NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2020


We could not be more happier than in this crazy year to be able to present to you a selection from the New Zealand International Film Festival 2020 programme at the Lumiere. The experience of watching this beautifully curated festival deserves the dedicated discipline of watching it in a cinema with a bunch of expectant strangers i've no doubt. Running over two weekends from July 24th we kick off with the True History of the Kelly Gang, a whirlwind of class and discontent.

.The Lumiere Box office is open from 10am to 10pm daily, also we will be accepting telephone bookings this year too!!! - With Great Hope... Nick

Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club

‘Steelers’ is a feature-length documentary about London’s first gay rugby club which started in London in 1995. Following the club’s journey at the world’s biggest international gay rugby tournament, the Bingham Cup, the film explores the how a community joined together by their sexuality is transforming lives.

Told through the eyes of Australian television news reporter, Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, who moved to the UK to escape depression - ‘Steelers’ is a confronting and emotional, yet heartwarming story which explores themes of mental health, identity, misogyny and resilience.

The film’s narrative unfolds as the Steelers compete against 60 other gay teams in the Bingham Cup in Amsterdam - the World Cup of gay rugby.

First, we learn about the struggles of the director, Ashton-Atkinson. We gain insight into his own battles with being gay, including how he was outed at high school when a classmate secretly filmed them having sex and then showed the video at school.

Through the documentary he follows the journeys of three central characters.

The first is former international player for Wales and the club’s Director of Rugby, Nic Evans, who is fighting to overcome misogyny in a male-dominated sport. Nic shares how even in the gay world she is discriminated against because of her sex. Referees often don’t recognise her. Coaches from other teams assume she is the water girl.

The second character we meet is Birmingham rugby fanatic Simon Jones who only recently came out as gay. When a close childhood friend, whom Simon had fallen in love with, reacted badly Simon spiraled into a depression. Simon pulled back from everything he loved including rugby, but after stumbling across the Steelers, he was able to find happiness again.

The final character is prop turn drag queen, Andrew McDowell. Through his story the film looks at issues of identity and masculinity within gay sport. After organising a fundraising concert for the club one year, Drew discovered his love of drag, and ‘Drewalicious’ was born. Yet even in the face of pushback from people within the club, Drew shows us the most important thing is to be true to yourself.

Through these heartwarming, emotional and at times, confronting stories - we learn that everyone needs a place to belong and happiness can be found where you least expect - yes, even on a rugby pitch.

Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club

‘Steelers’ is a feature-length documentary about London’s first gay rugby club which started in London in 1995. Following the club’s journey at the world’s biggest international gay rugby tournament, the Bingham Cup, the film explores the how a community joined together by their sexuality is transforming lives.

Told through the eyes of Australian television news reporter, Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, who moved to the UK to escape depression - ‘Steelers’ is a confronting and emotional, yet heartwarming story which explores themes of mental health, identity, misogyny and resilience.

The film’s narrative unfolds as the Steelers compete against 60 other gay teams in the Bingham Cup in Amsterdam - the World Cup of gay rugby.

First, we learn about the struggles of the director, Ashton-Atkinson. We gain insight into his own battles with being gay, including how he was outed at high school when a classmate secretly filmed them having sex and then showed the video at school.

Through the documentary he follows the journeys of three central characters.

The first is former international player for Wales and the club’s Director of Rugby, Nic Evans, who is fighting to overcome misogyny in a male-dominated sport. Nic shares how even in the gay world she is discriminated against because of her sex. Referees often don’t recognise her. Coaches from other teams assume she is the water girl.

The second character we meet is Birmingham rugby fanatic Simon Jones who only recently came out as gay. When a close childhood friend, whom Simon had fallen in love with, reacted badly Simon spiraled into a depression. Simon pulled back from everything he loved including rugby, but after stumbling across the Steelers, he was able to find happiness again.

The final character is prop turn drag queen, Andrew McDowell. Through his story the film looks at issues of identity and masculinity within gay sport. After organising a fundraising concert for the club one year, Drew discovered his love of drag, and ‘Drewalicious’ was born. Yet even in the face of pushback from people within the club, Drew shows us the most important thing is to be true to yourself.

Through these heartwarming, emotional and at times, confronting stories - we learn that everyone needs a place to belong and happiness can be found where you least expect - yes, even on a rugby pitch.
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NZIFF - EXILE

Are you ready for a virtuosic masterclass in sustained discomfort? From Exile’s opening scene, where chemical engineer Xhafer walks home through his bucolic German suburb only to find a dead rat hanging from his front gate, there’s no escape in this immaculately crafted pressure cooker.

