Cannes festival winners top bill at NZ International Film Festival 2018

The Tokyo family in 'Shoplifters,' winner of this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The winners of two of the three major prize winners at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival will screen here in the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) starting next month.

They are Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters and Jury Prize winner Capernaum. The missing film is Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, winner of the Grand Prix. However, this has been picked up for distribution by Focus Features, the arthouse arm of Comcast-owned Universal.

Others I noticed that were popular with the critics but won't be in the festival include Everybody Knows by Iranian director Asghar and made in Spanish; Girls of the Sun about Kurdish fighters; and My Favourite Fabric, also about the Syrian conflict.  

However, this is a small handful compared with the NZIFF 2018's 11 of the 20 films chosen for the main Official Selection, as well as the opening night film from the 2018 Directors’ Fortnight, Birds of Passage, and 17 other features that screened at Cannes.

A number of category winners at Cannes are also coming. They include Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War (best director); the tied best screenplay winners, 3 Faces and Happy As Lazzaro; and Border, winner of Un Certain Regard, the festival’s second competition.

NZIFF director Bill Gosden says signing up films from Cannes is “always a mad scramble”  as the screenings are close to the programme cut-off.
“The upside is New Zealand audiences get to be among the first in the world to see the very latest and best in international cinema,” he says.

“Whatever its idiosyncrasies, Cannes still sets a very high bar, and this year’s selection proves it all over again.”


Behnaz Jafari in banned director Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces, co-winner of best screenplay.

The Cannes films (with descriptions provided by NZIFF) are:
Official Selection (in competition)
3 Faces (Iran)
Banned Taxi director Jafar Panahi’s road movie throughout Turkey with actress Behnaz Jafari.
Ash is the Purest White (China)  
Zhao Tao plays a tough, resilient woman in love with a small-time hoodlum in Jia Zhang-ke’s epic gangland romance, set against China’s relentless modernisation in the 21st century.
Burning (South Korea)
A love triangle and mystery based on a Murakami Haruki short story from Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry).
Capharnaüm (Lebanon)
Director Nadine Labaki’s story of a runaway boy who sues his parents for bringing him into the world of poverty and conflict.
Cold War (Poland)
Ida director Paweł Pawlikowski’s kaleidoscopic vision of 1950s Europe, bursting with music, dance and the turbulent love of two musicians caught between East and West.
Dogman (Italy)
Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) returns to the scene of the crime with this based-on-fact tale of a timid dog lover driven to terrifying extremes when he hitches his star to a human beast he cannot control. Best actor award for Marcelo Fonte.
Happy as Lazzaro (Italy)
Alice Rohrwacher’s seductive rural fable applies fairy-tale logic to explore the troubled soul of Italy.
Leto (Russia)
An exhilarating exploration of freedom under restraint from a director under house arrest, this resonant, exuberant picture of musicianship and band life is based on the lives of two stars of pre-perestroika Leningrad rock.
Shoplifters (Japan)
Director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s exploration of a loving, unconventional family making ends meet on the margins of Tokyo.
The Image Book (France)
Jean-Luc Godard’s latest essay is dense yet intellectually dexterous vision board on cinema, image-making and the state of the world.
The Wild Pear Tree (Turkey)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan follows a would-be writer’s reluctant return to his small-town fold, spinning an extensive series of encounters into a typically rich, wry, melancholic mood-piece.


Carey Mulligan in Paul Dano's domestic drama Wildlife.

2018 Critics’ Week: Opening film

Wildlife (US)
In actor Paul Dano’s directing debut, Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal capture the cracks that occur in a marriage when a young wife kicks against the constraints of 1950s domesticity.

2018 Critics’ Week: Competition
Diamantino (Portugal)
A universally adored, loving but somewhat clueless soccer star is co-opted for nefarious political ends in this outrageously bonkers satire of vacuous media and surging nationalism.
Woman at War (Iceland)
Benedikt Erlingsson (Of Horses and Men) mixes absurdist comedy and tense thriller, with Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir as a fearless eco-warrior, juggling environmental action and foster motherhood.


A Wayuu tribe member in Birds of Paradise.

2018 Director’s Fortnight
Birds of Passage (Colombia)
The ancient traditions of the indigenous Wayuu people are shaped by an ambitious matriarch to stake a place for her clan in the burgeoning drug economy of the 1970s.
Climax (France)
Gaspar Noé’s exhilarating 1990s techno dance musical that spins out into collective freak-out.
Leave No Trace (US)
New Zealand actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie is mesmerising as a 13-year-old living off the grid with her war veteran father (Ben Foster). Director:  (Winter’s Bone).
Mandy (US)
Panos Cosmatos’ follow-up to Beyond the Black Rainbow is a gloriously lurid mock-1980s revenge quest that aims a raging, roaring Nicolas Cage at villains from another dimension — Katherine McLaughlin, Sight & Sound.
Mirai
(Japan)
This animé from Hosoda Mamoru (Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast) takes a richly imaginative toddler-eye view of a new arrival in the family.
Petra (Spain)
A young painter secures a residency at a large family estate in the Catalan countryside to study under the ageing artist and owner she suspects is her father.
Samouni Road (Italy)
The impact on an extended family of Israel’s 2009 assault on a Gaza village is told with a deft mix of live action and animation.
The World is Yours (France)
Isabelle Adjani is the safe-cracking matriarch and Karim Leklou is her son who longs for a Mr Freeze franchise and a quiet life in this rollercoaster crime caper from writer-director Romain Gavras. Cinema de la Plage
Le Grand Bal (France)
Laetitia Carton goes into the beating heart of the traditional dance festival in Gennetines that attracts dancers and musicians from across Europe every summer.

Midnight Screening
Arctic (Iceland)
This snowbound endurance thriller, shot spectacularly on location, stars Mads Mikkelsen as the sole survivor of an air crash in the barren wastelands of the Arctic.


Eero Milonoff and Eva Melander in Ali Abassi's Border (Gäns).

Un Certain Regard
Border (Denmark/Sweden)
An ingenious and twisted blend of crime drama and supernatural romance from the writer of Let the Right One In delivers a fresh spin on Nordic mythology.
Donbass (Ukraine)
Documentarian and writer/director Sergei Loznitsa takes a sprawling dark comedy, with a vast ensemble cast, to evoke purposely manufactured social breakdown in a region of his homeland.
El Ángel (Spain)
Co-produced in style by Pedro and Augustin Almodóvar, this provocative true crime drama explores the short violent career of Argentina’s most infamous and longest-serving convicted killer, a baby-faced teenager. Note: not screening in Auckland
Girl (Belgium)
Lukas Dhont won the award for best first feature at Cannes with this empathetic, emotionally rich portrait of a 15-year-old trans girl who aspires to become a ballerina.
Rafiki (Kenya)
Wanuri Kahiu's tender, exuberant teenage lesbian coming-out tale has been banned in its own country.
The Harvesters (South Africa)
This brooding drama set in the Free State, a conservative Afrikaner farming province, pits the teenaged son of a deeply religious family against the adopted brother he believes will usurp him.

• The full NZIFF programme will be available for Auckland from June 26 for the festival starting on July 19; Wellington on June 29 for July 27; Christchurch on July 9 for August 2; and Dunedin on July 19 for August 9.


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