I’m very excited to say that it’s nearly time for the NZ International Film Festival again, with most films screening here at MTG Century Theatre. Starting on Thursday the 1st of September, the festival runs through until the 18th and is packed with a fantastic line-up. Films range from inspirational, heartfelt and poignant through to intense, dramatic and thrilling – there are options to appeal to everyone.
For our opening night we have the uplifting and inspiring film Miss Sharon Jones! I’m looking forward to hearing the full story and following her journey to success after being told she was ‘too black, too fat, too short, and too old’ to make it as a soul singer, while enjoying some seriously good performances throughout. Other inspiring films include Free to Run, which explores the history of running over the last 50 years, including the effort it took to lift the ban on women competing in races over 800m.
There are a couple of gripping detective-inspired films including Argentinean story The Clan. Based on the true story of the Puccio family, who in 1985 were responsible for a series of kidnaps and murders, the trailer looks both chilling and mesmerising. Chilean film Neruda is the fictional story of an obsessive detective chasing the (real) Chilean poet and politician who went into exile in 1948.
And there’s no lack of thrillers, suspense and drama either. Elle looks to be an intriguing and potentially controversial film, set around the brutal rape of the main character. It explores power and domination and, I suspect, will challenge and engage the viewer throughout. High Rise is a drama which explores social division between those in the lower and upper levels of an apartment building. It has been described as “a kind of adult Lord of the Flies.” It’s interesting to see these sorts of films responding to current debate about social systems such as gender and class.
Two charming animated films of beautiful and poignant stories should be a hit with young and old. Long Way North tells the story of Sasha, a young Russian aristocrat in 1892, who undertakes a treacherous journey north to seek her grandfather who has failed to return from his latest expedition to the North Pole. The other animated film The Red Turtle tells a castaway tale and is full of sublime imagery “a must for the big screen”.
Local content is not forgotten, with three strong features from New Zealand and the Pacific, giving the opportunity to get behind and support our own filmmakers in the film festival. These include The 5th Eye, New Zealand’s Best 2016, and Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2016.
Suffice to say these are only some of the films in the line-up and I’ve already purchased (rather a lot) of tickets for some of my favourite options – not all listed here. Tickets are on sale now, at MTG, and Film Festival brochures are available from the museum foyer and will be widely distributed through shops and cafes in the city next week. Hope to see many of you at screenings in September.
Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 6 August 2016