2014 NZIFF - The 'Music' Films

23:04, Jun 26 2014

There I was looking for a way to tell you all what a must-see the documentary film about Kathleen Hanna, The Punk Singer is - and then there it is in the newly released program for this year's upcoming New Zealand International Film Festival. The festival kicks off in Auckland July 17, running until August 3. It's in Wellington from July 25 until August 10 and there are selected screenings around the country too - some of the festival favourites return to mainstream cinemas shortly after, and in some cases the films are already available on DVD or, again, will be shortly after the festival concludes.

I've already seen The Punk Singer (here's my review) and I'd consider it a must-see for any music fans - but since I attended the program launch for the fest last night (where we saw the lovely We Are The Best! - also a music-related film) I thought I'd run through some other highlights.

It's a great line-up of music films, documentary, concert-films and fictional takes - there are big-name biopics and the sort of specialist docs that fans of a particular genre, band - or album - will be thrilled to know they can see in the cinema.

I've already seen another of the big ticket items - Pulp: a film about Life, Death & Supermarkets. I'm hoping to interview the director (Kiwi - Florian Habicht) so was given an advance copy. Based around the 2012 farewell tour Habicht tells the story of Pulp and its music through its fan base, through the city of Sheffield. It's one of the best music docos I've seen in quite some time - with a charm to it that I reckon would extend over to anyone who isn't necessarily a fan of the band, it's as much about fandom, about the spirit within music that connects people, about the motivations around creating - and then saying farewell to/through - a musical entity.

The festival also brings the impressionistic Nick Cave pseudo-doco, 20,000 Days on Earth. This would be a great film to see anyway - but it'll be helped by the fact that it's recently been announced Cave will tour New Zealand for the first time in nearly a decade at the end of this year.

A local look at artist and composer Michael Smither - Michael Smither: Music - looks like a worthwhile watch.

Alive Inside looks at the breakthroughs in unlocking dementia patients through the use of music.

God Help The Girl is the crowd-funded musical by Belle & Sebastien's Stuart Murdoch.

Time is Illmatic tells the story of rapper Nas - based around the 20th Anniversary of his most important album. (I can't wait to see this one).

And the much talked about, delayed, intriguing Jimi Hendrix biopic - starring Outkast's Andre 3000 as a young Hendrix - Jimi: All Is By My Side - should be (at least) interesting. Could be a car crash disguised as art by plonking it in the festival, could be great. I'm picking car-crash but that won't stop me from seeing it. It can't be worse than other Hendrix films I've seen. And this tells the story of the pre-fame/pre-Experience immediate build-up to super-stardom. 

Frank is a Lenny Abrahamson-directed satire around a cult musician and his obscure art-rock band. It sounds like it's pretty funny.

And Voices of the Land: Nga Reo o te Whenua will see its world premiere at the festival. The story of traditional Maori music and instruments follows one of the quiet heroes of New Zealand music (Richard Nunns). It's top of my list alongside the Cave and Nas documentaries.

There are plenty of other amazing films on offer - check the program - but I thought to highlight some of the key music-related films. See anything you like the look of? Or are there any on this list you've already seen?

And what films from the festival this year do you consider a must-see?

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