Born in Kosovo, Xhafer (Mišel Matičević, in a compelling, controlled performance) begins to see racism around every corner. But where he finds microaggressions, gaslighting and hatred at every turn, his German wife (Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller) only sees paranoia and honest mistakes. As it becomes clear Xhafer is no innocent himself, the line between real and imagined slights blurs, and his simmering anger slowly rises to a boil.

NZIFF - EXILE

Are you ready for a virtuosic masterclass in sustained discomfort? From Exile’s opening scene, where chemical engineer Xhafer walks home through his bucolic German suburb only to find a dead rat hanging from his front gate, there’s no escape in this immaculately crafted pressure cooker.

Born in Kosovo, Xhafer (Mišel Matičević, in a compelling, controlled performance) begins to see racism around every corner. But where he finds microaggressions, gaslighting and hatred at every turn, his German wife (Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller) only sees paranoia and honest mistakes. As it becomes clear Xhafer is no innocent himself, the line between real and imagined slights blurs, and his simmering anger slowly rises to a boil.
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NZIFF - Heroic Losers

Ricardo Darín, Argentina’s rustic leading everyman and no stranger to the crime-caper genre, stars in this endearing, old-timey heist movie about sticking it to the man. When Darín and his hardworking neighbours are fleeced of their life savings on the eve of the country’s 2001 financial crisis, the future looks grim, until they get a tip-off that the devious lawyer who swindled their cash has hidden it all in an underground vault, presumably for a rainy day. Revenge has never felt so satisfying – or sweetly ironic – as the titular losers plot to reclaim what’s rightfully theirs on the night of a torrential downpour.

NZIFF - Heroic Losers

Ricardo Darín, Argentina’s rustic leading everyman and no stranger to the crime-caper genre, stars in this endearing, old-timey heist movie about sticking it to the man. When Darín and his hardworking neighbours are fleeced of their life savings on the eve of the country’s 2001 financial crisis, the future looks grim, until they get a tip-off that the devious lawyer who swindled their cash has hidden it all in an underground vault, presumably for a rainy day. Revenge has never felt so satisfying – or sweetly ironic – as the titular losers plot to reclaim what’s rightfully theirs on the night of a torrential downpour.
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NZIFF - Martin Eden

Jack London’s sweeping semi-autobiographical novel gets an unexpectedly poetic Neapolitan translation in this ambitious new feature from Italian director Pietro Marcello. Long known for making cryptic beautiful miniature length films (Lost and Beautiful, NZIFF16) that combine dramatic and documentary elements with archive footage, Marcello here attaches his exquisite eye, attention to lived-in detail and mountains of archive footage to a compelling narrative of artistic aspiration, class struggle and desperate romance.

NZIFF - Martin Eden

Jack London’s sweeping semi-autobiographical novel gets an unexpectedly poetic Neapolitan translation in this ambitious new feature from Italian director Pietro Marcello. Long known for making cryptic beautiful miniature length films (Lost and Beautiful, NZIFF16) that combine dramatic and documentary elements with archive footage, Marcello here attaches his exquisite eye, attention to lived-in detail and mountains of archive footage to a compelling narrative of artistic aspiration, class struggle and desperate romance.
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NZIFF - My Extraordinary Summer With Tess

10-year-old Sam is enduring a summer family holiday on a Dutch island, but things are far from idyllic – his brother has a broken leg, his mum has terrible migraines, and his dad is constantly trying to encourage togetherness. Sam, who has an imaginative morbid streak and a desire to unpack life’s big questions, embarks on “aloneness training” to prepare for the fact that as the youngest he’ll likely outlive his family. But his training quickly changes tack when he meets 11-year-old Tess, an enigmatic and electric force, with a secret and quest all of her own. — Nic Marshall

NZIFF - My Extraordinary Summer With Tess

10-year-old Sam is enduring a summer family holiday on a Dutch island, but things are far from idyllic – his brother has a broken leg, his mum has terrible migraines, and his dad is constantly trying to encourage togetherness. Sam, who has an imaginative morbid streak and a desire to unpack life’s big questions, embarks on “aloneness training” to prepare for the fact that as the youngest he’ll likely outlive his family. But his training quickly changes tack when he meets 11-year-old Tess, an enigmatic and electric force, with a secret and quest all of her own. — Nic Marshall
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NZIFF - New Zealand's Best 2020

For this year’s New Zealand’s Best short film competition, Festival Director Marten Rabarts, Head of Programming Michael McDonnell, and Paris-based Programmer Sandra Reid viewed 78 submissions to make a shortlist of 12, from which renowned director Tusi Tamasese selected these six finalists. A jury of three will select the winners of the $4,000 Creative New Zealand Jury Prize and the $2,000 Madman Entertainment Emerging Talent Award, while the winner of an audience vote takes away the Audience Choice Award, consisting of 25 percent of the online box office from this year’s screenings.

