16 Cannes titles announced for NZIFF 2024

Kicking off in July, Whānau Mārama New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) has announced its films direct from Cannes.

Sixteen films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival are heading our way as part of this year’s Whānau Mārama New Zealand International Film Festival.

These include satirical body horror The Substance, starring Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley, which has been programmed as NZIFF’s Closing Night Film for 2024.

Cannes award winners playing NZIFF include All We Imagine As Light (Grand Prix, the second-most prestigious prize after the Palme d’Or), Black Dog (Gou zhen) (Best Film, Un Certain Regard), The Seed of the Sacred Fig (Special Jury Prize, Ecumenical Jury Prize, and FIPRESCI Prize), The Story of Souleymane (Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard and Best Performance Award, Un Certain Regard), Grand Tour (Best Director), and Armand (Best First Feature).

And, in echoes of last year’s Bad Behaviour, Good One sees the daughter of a renowned local filmmaker capture the dynamics of a father-daughter relationship (the director being India Donaldson, and Roger her father).

Two classics revisited at Cannes in 2024 are also coming to NZIFF in new restorations—Chantal Akerman’s American Stories: Food, Family and Philosophy and Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.

Read on for the full list of NZIFF selections from Cannes (synopses supplied by the fest), as well as the dates NZIFF will be playing near you.

All We Imagine As Light

The first Indian film in 30 years to compete in the main competition at Cannes, All We Imagine As Light sees director Payal Kapadia reunite with her A Night of Knowing Nothing (NZIFF 2021) production and camera team for this debut narrative feature which was awarded the Grand Prix. Centred on three nurses in modern-day Mumbai who have each come to the big city from smaller home villages, this is an absorbing story filled with humanity. Kapadia explores friendship, societal expectations, desire and revelatory discovery.

American Stories: Food, Family and Philosophy

Like most of Chantal Akerman’s films, American Stories: Food, Family and Philosophy, now beautifully restored in 4K, is a deeply personal one. Having yearned to fill the blanks of a past that her mother – an Auschwitz survivor – left largely unspoken, she sought to bring the “invented memories” of her people to life. In these glimpses of grief, longing, and alienation, all the mess of exile and migration is unsilenced with mesmerising intimacy. Storytelling, as Akerman noted, “has permitted people to survive history by laughing – laughing although the source is distress.” It’s this attention to both sides of the coin that makes American Stories a true portrait of a culture.


Actress Elizabeth (rising star Renate Reinsve of The Worst Person in the World) is summoned to a meeting at her son Armand’s school with his best friend’s parents, who make a severe accusation against Armand. What really happened among the children? And what does this tell us about the parents raising them? Like Anatomy of a Fall (NZIFF 2023), Armand invites audiences to an unofficial trial, where the divide between truth and lies is blurred – and we know an actress is playing her game. Pulling the strings of this outstanding Bergmanian drama is Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel, Liv Ullman and Ingmar Bergman’s grandson. Winner of the Caméra d’or for Best Debut film at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Black Dog (Gou zhen)

Eddie Peng stars as Lang, an ex-convict who returns to his dilapidated hometown on the fringe of the Gobi Desert which has been overrun with stray dogs. Soon he finds gainful employment in helping to round them up as part of a nationwide cleanup campaign. But perhaps the real star of the film is a lively black whippet who is suspected to be rabid. For whatever reason, Lang sees something of himself in the rangy cur, and as fellow outsiders, the two form an unlikely friendship as Lang faces up to his past and the violent grudge held against him by a scary snake venom dealer.


In a world free of humans, a staunchly independent cat narrowly survives a flood by teaming up with a capybara, a lemur, a Labrador, and an enormous, crane-like bird. The menagerie must stay together on a rickety boat to survive this rapidly changing environment. Combining beautiful animation with a captivating and stirring score, the world director Gints Zilbalodis has created is lush, intriguing and mesmerising. Adults and children alike will love the drama and humour derived from accurate observations of each species’ behaviour. Engaging and suspenseful, Flow is a love letter to the natural world that holds a mirror up to our own reality.

Gints Zilbalodis will travel to Aotearoa New Zealand for NZIFF 2024 to present his film at screenings in Auckland and Wellington.

Good One

“You two are fools,” smirks 17-year-old Sam, addressing her father and his oldest friend as they tell one story or another from their glory days. It’s an accurate observation from Sam, one of many she makes over the course of their weekend hiking trip through the Catskills. Both men are divorced, with stunted ambitions and palpable insecurities. At best they’re embarrassing, tactless, a little pathetic. At worst, they’re selfish, oblivious to the casual callousness of their behaviour. Amid mounting tension, Sam remains tolerant, attempting to appease the egos of these middle-aged men, but following a moment of transgression, she is forced to confront the extent of their cowardice.

Grand Tour

Grand Tour earned Gomes the prize for Best Director at Cannes as well as widespread critical acclaim. In Rangoon, Burma, 1917, Edward waits on the docks for his fiancée, but faced with sudden cold feet, he jumps on the nearest steamer instead. When he discovers she isn’t far behind, he begins a “grand tour”, fleeing through Asia to avoid her. The marriage of melodramatic artificiality with found footage plays with both time and geography in a truly unique fashion. Unlike the film’s hapless betrothed, this marriage is a beguiling success.

Paris, Texas

Director Wim Wenders fuses his expertise with the road movie and fascination for Americana in this intimate epic of the modern West. A man emerges from the desert, mute and dishevelled. After reconnecting with his brother and son, he embarks on a quest to find his missing wife. Harry Dean Stanton is subtly magnetic as a man recovering from a mysterious existential crisis. Paris, Texas won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1984 and secured the Best Director BAFTA the following year. It has become a modern classic, inspiring generations of filmmakers and musicians. We are delighted to present Paris, Texas in a new 4K restoration.

