Film festival announces star-studded line-up

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
The wonders

FILM FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHT: Italian drama The Wonders

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It's time to clear your calendars again, Kiwi film buffs - the film festival is back, with a star-studded line-up in tow.

The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) today announced it will screen 20 films which appeared at the prestigious Cannes film festival last month.

Though New Zealanders are often at the end of the queue when it comes to new releases, we'll be among the first to see many of this year's most acclaimed films, due to the NZIFF's early positioning in the international film festival schedule.

Leading the line-up is Turkish epic Winter Sleep, a meditative drama about an actor dealing with a marital breakdown.

Running at a hefty 3 hours, 16 minutes, it attracted raves and dismissals alike from audiences at Cannes, but was ultimately given the festival's top award by the Jane Campion-led jury.

Also among the award winning films is Italian drama The Wonders, a bittersweet coming of age tale set in the Italian countryside, which won second-prize at Cannes.

Festival director Bill Gosden said the NZIFF's close proximity to the prestigious French festival gives it an edge over other international film festivals.

"I think it's become a defining characteristic of the festival over the last ten years," he said.

"We're well placed to screen many films early on into their lives. We get to show films that go on to become world famous before they do."

He cited Italian film The Great Beauty, which screened at the festival six months before it went on to win an Oscar.

Gosden described this year's selection as "head-spinning" - his personal favourite is Kiwi horror comedy Housebound, which has premiered to acclaim at various festivals overseas.

Of the films announced today, Gosden is particularly fond of Canadian provocateur David Cronenberg's Map of the Stars, a gruesome he describes as an "astoundingly acidic view of Hollywood."

The film's lead actress, Julianne Moore, won the best actress award at Cannes.

Other highlights include Leviathan, an oppressive Russian drama which took home best screenplay at Cannes; 83 year old auteur Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language, an experimental filmic essay in dazzling 3D; artfully detailed Japanese film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, from acclaimed animation house Studio Ghibli; and the NZIFF's closing film, Argentinian satire Wild Tales, a collection of absurd standalone shorts.

The complete NZIFF programme will be available in Auckland from Tuesday 24 June and in Wellington from Friday 27 June. NZIFF screens in Auckland from 17 July to 3 August, and in Wellington from 25 July to 10 August.

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