“Overall, these films illustrate and reveal a range of human experiences and emotions. They all had characters and stories I felt were different, unique and entrancing, and that I connected with because they explored aspects of humanity from interesting perspectives. From trapped minds and bodies to how people choose to live with the consequences of their choices, they deal with defining moments that weren’t always predictable.” — Tusi Tamasese

NZIFF - New Zealand's Best 2020

For this year’s New Zealand’s Best short film competition, Festival Director Marten Rabarts, Head of Programming Michael McDonnell, and Paris-based Programmer Sandra Reid viewed 78 submissions to make a shortlist of 12, from which renowned director Tusi Tamasese selected these six finalists. A jury of three will select the winners of the $4,000 Creative New Zealand Jury Prize and the $2,000 Madman Entertainment Emerging Talent Award, while the winner of an audience vote takes away the Audience Choice Award, consisting of 25 percent of the online box office from this year’s screenings.

“Overall, these films illustrate and reveal a range of human experiences and emotions. They all had characters and stories I felt were different, unique and entrancing, and that I connected with because they explored aspects of humanity from interesting perspectives. From trapped minds and bodies to how people choose to live with the consequences of their choices, they deal with defining moments that weren’t always predictable.” — Tusi Tamasese
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NZIFF - RURANGI

A young trans activist, Caz (Elz Carrad), breaks down in tears in front of a support group towards the start of Rūrangi. He doesn’t know how he can help the queer people in front of him, and feels entirely guilty, even shameful about that fact. Like many of our young queer people, he’s burned out not by his struggle, but by the struggle of those around him. Having fled his hometown of Rūrangi to find himself, Caz returns hoping to connect not just with his father (Kirk Torrance), who he left ten years ago, pre-transition, but the small community whose residents are having struggles of their own now as well.

NZIFF - RURANGI

A young trans activist, Caz (Elz Carrad), breaks down in tears in front of a support group towards the start of Rūrangi. He doesn’t know how he can help the queer people in front of him, and feels entirely guilty, even shameful about that fact. Like many of our young queer people, he’s burned out not by his struggle, but by the struggle of those around him. Having fled his hometown of Rūrangi to find himself, Caz returns hoping to connect not just with his father (Kirk Torrance), who he left ten years ago, pre-transition, but the small community whose residents are having struggles of their own now as well.
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NZIFF - The County

It is predictably Nordic that a film portraying the struggle for justice against a mafia-like co-operative in a windblown Icelandic hamlet, where the elements have etched the passage of time into the handsome but weathered faces of both Inga and her husband Reynir much as the rugged terrain they call a farm, would be described as a comedy.

What’s more, the story kicks off with the unexpected death of Reynir as his truck rolls into a ravine – the catalyst for Inga’s grizzled yet fiercely entertaining crusade for the future of her fellow farmers in a remote valley in Iceland. Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir is tremendous as the grieving widow who suspects more was at play to her husband’s passing than the natural hardships of agricultural life. Uncovering a trail of bullying and anti-competitive behaviour by the farming co-op and its disarmingly corrupt CEO, she sets out to level the playing field – mansplaining and mudslinging be damned.

Somehow Grímur Hákonarson – director of the wryly observed Rams (NZIFF15) – manages with his deft touch and a heart as big as a tractor to find a tone that smoothly melds trademark Icelandic gruffness with a good dose of Erin Brockovich in gumboots. — Marten Rabarts

NZIFF - The County

It is predictably Nordic that a film portraying the struggle for justice against a mafia-like co-operative in a windblown Icelandic hamlet, where the elements have etched the passage of time into the handsome but weathered faces of both Inga and her husband Reynir much as the rugged terrain they call a farm, would be described as a comedy.

