It’s a windy Sunday in Welly. The sun is too shy to show its face. It’s high time for me to tell you how I’ve been experiencing the NZIFF so far. I’ve shared my views daily on Facebook and Twitter (you’re more than welcome to follow me there! “whensallymetwelly” – it’s easy to find me) but on this blog, I like to put things in perspective instead of sharing immediate reactions.
With more 150 movies at the NZIFF, you can easily guess that I’m not going to see them all! Knowing that it would be much more difficult for me to see Kiwi films back to France than to find The Lobster, my priority is to see as many Kiwi films as I can. Then of course, I focus on French-Speaking movies that I’ve been waiting for, and sometimes, I’m breaking my own rules to go and see a world movie that looks amazing!
Recap in 5 points of the films I saw during this first 10 intense days of celebration of cinema.
1. Kiwi documentaries: Getting acquainted with Kiwi culture
I watched 5 documentaries so far – all of them dealing with very different subjects and having a specific cinematographic approach.
One being the re-enactment of a terrible crime (Belief the Possession of Janet Moses) to deliver a never-before-seen side of the truth, another one being the result of a discovery-driven process in which the director explored her own family history (The Silences): Performance VS self-investigation
Tony Hiles’ portrait of artist Michael Smither at work in Prints, gives us a privileged look into the screen-printing process. It’s the simplest film of the NZIFF: three-day shot, whereas Sarah Grohnert filmed for more than 2 years the built of New Zealand’s first “living building”. Ever the Land is the result of this long and precise observation.
All theses documentaries had one common point, though: they were all related to New Zealand directly or indirectly. Even From Scotland with Love, an archive documentary exclusively based on film footage from the Scotland Archive, refers to Aotearoa. Director Virginia Heath is a New Zealand born British citizen. Affected by immigration issues herself, she inserts into the dazzling procession of silent images, some shots of New Zealand when Scottish migrants were just discovering it.
You can check out the recap of a NZIFF panel about documentary making here: http://whensallymetwelly.com/nziff-panel-discussion-at-the-paramount/
If you’re interested in documentary screenwriting process, I had the chance to meet the Kiwi-Australian director Margot Nash for a rewarding interview:
2. French movies because I’m far from my people
Two French films: two good ones. Far From Men tackles subtly with the Algeria War, in adapting Algerian-born Camus’ short story The Host. Director David Oelhoffen gives the storyline a powerful cinematic narration and both Mortensen and Kateb perform at their best.
It’s no wonder that Vincent Lindon won Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. His dignity in The Measure of a Man makes us all wish we could have Thierry’s (the protagonist) mental strength. I couldn’t go to any supermarket at the end of the screening: Stéphane Brizé who describes itself as a simple storyteller achieves a discerning criticism on our market-driven society with a remarkable camera work.
3. World movies that I couldn’t resist to see
I’m a real fan of Amy Winehouse. I’d go as far as to say that she is the best voice of the beginning of the XXIth century. But even though I loved Asif Kapadia’s documentary on Senna, I was very disappointed by his Amy one. To me, the director looses itself in a tabloid-like doco that depicts the star’s chaotic life without capturing the magic of her music. Maybe I was too disappointed because it destroyed the image of my idol. Or maybe, it’s too early to talk about her? Something was cruely missing. I’ll probably write another post on it! Since then, what’s your opinion on it? Any Amy’s fans among you?
The second world movie I saw, was a masterpiece. You can discover here why I found that Phoenix is a masterpiece of German Cinema! : http://whensallymetwelly.com/nziff-phoenix-masterpiece-of-german-cinema/
4. My most exhilarating experience: horror-comedy Deathgasm
A satanic song, a bit of Braindead, lots of blood, heaps of very good hard rock music. Here you are! I surprised myself enjoying a horror movie so much. It’s so good to share a screening with horror geeks, dressed-up Gothic people and metal fans. Everybody was dying of laughter in the packed auditorium when the hero was disfiguring the third zombie with a chainsaw; I couldn’t help myself neither! My words!
5. Tiptop screening this week: New Zealand’s Best Shorts 2015
I was very impressed by the NZ Shorts I’ve seen on Thursday afternoon. NZIFF programmers Bill Gosden and Michael McDonnell viewed 75 submissions to make a shortlist of 12 from which Christine Jeffs (famous Kiwi director) selected these six finalists. I was glad to discover that the NZ Film Commission funded very well-chosen projects delivering works of such high quality. I’ll write a post dedicated to the shorts soon, but in a few words: in 16 min maximum, we are drawn into their world, irresistibly. It’s something only the best directors do!
NZIFF Halftime report : very positive!! Most of the screenings are full. I would have never imagined that I could share my love for cinema in such a way at the other part of the world.
Don’t forget, you’re most than welcome to follow me on Twitter or Facebook if you want daily reviews & information about the films. I’d love to follow yours as well.