What to See at the NZ Film Festival, Even if You Have No Friends

Clockwise from top left: Turbo Kid, Deathgasm, Ex Machina and Love 3D.
Clockwise from top left: Turbo Kid, Deathgasm, Ex Machina and Love 3D.

It's coming up to my favourite part of the year: the month of The New Zealand International Film Festival.

The festival comes at a good time: It's chilly, so a cinema, with its warm popcorn smell, is a welcome venue to snuggle away in, day or night.

Also, by the time July rolls around you've seen so many terrible Hollywood films that you're ready for some meaty stuff. Sure, I enjoy my Avengers 2's and my San Andreas's, but really, we deserve something truly good. Some films that feel fresh and new; less like they’ve been rolled off a conveyor belt. Films that you can actually remember in the months that follow.

As with years gone by, I devoured the glossy film guide, circling things I liked before cross checking them with other commitments and other films. Usually that means clashes, double-ups and stress; tears, frustration and gnashing of teeth.

But this year I made one decision that simplified things: I ditched my mates. No more lining up my schedule – I put myself first and went solo. I've created a top 10 list of films I'm truly excited about seeing.

I thought I'd share them with you, in order of screening, along with a few thoughts on why I'm excited. I've read as little as possible about each so I don't spoil them for you, or myself.

This is some kind of strange Canadian/New Zealand co-pro. In a nutshell I want to see this because Ant Timpson has a finger in it. He knows good movies. He produces good movies. This one looks retro and fun.

All I know is that this is super creepy and probably scary.

Ever since Kevin Bacon's performance in The Woodsman I've been sort of fascinated by the horrible topic of paedophiles. This is a documentary, which I imagine involves a park and two or more paedophiles.

A documentary about a journalist who ends up in the Middle East post-9/11. It looks full on and incredibly personal.

A movie from Alex Garland, who wrote two of my favourite films - 28 Days Later and Sunshine. This looks like the sci-fi movie I've been waiting for. Apparently the plot holds up (most sci-fi seems to fall apart by the third act) and it also looks great.

This is a doco about the American police force and how crazy it's all getting with SWAT teams becoming increasingly militarised, and causing terror on the streets.

Something about plastic surgery and a mother. The stills looked creepy as heck and totally sold me. Who needs trailers?

I love a good quirky documentary with heart. This year it's Spearhunter and Finders Keepers that I've wanted to see… now I can tick one of those off my list. This doco involves a man who buys a smoker at a garage sale, only to find a human leg in it. The owner of the leg wants it back. Cue documentary.

Gasper Noe is one of my favourite film makers. Irreversible has stuck with me like no other film, and Enter the Void at the mighty Civic a few years ago was also a mind bender. Now Noe brings us Love 3D – a 3D porno, sort of. I especially like that this is playing at 1.30pm. Count me in.

I've been dying to see this New Zealand horror comedy. Ant Timpson also has a finger in this one, plus my friend Milo Cawthorne stars in it, along with Kimberly Crossman. Metal music, horror, violence, comedy. SIGN ME UP.

Those are the 10 films I am most excited for, and I hope to see you there. I'll need some mates. I've even made a spreadsheet of times so you can find me. We can compare notes afterwards!

Or, as someone noted on my Twitter (@davidfarrier) "We have almost no crossover. I guess with 150 films to choose from that wasn't particularly likely"

And that's what makes the NZFF so, so exciting – there's something for everyone. And thanks to its careful curation, there aren't going to be many duds.

Auckland: 6 July – 2 August

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