Nine films from Aotearoa announced for NZIFF


Four world premiere screenings are part of this year’s selection of homegrown films at Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival.

This year’s NZIFF gets underway in Auckland on 28 July, before making its way around Aotearoa. Joining the first seven titles announced earlier this month is a mix of directorial debuts and films from festival regulars.

A Boy Called Piano

NZ Premiere

Fa’amoana John Luafutu’s acclaimed autobiographical play moves from stage to screen as a documentary detailing Luafutu’s grim experiences in the Boys Homes of the 1960s. Fa’amoana’s sons Matthias and Malo (aka Scribe) have already approached this subject matter in different ways in recent years (Matthias with Coming Home in the Dark which tapped into the legacy of state care cruelty and Scribe’s recent Return of the Crusader series, which included a focus on their upbringing). Here Fa’amoana’s own experiences are laid bare.

Punch

World premiere

Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) leads this New Zealand small-town sports drama as the demanding coach and notorious alcoholic father of a teenage boxer. The young fighter prepares for his first professional fight but begins to rethink his life’s trajectory and his sexuality after tangling with his outcast takatāpui Māori schoolmate.

Kāinga

World premiere

Following on from Waru and Vai comes a new anthology film, with eight Pan-Asian female filmmakers chronicling the diverse experiences of Asian people making Aotearoa their home, spanning five decades of the immigrant experience.

When the Cows Come Home

World premiere

Costa Botes (Angie, Struggle No More) returns to NZIFF with his latest documentary, centred on the unusual life of New Zealander Andrew Johnstone, described as “musician, journalist, artist and cow whisperer”.

Geoff Dixon – Portraits of Us

World premiere

Filmmakers Glenis Giles and Clare O’Leary get up close to the life and work of New Zealand-born visual artist Geoff Dixon as he prepares for a new exhibition. As Dixon’s surreal collages come together, so does a reflection on his creative life and childhood.

We Are Still Here

NZ premiere

Indigenous heroes from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific must overcome obstacles in their way so they can finally be masters of their own destiny in this multi-protagonist drama. Traversing a millenium of history, this is a response to the anniversary of James Cook’s destructive arrival in the region.

Woodenhead

Auckland premiere

A colourised version of Florian Habicht’s debut feature, which debuted at the 2003 New Zealand International Film Festival. Filmed in Te Tai Tokerau’s lush forests and spartan hill country, Woodenhead conjures a unique, fairy-tale-like realm, one that Aucklanders will now be able to embrace in newly vivid glory.

Juliet Gerrard: Science in Dark Times

Auckland premiere

Having played elsewhere around NZ in last year’s NZIFF, Aucklanders now get to see this insightful doco. Filmmaker Shirley Horrocks spends three years with the Chief Science Advisor to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, a period of time that saw the COVID-19 pandemic shake the world.

Path 99

Auckland premiere

Auckland’s Stardome Observatory & Planetarium finally gets its chance to host this NZIFF screening. A 45-minute audio-visual experience from media artist Grayson Cooke and composer Dugal McKinnon, combining electronic music with information discarded as “invalid data” by geoscientists.

Here’s more from the NZIFF media release:

Making their feature film directorial debuts are Nina Nawalowalo with A Boy Called Piano – The Story of Fa’amoana John Luafutu, and Welby Ings with Punch.

Adapted from the stage to the screen, A Boy Called Piano is an incredibly moving documentary detailing the remarkable story of Fa’amoana’s time as a state ward in the 1960’s and the intergenerational impacts of these experiences. The film was recently awarded Best Feature Documentary at the Montreal Independent Film Festival.

Punch, shot against the black sand backdrop of Tāmaki Makaurau’s West Coast beaches, has its world premiere at NZIFF 2022. This contemporary coming-of-age story set in small-town New Zealand stars Academy Award-nominee Tim Roth and newcomers Jordan Oosterhof and Conan Hayes.

Veteran independent documentary-maker Costa Botes (Forgotten Silver, Act of Kindness, Angie) returns to the festival with the world premiere of observational documentary When the Cows Come Home, charting the unusual life of musician, journalist, artist and cow whisperer, Andrew Johnstone. Interviewing Johnstone and family and friends involved in the various phases of Johnstone’s evolution, it seems as though Botes, himself a one-man production company, has found a kindred spirit in this offbeat bohemian.

Also making its world premiere at the festival is Geoff Dixon – Portraits of Us from filmmakers Glenis Giles and Clare O’Leary. The film is an intimate deep-dive into the world of New Zealand-born Australian-based visual artist Geoff Dixon whose work confronts the fragility of the natural world and seeks to raise awareness of issues of climate change and endangered species.

Anthology films Kāinga and We Are Still Here will treat audiences to the immense talents of a pool of filmmakers, bringing together a raft of Pan-Asian and Indigenous filmmakers respectively.

The final film of the trilogy that includes critically acclaimed films Waru (NZIFF 2017) and Vai (2019), Kāinga features stories written and directed by 11 Kiwi Pan-Asian female filmmakers from Māori Chinese Aotearoa, China, Philippines, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar and Tamil Eelam descent that chronicle the diverse, ever-changing experiences of Asians trying to make Aotearoa New Zealand their home.

Conceived as a cinematic response to the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s arrival in the South Pacific, We Are Still Here interweaves eight stories from 10 New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific directors that traverse 1000 years, from past, present, and future. The films explore stories of kinship, loss, grief, and resilience and show the strength of love and hope to overcome shared traumas that First Nations people have continued to face.

“We’re always proud to showcase homegrown cinema in the festival and it’s an honour to share this world-class Kiwi line-up to audiences around Aotearoa this winter,” says NZIFF General Manager Sally Woodfield.

“We encourage New Zealanders to experience these beautifully crafted films on the big screen and support local filmmakers.”

NZIFF will also present Auckland premieres of a few films from its 2021 programme that weren’t able to screen in the city last year, including Shirley Horrocks’ Juliet Gerrard: Science in Dark Times, planetarium audio-visual experience Path 99 (screening at Auckland’s Stardome Observatory) and the colourised version of Florian Habicht’s modern cult classic Woodenhead (NZIFF 2003).

More New Zealand feature films will be announced when the full festival programme is revealed in July.

NZIFF opens in Auckland on Thursday 28 July, followed by Wellington on the following Thursday, 4 August, Christchurch on 5 August and Dunedin on 11 August. The remaining centres will span August. Aotearoa New Zealand films screening at NZIFF 2022 are proudly supported by Resene.