What’s more, the story kicks off with the unexpected death of Reynir as his truck rolls into a ravine – the catalyst for Inga’s grizzled yet fiercely entertaining crusade for the future of her fellow farmers in a remote valley in Iceland. Arndís Hrönn Egilsdóttir is tremendous as the grieving widow who suspects more was at play to her husband’s passing than the natural hardships of agricultural life. Uncovering a trail of bullying and anti-competitive behaviour by the farming co-op and its disarmingly corrupt CEO, she sets out to level the playing field – mansplaining and mudslinging be damned.

Somehow Grímur Hákonarson – director of the wryly observed Rams (NZIFF15) – manages with his deft touch and a heart as big as a tractor to find a tone that smoothly melds trademark Icelandic gruffness with a good dose of Erin Brockovich in gumboots. — Marten Rabarts
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NZIFF - The Girl On The Bridge

The Girl On The Bridge is a feature documentary directed by award winning New Zealand filmmaker Leanne Pooley. It is a glimpse into a world few of us comprehend and a response to our collective anguish about the suicide crisis in our communities and our desire to “do something”.

Twenty-two year old Jazz Thornton survived multiple suicide attempts and is now taking on a system she believes is failing her generation. After founding her own charity to support young people struggling as she once did, she’s put herself through film school to learn the skills she needs to communicate. She tells stories about survivors who have been through hell and made it back. But not everyone makes it and although Jazz has survived she’s lost a lot of friends, including sixteen-year-old Jess. Jess’s death was painful and potentially catastrophic for Jazz and in The Girl On The Bridge she navigates the same feelings of guilt and grief that anyone touched by suicide endures.

Jazz promised Jess she would tell her story and The Girl On The Bridge follows her as she fulfils that promise and creates a documentary series abut losing Jess, called Jessica’s Tree. Filmed over a two year period, The Girl On The Bridge follows Jazz as she deals wit her own internal battles as she creates Jessica’s Tree and as she increasingly finds herself the face of the suicide epidemic unfolding around her. Young people and their families turn to her in desperation asking her to “save” them. She juggles the pressure of their expectations while doing all she can to change the societal prejudices that helped create the problem in the first place.

The Girl On The Bridge is the story of a young woman with the weight of a generation on her shoulders. Having survived her own struggles and dealing with the loss of her friend Jazz has irrefutable insight into a subject society has only begun to grapple with.

This is a film about hope. It’s a film about redemption.The Girl On The Bridge is a challenge to all of us to try to understand.

NZIFF - The Girl On The Bridge

The Girl On The Bridge is a feature documentary directed by award winning New Zealand filmmaker Leanne Pooley. It is a glimpse into a world few of us comprehend and a response to our collective anguish about the suicide crisis in our communities and our desire to “do something”.

Twenty-two year old Jazz Thornton survived multiple suicide attempts and is now taking on a system she believes is failing her generation. After founding her own charity to support young people struggling as she once did, she’s put herself through film school to learn the skills she needs to communicate. She tells stories about survivors who have been through hell and made it back. But not everyone makes it and although Jazz has survived she’s lost a lot of friends, including sixteen-year-old Jess. Jess’s death was painful and potentially catastrophic for Jazz and in The Girl On The Bridge she navigates the same feelings of guilt and grief that anyone touched by suicide endures.

Jazz promised Jess she would tell her story and The Girl On The Bridge follows her as she fulfils that promise and creates a documentary series abut losing Jess, called Jessica’s Tree. Filmed over a two year period, The Girl On The Bridge follows Jazz as she deals wit her own internal battles as she creates Jessica’s Tree and as she increasingly finds herself the face of the suicide epidemic unfolding around her. Young people and their families turn to her in desperation asking her to “save” them. She juggles the pressure of their expectations while doing all she can to change the societal prejudices that helped create the problem in the first place.

The Girl On The Bridge is the story of a young woman with the weight of a generation on her shoulders. Having survived her own struggles and dealing with the loss of her friend Jazz has irrefutable insight into a subject society has only begun to grapple with.

This is a film about hope. It’s a film about redemption.The Girl On The Bridge is a challenge to all of us to try to understand.
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NZIFF - The Perfect Candidate

With progressive moves underway to reform life for women within Saudi Arabia, Wadjda director Haifaa al-Mansour returns to her home country. In what could easily be seen as a follow-up to her NZIFF13 crowd-pleaser, The Perfect Candidate illustrates the complexity of change now underway in the kingdom.

We first meet Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani) wearing a niqaab and driving to work at the local hospital, something that has only been possible since 2018. As the female doctor she faces discrimination not only from an elderly male patient (“People won’t succeed if their chief is a woman!”) but also from a colleague reprimanding her for not kowtowing to the patient’s demands.

