The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) announces that nine films will have their world premieres at the festival this year – one of the largest collections of world premieres NZIFF has seen in many years. Feature films with world premieres are Tom Sainsbury’s Loop Track, Home Kills directed by Haydn Butler, Michael Duignan’s film The Paragon, and NZ Opera film The Strangest of Angels, directed by Rebecca Tansley.
Five enlightening documentaries have their world premiere screenings: Ms. Information directed by Gwen Isaacs; John Chrisstoffels’ Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace, Robin Greenburg’s documentary Grant Sheehan: Light, Ghosts and Dreams; Annie Goldson’s film Red Mole: A Romance; and music documentary King Loser, directed by Cushla Dillon and Andrew Moore.
Alice Englert’s Bad Behaviour which premiered at Sundance in January, a special 4K restoration of Gaylene Preston’s (Titless Wonders NZIFF 2001, Mr Wrong NZIFF 1985) 1993 WWII drama Bread and Roses, and the filmed music performance, Tiki Taane in Session with CSO round out the Aotearoa New Zealand films in the NZIFF 2023 programme.
“We’re proud to have secured such an incredible line-up of homegrown films and it’s an honour to share this world-class line-up with audiences around Aotearoa this winter,” says Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival General Manager Sally Woodfield. “We encourage New Zealanders to experience these beautifully crafted films on the big screen and support local filmmakers.”
After premiering at Sundance, Bad Behaviour screens for the first time in Aotearoa at NZIFF 2023. The film stars Jennifer Connelly as Lucy, a former child actor, as she seeks enlightenment at a retreat led by spiritual leader Elon (Ben Whishaw) while she navigates her close yet turbulent relationship with her stunt-performer daughter, Dylan (Alice Englert). The film also stars Ana Scotney (Millie Lies Low NZIFF 2021), Beulah Koale (Dual NZIFF 2021), Dasha Nekrasova (The Scary of Sixty-First NZIFF 2021) and Marlon Williams (The Rehearsal NZIFF 2016, True History of the Kelly Gang, NZIFF 2020) and was produced by Desray Armstrong (Millie Lies Low NZIFF 2021, Stray NZIFF 2020) and Molly Hallam.
Loop Track, shot against the dense New Zealand bush, has its world premiere at NZIFF 2023. The film follows a highly anxious man (Tom Sainsbury) who, in the wake of a recent nervous breakdown, decides to embark on a four-day tramp through the New Zealand bush. As he encounters other trampers, he can’t stop the feeling they are being followed by someone … or something.
Haydn Butler makes his feature debut with Home Kills, a dark comedy set in the declining Kiwi backblocks as two brothers hatch a desperate plan to save their struggling butchery business by switching livestock for human lives.
Michael Duignan (Truant NZIFF 2005) returns to the festival with his debut feature The Paragon, a cosmic comedy horror about the victim of a hit and run who learns how to be psychic in order to find and take revenge on the driver who hit him.
Rebecca Tansley (Crossing Rachmaninoff NZIFF 2015, The Heart Dances NZIFF 2018) returns to the festival with NZ Opera film The Strangest of Angels, a dramatic, moving interpretation of a contemporary chamber opera inspired by events in the life of New Zealand writer Janet Frame.
Based on the true story of New Zealander Sonja Davies, a feminist, trade unionist and politician, Gaylene Preston’s (Titless Wonders NZIFF 2001, Mr Wrong NZIFF 1985) 1993 drama Bread and Roses begins during World War II when Sonja falls in love with a young American soldier who is sent away to fight in the Pacific.
Also making its world premiere is Gwen Isaac’s (Where There Is Life NZIFF 2017) observational documentary Ms. Information that delves into the trenches with Siouxsie Wiles, the fuchsia-haired microbiologist who emerged as a national hero during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace from director and award-winning cinematographer John Chrisstoffels follows a New Zealand farmer travelling to communist China in 1952, and through his 8mm camera revealing a unique political perspective from this era and setting him on a lifelong mission to build bridges through art and cultural understanding.
In Grant Sheehan: Light, Ghosts and Dreams documentary-maker Robin Greenberg (Team Tibet NZIFF 2017, Mo Te Iwi NZIFF 2019) traces the remarkable creative career of artist Grant Sheehan as he is propelled throughout Aotearoa and around the globe by little more than curiosity and a camera.
From Annie Goldson (Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web NZIFF 2017, A Mild Touch of Cancer NZIFF 2021) comes Red Mole: A Romance, a raucous and entertaining portrait of the radical and boundary-pushing New Zealand theatre troupe Red Mole.
Andrew Moore (No More Heroes NZIFF 2006) returns to the festival with co-director Cushla Dillon to present King Loser, a music documentary about the controversial 90s band and the short-lived, tempestuous rock romance of its central members, Celia Mancini and Chris Heazlewood. The screenings in selected centres will be followed by a gig featuring Chris Heazlewood and guests.
And fans of dub musician Tiki Taane are in for a treat with the film of the one-off 2021 concert he, and special guests, performed with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Tiki described the concert as the “pinnacle” of his career and film festival audiences can experience the renowned musician at his very best in Tiki Taane in Session with CSO.