The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Mohammad Rasoulof escaped Iran to attend the premiere, and many believe he should have won the Palme d’Or. This is the most political Iranian film you could see right now. The Seed of the Sacred Fig provides a reverse shot on the Women, Life, Freedom protests, honing in on the shockwaves they send to the women in the household of a judge of the Revolutionary Courts, his wife and two daughters.

The Story of Souleymane

A young Guinean immigrant seeking asylum in Paris rehearses his story for an approvals interview as he tries to survive day-to-day in this tense, heartrending piece of social realism anchored by an astonishing performance from first-time actor Abou Sangare. Souleymane works as a food delivery man, pounding his bicycle through the streets of Paris on a rented account, as he is not legally allowed to work. Following his breathless existence in the days before his interview, director Boris Lojkine rarely leaves Souleymane’s side, evoking the work of legendary French realists the Dardennes as well as Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves, and Sangare’s performance is nothing short of astonishing.

The Substance

After fading star Elizabeth Sparkles is deemed surplus to requirements as a daytime TV fitness instructor, she’s presented with an offer too good to refuse. Take “the Substance” to incarnate two versions of the self: one is young, crisp, unblemished, and goes by the name of Sue. The other remains the same faded star. Seven days apiece are what each “self” is assigned, one week on, one week off… what could possibly go wrong? Coralie Forgeat forgoes any kind of subtlety in her dissection of systemic misogyny, instead opting for broad brushstrokes alongside body-horror prosthetics that’d make Cronenberg cringe – this one is not for the faint of heart.

To a Land Unknown

Chatila and Reda are Palestinian cousins stranded in Athens. They live in the margins, trying to make the money that could get them to the “real Europe”. Chatila is determined to make it happen, but Reda is on the precipice of succumbing to drug addiction. Their means of escape keep raising the stakes and getting their hands dirtier. Palestinian-Danish filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel delivers a rough and gripping update on Midnight Cowboy that powerfully captures the plight of Palestinians, deprived of a land and never at home anywhere, without being preachy. Further elevated by terrific performances, To a Land Unknown is one of this year’s must-see debuts.

Viet and Nam

Viet and Nam are two young coal miners enveloped in a languid romantic connection. Their bodies meet and dissolve into each other in the sparkling darkness of the mine, while they seek acceptance in the outside world. Shot in lush 16mm, Viet and Nam effortlessly weaves together a heartbreaking love story with a poetic meditation on the recent history of Vietnam. Trương Minh Quý’s sensuous approach will remind many of Thai maestro Apichatpong Weerasethakul, yet his passionate melancholy is his own trademark. And, when you eat watermelon in the future, you will think of the fairytale told in this film…

The Village Next to Paradise

In a country where you could be killed suddenly by an American drone and every street is patrolled by the military, it is difficult to lead a normal life. In Somalian-Austrian Mo Harawe’s stunning debut The Village Next to Paradise, a family negotiates their way maybe not to paradise, but something close to it. Mamargade drives trucks carrying mysterious cargo, his son Cigaal exchanges dreams with his peers, while Mamargade’s sister Araweelo aspires to buy a sewing machine so she may gain her independence. Echoing the sound of the wind and the waves, Harawe’s film fondly and tenderly plunges the viewer into life in Somalia and bestows the gift of hope on his characters and on his country.

Mo Harawe will travel to Aotearoa New Zealand for NZIFF 2024 to present his film at screenings in Auckland and Wellington.

When the Light Breaks

If you’ve known grief, you’ll know how long the pain lingers, but also how quickly it can come storming into the present. Rúnar Rúnarsson’s moving film perfectly captures the ripple effect of grief and the way it presents itself in different people; separately and together. When the Light Breaks takes place over 24 hours, opening with a romantically quiet moment; a couple watch the sunset over Iceland’s still waters. They affectionately jest, and exchange plans for the future – solo and shared. The next day, a devastating and sudden accident tears these plans apart…

Wild Diamond

To most people of a certain age, wanting to be a “reality TV star” is an odd aspiration. But to 19-year-old Liane, it’s everything. Literally. She knows exactly what she will be when she grows up – a star. She wants everyone else to know it, too. Living in difficult circumstances, Liane shoplifts and sells goods on the street to afford her lifestyle. When she’s selected to audition for reality TV show Miracle Island, it seems everything she’s gone through has been worth it. But now she must wait. In Liane, actress Malou Khebizi and director Agathe Riedinger have created a truly unique heroine. Evocatively shot, Riedinger shows us a side of France we don’t often see.

NZIFF 2024 dates and venues:

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington (31 July – 11 August) – The Embassy, Roxy Cinema, Light House Cinema Cuba
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (7 – 18 August) – The Civic, Hollywood Avondale, ASB Auckland Waterfront Theatre
Ōtepoti Dunedin (14 – 25 August) – The Regent Theatre
Whakatū Nelson (14 – 25 August) – State Cinemas
Ōtautahi Christchurch (15 August – 1 September) – Lumière Cinemas
Tauranga Moana (15 – 28 August) – Luxe Cinemas
Ahuriri Napier (21 August – 1 September) – MTG Century Theatre
Kirikiriroa Hamilton (21 August – 4 September) – LIDO Cinema
Ngāmotu New Plymouth (21 August – 4 September) – Len Lye Cinema
Whakaoriori Masterton (21 August – 4 September) – Regent 3