Newshub's 15 top picks of the 2020 New Zealand International Film Festival

Kiwi cinephiles rejoice - the full programme for the 2020 Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival has been released.

The line-up of 79 feature films and seven collections of short films will screen in select cinemas and via online streaming around the country from July 24 - August 2.

Details on session times and how to buy tickets are available on the official festival website, but Newshub has selected 15 top picks to help film fans narrow down their choices.

The following selections were made by Kate Rodger (KR), Daniel Rutledge (DR) and Kim Choe (KC). 

NZIFF 2020: The Truth.
The Truth.

The Truth 

I love a juicy funny secrets-and-lies family drama set against the backdrop of a diva. The Truth looks to bring me all that, delivered by a top flight cast which includes Deneuve, Binoche and Hawke under the watchful eye of master Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirokazu. (KR)


NZIFF 2020: Dark City Beneath the Beat.
Dark City Beneath the Beat.

Dark City Beneath the Beat

An important, timely look at the experience of being Black in Baltimore, told through music and dance. Appearing to be at once confronting and uplifting, I'm really excited about being educated and entertained by this. (KC)


NZIFF 2020: Yummy.


A Belgian zombie movie that apparently "takes grotesque body horror to a whole new gross-out comedic level" with "an orgy of blood, violence and fun". Can it possibly compete with Peter Jackson's splatter comedies? I can't wait to find out! (DR)


NZIFF 2020: My Little Sister.
My Little Sister.

My Little Sister

Why do we need theatre? It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and this film looks to provide some validation - or at least exploration - of the medium's truly life-affirming qualities. (KC)

NZIFF 2020: Just 6.5.
Just 6.5.

Just 6.5

Of course all festival wish-lists must include some good old fashioned fast-paced action and my pick is Iranian director Saeed Roustayi's Just 6.5. Drug lords, good cops, bad cops - I'm in. (KR)


NZIFF 2020: Hong Kong Moments.
Hong Kong Moments.

Hong Kong Moments

Sure to provide unique insight into one of the most potent ideological battles raging on the streets of the world right now, this doco follows seven different people with seven different opinions on the future of that which unites them: their home, Hong Kong. (DR)


NZIFF 2020: The Girl on the Bridge.
The Girl on the Bridge.

The Girl on the Bridge

This is the confronting and inspirational story of suicide survivor Jazz Thornton, her ongoing commitment to stay healthy and give others like her the inspiration to do the same. An absolute must-see. (KR)


NZIFF 2020: Ema.


The sexiest, most intriguing trailer I think I've seen this year excellently teases an intense, gorgeous looking cocktail of dance, family drama and a flamethrower (!). It looks amazing. (DR)


NZIFF 2020: Coded Bias.
Coded Bias.

Coded Bias

Little can be more timely than a documentary exploring racial bias and privacy in an age of artificial intelligence and data automation, where information and efficiency is too often valued over justice and privacy. I hope Coded Bias sheds light on this dark area of technology much like The Great Hack did with Facebook and Cambridge Analytics. (KC)


NZIFF 2020: The Perfect Candidate.
The Perfect Candidate.

The Perfect Candidate

Saudi Arabia's Haifaa al-Mansour blew me away with her 2012 film Wadjda, a beautiful, insightful and weirdly forbidden look into female life in the kingdom. This enticing successor follows a doctor running for council in the strictly Islamic nation as it undergoes dramatic change. (DR)

NZIFF 2020: They Call Me Babu.
They Call Me Babu.

They Call Me Babu

This one's personal. My mum grew up in the aftermath of Indonesian independence, but I know very little about what life was like under the preceding period of Dutch colonisation. This film is an intimate look at the tensions underpinning that time and how they may have been experienced by one Indonesian woman. (KC)


NZIFF 2020: Loimata: Sweetest Tears.
Loimata: Sweetest Tears.

Loimata: Sweetest Tears

Filmmaker Anna Marbrook's labour of love took crowd-funding to get finished and now we are blessed with her story of Samoan waka-maker and voyager Ema Siope and her final crossing, which I can't wait to experience. (KR)


NZIFF 2020: Kids Run.
Kids Run.

Kids Run

Gritty German drama about a poor, down-on-his-luck boxer trying to get by and feed his kids. The festival describes this as "tough-as-nails", "unflinching" and "a tough watch", which are sure-fire ways to get me buying a ticket. (DR)


NZIFF 2020: King of the Cruise.
King of the Cruise.

King of the Cruise

I am utterly fascinated by cruise ships. At what point does a vacation marketed as an all-in-one luxury slide into mindless boredom and sickening excess? It seems like this documentary exists neatly at that intersection. (KC)




I always love signing up for a good cry at the film fest and this could be the one that most directly mainlines to my heart. The story of a Korean war vet and the boy who moves in next door, Driveways is one of the last performances from the late Brian Dennehy and I will not be missing it. (KR)


More information on all of the above films is available on the NZIFF 2020 website.