Film fes­ti­val dishes up treats

Hav­ing trou­ble choos­ing a de­lec­ta­ble treat from the smor­gas­bord of films on of­fer in the New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val? Cinephile Kylie Klein Nixon shares her method of pick­ing the choic­est morsels at the box of­fice ban­quet.

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

As some­one in the movies once said, life is like a box of chocolates. That’s never more true for Welling­ton film fans than in July, when the New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val opens.

Like the ul­ti­mate box of cin­e­matic sweet­ies, the hard­est part is pick­ing what to try first, with a show­case of more than 80 films from all around the world.

The on­line cat­a­logue gives you sev­eral op­tions for pe­rus­ing the pro­gramme.

I like us­ing the sec­tions, or gen­res and themes, to sort through it all.

A is for an­i­ma­tion, al­ways a de­light in the fes­ti­val, where my top pick is Michel Gondry’s Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

Cou­pling Gondry’s trippy car­toons with clips of a dis­cus­sion be­tween him and Amer­i­can lin­guist- philoso­pher Noam Chom­sky, this is about as far from the cartoon mouse as an­i­ma­tion can get while still be­ing hand­drawn.

An­i­ma­tion also of­fers a chance to get your young­ster into the fes­ti­val spirit with pro­grammes for tots from 3 to 10 years old. There is also the Ja­panese anime, Patema In­verted, which might be the next Spir­ited Away.

Kiwi films that shine in this year’s pro­gramme are: low budget, sci-fi REAL­ITi by the di­rec­tor of Black Sheep, which ex­plores our ur­ban land­scape and the ‘‘fears we im­port from over­seas’’; House­bound, a gothic sub­ur­ban chiller that wowed crowds at the South by South West fes­ti­val, in Austin, Texas; and The Dark Horse, a drama­tised biopic star­ring Cliff Cur­tis as East Coast leg­end Gen­e­sis Po­tini.

The Big Nights sec­tion fea­tures Boy­hood by Texan di­rec­tor and fre­quent fes­ti­val con­trib­u­tor Richard Lin­klater.

Lin­klater knows how to play the long game when it comes to cin­ema. The com­ing-of-age film took 12 years to shoot and fol­lows the film’s star from the age of 6 to 18.

Fram­ing Re­al­ity, the doc­u­men­tary sec­tion, is an­other big draw in the fes­ti­val, be­cause these are films that rarely get a wide cin­ema re­lease out­side fes­ti­vals.

This year’s top picks in­clude: Ukraine is not a brothel, by Aus­tralian doc­u­men­tar­ian Kitty Green, about dis­cred­ited fem­i­nist group Fe­men; sea­soned doc­u­men­tar­ian Alex Gib­ney’s ex­pose on ego­ma­niac ped­aller Lance Arm­strong; and the ‘‘im­prop­erly en­ter­tain­ing’’ The Gala­pa­gos Af­fair: Satan Came to Eden.

The Fresh sec­tion, show­cas­ing first-time screen­ers, in­cludes a cou­ple of films that might be must-sees of the year, let alone the fes­ti­val fort­night.

First among them is Frank, star­ring Michael Fass­ben­der, the drama­tised biopic of Brit leg­end Frank Sidebottom who pushed mu­si­cal bound­aries, all while wear­ing a gi­ant grin­ning head. Yes, it’s a com­edy.

Mean­while, in the In­cred­i­bly Strange sec­tion the top film to see is, with­out a doubt, fourth wall- bust­ing fan­tasy The Congress.

It stars the eter­nally lu­mi­nous Robin Wright as a fic­tion­alised ver­sion of her­self, forced to sell her soul to Hol­ly­wood and big busi­ness to res­ur­rect her ca­reer.

Blend­ing trippy an­i­ma­tion with live ac­tion drama, The Congress will not be like any other film you see this year, or per­haps ever. Brave, weird, won­drous – don’t miss it.

Mu­sic lovers are un­usu­ally blessed this year, too. Ev­ery film in this sec­tion looks like a corker, but my pick has to be 20,000 Days on Earth, a pseudo-doc­u­men­tary about Nick Cave in which Cave plays chauf­feur to his friends and col­lab­o­ra­tors and quizzes them about his life.

The film might be self­con­grat­u­la­tory and in­dul­gent, but I ex­pect that will be mit­i­gated by Cave’s en­dur­ing sense of the ab­surd and the fact that he’s the coolest man alive.

In the thrill sec­tion, Korean sci-fi satire Snowpiercer, about a train that cir­cles a postapoc­a­lyp­tic earth end­lessly, is stand­out.

But there’s also The Rover, star­ring Robert Pat­tin­son, from the di­rec­tor of hit crime drama An­i­mal King­dom, and bizarre sci-fi nightmare Un­der The Skin, in which Scar­lett Jo­hansen plays an alien who lures, cap­tures and vivi­sects men. Yes, you read that right!

The world sec­tion brings cin­ema from France, Mali, Scan­di­navia, China and Spain. The stand­outs will be: Black Coal, Thin Ice, a sur­real Chi­nese gen­re­blender set in the north­ern coal fields; and lyri­cal In­dian ro­mance The Lunch­box, which stars Ir­rfan Khan in a film de­scribed as ‘‘ 84 Char­ing Cross Road with added chut­ney’’.

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