Her attempt to attend a Dubai medical conference is thwarted by bureaucracy at the airport. Dad’s her guardian and needs to approve her travel visa extension but he’s now on tour and not answering his phone. A race against the clock to get it cleared drolly concludes with her signing up to run for the municipal elections. Her new agenda: to get the road paved outside her hospital so that patients can access necessary healthcare.

NZIFF - The Perfect Candidate

With progressive moves underway to reform life for women within Saudi Arabia, Wadjda director Haifaa al-Mansour returns to her home country. In what could easily be seen as a follow-up to her NZIFF13 crowd-pleaser, The Perfect Candidate illustrates the complexity of change now underway in the kingdom.

We first meet Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani) wearing a niqaab and driving to work at the local hospital, something that has only been possible since 2018. As the female doctor she faces discrimination not only from an elderly male patient (“People won’t succeed if their chief is a woman!”) but also from a colleague reprimanding her for not kowtowing to the patient’s demands.

Her attempt to attend a Dubai medical conference is thwarted by bureaucracy at the airport. Dad’s her guardian and needs to approve her travel visa extension but he’s now on tour and not answering his phone. A race against the clock to get it cleared drolly concludes with her signing up to run for the municipal elections. Her new agenda: to get the road paved outside her hospital so that patients can access necessary healthcare.
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NZIFF - The Truth

Japan’s modern master of the family drama slides gracefully into the annals of French film history with The Truth, his fourteenth narrative feature and the first made outside of his homeland, boasting no less than the inaugural pairing of icons Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche.

Playing an equally luminous, if far more imperious version of herself, Deneuve is superb as the prickly Fabienne, a legendary actress about to publish her memoirs. Arriving in Paris for the book launch is screenwriter daughter Lumir (Binoche), her second-rate TV actor husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their little girl Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier, proving yet again Kore-eda’s eye for child actors is impeccable). All appear not as close to Fabienne as her writings suggest.

Meanwhile, Kore-eda’s interests in memory and familial resentment shimmer in the reflective surfaces of the sci-fi movie Fabienne is shooting, about a mother-daughter relationship age-inverted by the time dilation effects of space. It’s a pleasure to witness this dynamic further mirrored in the exchanges between Deneuve and Binoche, among the finest performers of their respective generations, here revelling in the subtle and not-so-subtle friction of their mingling screen personas.

NZIFF - The Truth

Japan’s modern master of the family drama slides gracefully into the annals of French film history with The Truth, his fourteenth narrative feature and the first made outside of his homeland, boasting no less than the inaugural pairing of icons Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche.

Playing an equally luminous, if far more imperious version of herself, Deneuve is superb as the prickly Fabienne, a legendary actress about to publish her memoirs. Arriving in Paris for the book launch is screenwriter daughter Lumir (Binoche), her second-rate TV actor husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and their little girl Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier, proving yet again Kore-eda’s eye for child actors is impeccable). All appear not as close to Fabienne as her writings suggest.

Meanwhile, Kore-eda’s interests in memory and familial resentment shimmer in the reflective surfaces of the sci-fi movie Fabienne is shooting, about a mother-daughter relationship age-inverted by the time dilation effects of space. It’s a pleasure to witness this dynamic further mirrored in the exchanges between Deneuve and Binoche, among the finest performers of their respective generations, here revelling in the subtle and not-so-subtle friction of their mingling screen personas.
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NZIFF- True History of the Kelly Gang

Set against the badlands of colonial Australia where the English rule with a bloody fist and the Irish endure, Ned Kelly (George MacKay and Orland Schwerdt) discovers he comes from a line of Irish rebels called the Sons of Sieve, an uncompromising army of cross dressing bandits immortalized for terrorizing their oppressors back in Ireland. The True History of the Kelly Gang is bold, visceral, brutal piece of historical fiction subversively dismantling masculinity and an Australian Icon...

NZIFF- True History of the Kelly Gang

Set against the badlands of colonial Australia where the English rule with a bloody fist and the Irish endure, Ned Kelly (George MacKay and Orland Schwerdt) discovers he comes from a line of Irish rebels called the Sons of Sieve, an uncompromising army of cross dressing bandits immortalized for terrorizing their oppressors back in Ireland. The True History of the Kelly Gang is bold, visceral, brutal piece of historical fiction subversively dismantling masculinity and an Australian Icon...
MORE / TRAILER