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Wellington gets the rare chance to kick off the annual New Zealand International Film Festival when the 2021 edition gets underway at the Embassy Theatre on Thursday night.
Fifty years after the first Wellington Film Festival featured seven films, this year’s impressive line-up sees more than 170 features and shorts unspool across seven venues in the nation’s capital.
Stuff to Watch has had the opportunity to preview a number of titles, and we’ve come up with this list of 10 of the wackiest ones – some of which will have their only screenings in Wellington – that just have to be seen to be believed.
* Whānau Mārama: New Zealand Film Festival: Eight great Kiwi films to check out
* The Pogues frontman on taking drugs in NZ and the hotel suite he painted blue
* Whānau Mārama: NZ International Film Festival: The 12 widely screening must sees
* Wellington film champion Bill Gosden has died
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
A mindbender Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze would be proud of.
Japanese director Junta Yamaguchi’s sci-fi comedy is this year’s Hot Tub Time Machine or Timecrimes, an increasingly wild madcap farce involving a cafe owner and his friends who discover a television that allows them to see into the future – exactly two minutes into the future.
Endlessly inventive and astonishingly executed, it was a deserving winner of a Special Jury Mention and the Audience Award for Best Asian Feature at August’s Fantasia Fest.
The Virtues’ and Deceit’s Niamh Algar stars in this British horror about a film censor who sets out to solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance after viewing an oddly familiar video nasty. However, it’s a quest that will begin to dissolve the line between fiction and reality.
Kiwi Ant Timpson (who made his directorial debut with last year’s Come to Daddy) is an executive producer on this 1980s-set tale which not only evokes plenty of nightmarish visions, but also the ongoing censorship controversies of that era in the UK.
Featuring the voices of Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Zoe Kazan and Peter Stormare, this hippy, trippy, very adult animation opens with nudity and violence and, at times, seems like a fever dream-cross between South Park, Scooby Doo and Heavy Metal.
It’s the story of one woman’s quest to track down the creature that soothed her childhood nightmares, but it’s also a fascinating meditation on the efficacy and nature of zoos and our sometimes tempestuous relationship with the environment and Earth’s other inhabitants.
Lily Topples the World
A well-received and excellent choice as the winner of SXSW’s Documentary Feature Competition, Jeremy Workman’s portrait of “domino artist” and YouTube sensation Lily Hevesh offers both a fascinating insight into the world of professional “domino toppling” and lashings of feel-good fun.
As well as showcasing plenty of incredible installations, it also provides an excellent primer on the rise of YouTubing and why it has proved to be so popular with Generation Z.
French director Quentin Dupieux’s follow-up to his killer jacket black comedy Deerskin is equally oddball and crowd pleasing.
Two hapless losers get sidetracked from their important courier job when they discover a giant fly in the boot of their car. Sensing an opportunity to make money, they set out to train it to fetch things. However, car trouble and mistaken identity threaten to derail their plans.
Features a magnificent scene-stealing cameo form Blue is the Warmest Colour’s Adèle Exarchopoulos.
The Most Beautiful Boy in the World
Björn Andrésen was the Swedish teen thrust into the trapping of fame by being personally selected by Italian director Luchino Visconti to play Tadzio in his 1971 adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice.
As Kristina Lindstrom and Kristian Petri’s hauntingly sad portrait reveals, Andresen’s ensuing five decades have been blighted by his experiences during and after the shoot. As he recounts the highs and lows of intense, but brief fame, we also see him return to work for a cameo in Ari Aster’s folk horror Midsommer.
Debuting at January’s Sundance Film Festival, Belgium’s answer to Step Brothers and Dumb and Dumber has a Farrelly brothers’ transgressional quality to its subversive humour.
Issachar and Zabulon are two dunderheaded siblings constantly getting themselves offside with others and in trouble with the authorities. When they accidentally lose their mother’s dog, after a shoplifting attempt goes awry, their attempts to retrieve him leads to a series of madcap encounters with a range of equally eccentric characters.
New Zealand’s own Cliff Curtis is a surprise star in this Croatian coming-of-age drama. He plays a wealthy businessman whose visit to an old employee and friend causes ructions within the family and has a young woman dreaming of a life beyond her isolated home.
Richly atmospheric and perfectly paced, it features a terrific performance from Gracija Filipovic, who played the same character in film-maker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s award-winning 2017 short film Into the Blue.
A kind of Parasite-meets-Hotel Mumbai, Mexican director Michel Franco’s unnerving and increasingly dark drama looks at the effect a revolution has on the lives of one well-to-do family.
What is supposed to be the happiest day of Marianne and Alan’s lives turns into a nightmare, after armed guerillas storm the family compound and their supposedly loyal servants start stealing the silverware. Filled with searing imagery and heart-pounding action, it is a tale not easily forgotten.
Executive produced by Taika Waititi and New Zealand’s Miss Conception films and featuring 800 Words’ Kiwi actor Alex Tarrant amongst the main cast, it’s easy to see why Canadian film-maker Danis Goulet’s debut has generated plenty of buzz since it made its debut in Berlin earlier this year.
While set in a dystopian future where the military has seized control of North America, it is actually a confronting allegory about Canada’s past treatment of its indigenous peoples. A haunting, vibrant, thought-provoking tale.
The Wellington leg of Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 2021 will run from November 4 to 21. For more information, venues and session times, see nziff.co.nz