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10 Unmissable Flicks Hitting The NZ International Film Festival

By Ava Wardecki
17th Jul 2019

Port Authority, New Zealand Film Festival

The New Zealand International Film Festival is the shining jewel in Auckland’s winter festival crown. It’s back from July 18th 2019 and is sure to light up Auckland’s cinema screens and social calendars with its wide range of international and local flicks. Trust us when we say that this year’s lineup is nothing short of glittering.  

From intriguing arthouse films to nail-biting thrillers, documentaries to multi-award-winning feature films, us lucky Aucklanders are in for all kinds of cinematic treats this year.  Overwhelmed by all the choices in this year’s programme? Fear not, here are the movies not to miss at the New Zealand International Film Festival 2019

Les Miserables (2019)

Forget any scenes of period costume-clad frenchies breaking out into patriotic songs every next minute. This tale of Les Miserables is an engrossing portrait of troubled Parisian subcultures set in the modern day and age—after France’s 2018 FIFA win to be exact. The film follows an anti-crime squad’s gritty and grueling moments in a drug and poverty stricken suburb, highlighting social issues that echo Victor Hugo’s namesake novel.

Capital in the 21st Century

This riveting documentary is a far cry from the stale pictures of spreadsheets and bar graphs one might associate with the word ‘capital’. Instead, it takes a colourful trip down capital’s memory lane to the to look at how the world’s wealth has been shared (or not) throughout history—as mused in Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book of the same name. It’s an eye-opener about more than just money: it talks about power, control and power of the people. 

Sibyl (2019)

No film captures and explores the theme of obsession and boundaries in as chic a way as Sybil does. Written and directed by Justine Triet, this Cannes acclaimed, part-psychodrama, part-black comedy sees psychotherapist Sibyl push the boundaries in an obsessive effort to publish a novel—even if it means using and stirring her client’s mishappenings to get a juicy storyline to the point of self-destruction. 

The Lodger: A story of the London Fog

Enjoy a truly classic flick in the most classical of settings by booking a ticket to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story if the London Fog. Touted as the “first true Hitchcock movie”, the NZIFF treats us to a special viewing of this film by collaborating with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra to perform a riveting score to what was originally a silent 1927 film. Complete with dark humour, a touch of 1920’s expressionism and a gorgeously restored colour scope, this charmingly eerie film is not to be missed by thriller lovers.

High Life

Speaking of eerie thrillers, High Life is another festival favourite not to be left off your NZIFF hit list. Showcasing riveting performances by Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, this flick follows the story of undesirables and convicts on board a derelict vessel on a one-way trip into space. Far removed from all the usual cliches of sci-fi films, this masterpiece by French director Claire Denis is an unconventional, strangely sexy, yet incredibly dark distortion of the genre.

La Belle Epoque

Imagine a West World-esque agency where you can pay to play a lead role in any scene you wish. Any moment in time, any memory, with absolutely anyone you please. In the case of aging French cartoonist Victor, he chooses to go way back down memory lane and relive the magical week when he met his wife in 1974. In true French fashion, La Belle Epoque is oh-so-charming, from the set to the all-star actors, right through to the captivating storyline. Oh and did we mention it was a hit at Cannes?

Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent

Fashion lovers, you’re in for a right royal treat with this one. Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent promises sneak peeks behind the slinky curtains of the iconic couturier’s world. More than just a plain sailing celebration of his legacy, however, as the title may suggest, this film is an intimate portrait of Yves Saint Laurent himself as he creates his last collection. Capturing a huge moments in Saint Laurent’s career—and in the whole fashion industry, for that matter—this film is full to the brim of passionate, unmasking and iconic moments. 

A White, White Day

What’s film festival without a visit to a captivating foreign drama? Hailing from Iceland, this gritty, Cannes Critic Week's acclaimed drama follows the growing obsession of cranky ex-cop Ingimundur, as he begins to suspect his late-wife’s infidelity. Complete with awkwardly-long uncomfortable moments, explorations of hidden feelings and set in a stellar landscape, A White, White Day is bound to be a welcome addition to your festival hitlist. 

Brittany Runs a Marathon

After a wake-up call from a doctor’s visit, twenty-something-year-old New York party girl Brittany decides it’s time to re-evaluate her life choices. Taking up jogging turns out to be a pivotal moment for her—she befriends a running newbie and a seasoned professional, as well as a loveable troublemaker. As Brittany’s new friendships and psyche evolves, the film portrays personal development and self love in a sincere, sometimes slapstick way—without any of the pesky, typical cliches that tend pepper feel-good films.

American Woman

Sienna Miller delivers a superb performance as a Deb, a working-class Pennsylvanian mother who's struggling to move on and move through life. Exploring the highs and lows of both small and significant things in everyday life, this film follows a decades long storyline of Deb’s missing teenage daughter, while she raises her grandson as truth about her daughter’s disappearance comes to life.

After a marathon viewing session like that, you're going to want to grab a bite to eat.

Image credit: Port Authority

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