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  • Tue, 17, Jul, 2018 - 5:00:AM

A Feminist Guide to the NZIFF

There are a number of gems in Aotearoa’s cultural calendar; The Comedy Festival, The Arts Festival, WOMAD and all the big summer music festies. But, to my mind, none match the sparkle of the NZ International Film Festival. Cracking open a new NZIFF booklet mid-winter is one of the best moments of my year. But pouring over the countless blurbs can leave a person with one overwhelming feeling; intense FOMO. There are always too many movies to see - more than would be humanly possible. So, I’ve gone through and compiled what I consider to be the essential feminist flicks coming our way. But remember the golden rule; the one you’ll remember will be the random one you took a chance on. Make sure to do that too. 


This one’s been on my radar for a while and I was delighted to see it would be playing in The Civic. (A note - if it’s playing at The Civic, see it at The Civic.) Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Disobedience sees Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams playing secret lovers within a conservative community of Orthodox Judaism. And frankly I’m excited to see McAdams getting her teeth into something beyond another boring wife role. The acting in particular has been the cause of a lot of buzz. 

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen 

A love letter from a son to a mother, Merata sees Heperi Mita pouring through the archives to tell his mum’s story. Merata Mita is described as the grandmother of indigenous cinema, with notable work including Bastion Point: Day 507(1980) and Patu!(1983). I’ll be heading along to learn about a remarkable woman, whose story I didn’t learn in school. 

Kusama – Infinity 

If you managed to visit The Obliteration Room while it was here in Auckland you’ll be wanting to see this doco. Yayoi Kusama was recently named the most popular artist in the world, with up to 9000 patrons lining up to see her exhibitions a day. That ain’t bad for an 89-year-old Japanese women, who all her life had to battle the male pale and stale gatekeepers of the art world. 

Angels Wear White 

Angels Wear White is described the booklet as ‘even more [resonant] since the #MeToo movement’. Directed by Vivian Qu, who excels at drama and paranoia, it tells the story of an illegal teenage worker who ‘witnesses something suspicious’. Compelling from the jump. 


First released in 1992, Orlando is a retelling of Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name, directed by Sally Potter and starring the ever cool, ever inimitable Tilda Swinton. I grasp at the chance to see an older film on the big screen, ditto the chance to see my girl Tilda. So, this one’s a twofer. 

Desert Hearts

This 1985 cult favourite is described by Lea DeLaria (you might know her from Orange is the New Black) as a classic lesbian film, and was written, produced, and directed by women - an anomaly even today. The film has been gaining cultish adoration ever since, and appears to be one not to miss. 

You Were Never Really Here 

I was surprised to see this one in there, feeling as though it had been out for a long time already. In fact, an incomplete version of the film was played at the 2017 Cannes Awards, winning Best Screenplay for writer-director Lynne Ramsay even at that stage. Ramsey is known for her unflinching realism - so be forewarned, this’ll likely be dark. 


When all appears lost in the United States of America, it’s good to remember that 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg exists - and that she doesn’t appear to be stepping down anytime soon. Only the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, she’s more than earned the affectionate nickname ‘The Notorious RBG’. This one I’ll be watching in order to re-up on some much-needed hope. 

See you there!


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