revolving around Muzamil, a boy condemned from birth to die on his twentieth birthday. Not on his death bed, but barely living, Muzamil lives this grim life with a mother and village in an anticipated state of mourning. Existing only to be protected and prayed for, the boy teeters a line between the fear of dying and the fear of living.

Bloody Nose Empty Pockets

To watch with a beer and a fistful of peanuts

A Las Vegas dive bar on the last night of its life. A motley community of stubbly lone-wolves congregate morning till close within these beloved four walls, framing this documentary in a way as if you’re farewelling an old friend. You can feel the sticky pull on your shoe soles as the Ross brothers turn their charismatic lens upon the observational world of documentary.


To watch with your more mature friends

Cold, hard drama at its finest, Instinct is one of the bigger titles at the festival. Lead actress Carice van Houten demands attention with her fantastic performance as Nicoline, a guidance counsellor caught between her desires and better judgement for prisoner and previous sex-offender Idris. If you’re after phenomenal performances, this directorial debut from Halina Reijn is a must-watch. Revolving around the theme of sexual abuse, this film is heavy, while cheekily dancing between the dangerous curiosities of two opposites

Just 6.5

To watch if you thought selling drugs in Iran was a great idea

Just 6.5 adds fuel to the well-oiled machinery that is Iranian cinema. A cluttered narrative of drama and police bureaucracy turns a sobering lens on the country with 6.5 million crack addicts. Director Saeed Roustayi at only 30-years-old creates a thriller brutally beautiful in both its creation and social commentary.


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