Our Must Watch Movie Picks For The NZIFF


With the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) kicking of on 27th July till 14th August it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the 160+ feature films.

From the engrossing list we’ve highlighted a few that have made a mark on our radar & anticipate viewing. Whether you're a film nerd, annual veteran or looking to dive deeper into your interests, the NZIFF gives a chance to broaden your horizons or lose yourself in a journey of the spectacle. You’re able to pick yourself up a 10 trip to pack your next few weeks full of moving films or select a few and buy tickets prior or on the day.

Our selection consists of the bizarre to socially conscious. Picking from word of mouth, score, actors, directors & concept we hope you’re able to find something that peaks your interest to explore more in the medium of film.

But by all means don’t let our picks isolate your choice either, go check out the full schedule of films on the NZIFF website.

Lucky (2017, USA)

Lucky comes to our attention first of all due to it starring the late Harry Dean Stanton. Well known for his breakthrough role in Paris, Texas (1984) & his more recent appearance in Twin peaks by director/artist David Lynch who funnily enough also stars in the film. Stanton gives us one of his final appearances on the big screen since passing in September 2017 not long after the films’ release in March. The film follows Lucky played by Stanton as he journeys closer to death & accepting his own mortality.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (2017, Japan/USA)

Sakamoto’s accolades extend beyond measure. Since his major role in Japanese Band Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sakamoto has gone on to win multiple Golden Globes for his film scores including The Last Emperor (alongside David Byrne), The Revenant, as well as an Academy Award for his score on Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. Take a journey as we gauge into the process of Sakamoto’s incredible mind. Learning of his Synth Pop days to his ambient & large scale orchestral performances. You’re also able to catch his performance of the album async in New York through Concert film also playing at the festival, which you can check out here.

Climax (2018, France)

Directed by Gaspar Noé who most will recognise his work through the bizarre & quite frankly scary Enter the Void (which for some reason I always try watch when I’m high but quit once it gets to intense) Brings us his next hour & half of uncertainty. If you’re looking to jump into something extremely out of your norm or consider yourself an open-minded individual, I highly suggest just purchasing a ticket & heading along. There’s bound to be a non-linear storyline, with intense colour schemes and probably a fright or two. The storyline is based on a group of dancers who accidentally ingest psychedelics so I’ll leave it at that.


In the Realm of Perfection (2018, France)

Not long after the legacy of Stan Smith we all too familiar with today lead one of Tennis’ most eccentric players, John McEnroe. Known for his extremely erratic behaviour on the court, McEnroe will forever be praised for his performance during 1984 in particular the ‘84 French Open. McEnroe, amongst a trail of abuse, tantrums, screaming, racket throwing & all out madness scored the greatest set of victories with an astonishing 82 - 3 win record. During this time in particular these events were captured on 16mm film only to be later comprised into a journey of the psychological of the pressures of an athlete pushing one’s mind and body to its limit.

The Third Murder (2017, Japan)

From Palme d’Or winner for his work on Shoplifters Kore-eda Hirokazu brings us a very different type of film. The Third Murder rings of Rashomon & 12 Angry men, a seemingly linear event yet reflects something more of a dubiously curiosity of events. A double convicted murderer is convicted of a third yet despite the appearance of an open shut case the ordeal turns to be far more complex.

McQueen (2018, UK)

From his unconventional upbringing and entry into the fashion world to his love of scuba diving, success at Givenchy and further to the triumph of his own label Lee Alexander McQueen has lead an extraordinary life. The Documentary follows five of his most acclaimed shows but through new eyes of some of those closest to him. Since his suicide in 2010 McQueen's name has only continued to flourish as a prominent house.


Burning (2018, South Korea/Japan)

Film adaptations are always a risk (which is partially what intrigues us) yet Korean Director Lee Chang-Dong has a well accoladed past in his lengthy film career. Selected to run for The Palme d’Or at this years Cannes Festival, Burning is a rendition of Japanese Author Haruki Murakami’s Barn Burning. Murakami’s story follows an absurdly odd series of events of Joint smoking, Miles Davis, Algeria & possible burning of barns between a part-time Model/part-time Pantomime & her sparingly married lover/acquaintance. Chang-Dong’s work has been well received globally in the past & we expect burning to prove no different.

You Were Never Really Here (2017 UK/France/USA)

Joaquin Phoenix has always delivered compelling performances & after his recent success of winning best actor for You Were Never Really Here during the 70th Cannes Festival this is one of the films we are dying to see on the big screen. Joaquin plays an ex-FBI agent turned hired gunman who has brutal tendencies dealing with sex traffickers. The film however turns towards the psyche & internal condition of Joaquin's character as he battles with the repercussions of his violent past, all aided by a soundtrack of the famous Jonny Greenwood. Greenwood’s work within film (not to note his work with Radiohead) can be found wisping across some of the most moving scores & soundtracks to date. You can jump online and listen to the soundtrack prior as a stand alone as a truly moving piece of work.

Maui’s Hook (2018, Aotearoa)

“If we save one person from suicide, it will have been worth making this film”

Paora Joseph is set out to accomplish a lot more than create a New Zealand film. Paora comes from not only a filmmaking background but also a trained psychologist. Prior to all this he was a youth worker, so it’s understandable that he holds a deep insight into NZ’s mental health culture. Maui’s hook is set to not only shed light our troubling statistics but to dissipate the illusions surrounding suicide that we’ve crafted. Beginning in Cape Reinga, Paora stops at Marae across the North Island gathering whanau onboard to grieve and learn together.


Shoplifters (2018, Japan)

2018 Cannes Festival Palme d’Or winner is the second film of Kore-eda Hirokazu showing at this years’ NZIFF. Shoplifters raises many questions as to how we value human connection. The Shibatas, a low-income family living in the outskirts of Tokyo provide for their family by any means necessary including shoplifting. The film centralises around the Shibata's taking in an abused child despite advised against so by authorities.

Written by Aitken Hawkins.
Photos: Sourced