Strong Asian Selection Characterizes New Zealand Film Festival

The New Zealand International Film Festival had to cancel the Auckland leg of its multi-city exhibition series, but will continue in Wellington and Christchurch with a diverse lineup that includes an impressive Asian selection.

Wellington will screen a total of 164 feature films from 51 countries over 18 days (Nov. 4-21) across its eight venues. Christchurch will screen 95 features from 37 countries.

International highlights include Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Oscars contender Jasmila Zbanic’s “Quo Vadis, Aida?” Germany’s Oscar contender, Maria Schrader’s “I’m Your Man,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” and “My Salinger Year” also screen. So too does Jane Campion’s U.S.-set, New Zealand-made “The Power of the Dog.” The middle of the festival includes Cannes Palme D’or winner “Titane” and Paulo Sorrentino’s Venice grand jury prize-winner “The Hand Of God.”

The East Asian selection includes Hamagichi Ryusuke’s “Drive My Car” and Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Escape From Mogadishu,” Oscar contenders respectively for Japan and South Korea. The section also includes Hong Sang Soo’s “In Front of Your Face,” and “Midnight” by Korea’s Kwon Oh-seung, Hamagushi’s earlier “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria,” which flies the flag for Colombia in this year’s Oscar race.

Hong Kong gets plenty of face with Jun Li’s “Drifting,” which leads the Golden Horse Awards nominations, Kin Long Chan’s “Hand Rolled Cigarette,” and protest documentary “When A City Rises,” from Cathy Chu, Iris Kwong, Ip Kar Man, Huang Yuk-kwok, Evie Cheung, Han Yan Yuen and Jenn Lee.

The South Asia lineup includes Cannes Un Certain Regard title “Rehanna,” and seven from India: Sundance-selection Writing With Fire,” by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh; “Godavari,” by Nikhil Mahajan; “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” by Payal Kapadia; “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta,” by Aditya Vikram Sengupta; and Pooja Shetty and Neil Padegar’s “OK Computer,” “OK Computer Part 1” and “OK Computer Part II.”

Ten from Australia include Jennifer Peedom’s “River,” Wayne Blair and Ne Minchin’s “Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra” and Justin Kurzel’s controversial “Nitram.”

“We are delighted that even at ‘level 2’ we can screen our outstanding 2021 program to Cantabrians and Wellingtonians in a safe environment this November. Cancelling Auckland was a big blow – one that we share with fellow arts and culture organizations around the country who’ve been hugely impacted by this latest Delta outbreak,” said festival director Marten Rabarts in a statement. “We hope that Kiwis will now rally behind the film festival and show their support by coming out to see the stunning line-up of films that we’ll be presenting.”

Joining previously announced New Zealand films are “Milked,” a thought-provoking exploration of the country’s dairy industry and Juliet Gerrard’s “Science in Dark Times,” an insight into the life and career of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s chief science advisor.

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