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The New Zealand International Film Festival returns to Timaru next week.
The 10-day collection of films from New Zealand and international film-makers will run until August 25 at Movie Max Digital Cinema in Timaru.
In preparation for the variety of cinema coming to the big screen, The Courier has asked Movie Max managers Georgie Pene and Anna Sewell for their top five recommendations in the coming programme.


1. AMAZING GRACE
(Screening Saturday, August 17, at 6pm and Thursday, August 22, at 2pm.)

Songbird . . . Witness Aretha Franklin at her gospel best in Amazing Grace.

After 45 years of sitting in legal and technical limbo, this film featuring then 29-year-old Aretha Franklin was finally released last year. Warner Bros brought in Sydney Pollack to shoot the recording that became the double album that was the highest-selling live gospel record of all time. Witness Franklin at her peak – including an 11-minute rendition of the song that became the film’s title.

 

2. AMERICAN WOMAN
(Screening Thursday, August 15, at 8pm and Friday, August 23, at 3.45pm.)

Star . . . Sienna Miller in American Woman, which screens in the New Zealand International Film Festival’s Timaru programme.

A decade-spanning story in the Rust Belt of America, American Woman follows Sienna Miller’s Deb, a solo mother struggling to move on from the disappearance of her daughter Bridget. Deb, living in working-class Pennsylvania, is raising Bridget’s son Jesse. Time seems to be easing the pain of her daughter’s disappearance – but then new truths come to light. American Woman screened at the acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 and the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year. It has been described as one of the best performances in Miller’s career.

 

3. MAIDEN
(Screening Friday, August 16, at 1.45pm and Friday, August 23, 6pm.)

Making history . . . The women of Team Maiden Great Britain star in Maiden, one of five films screening in the New Zealand International Film Festival that Movie Max Timaru staffers recommended.

Tracy Edwards dreamed of circumnavigating the globe on a yacht as part of sailing’s most prestigious competition: the Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Ocean Race). Angered by the sexism of the sport, she was determined to enter the 32,018-nautical-mile race on her own terms, and thus the first all-female crew of Team Maiden Great Britain was launched. Director Alex Holmes combines race footage from the 1989-90 race with new interviews with the original crew to create what has been described by NZIFF staffer Kailey Carruthers as “this year’s power ballad for feminism and being fearless”.

 

4. NEW ZEALAND’S BEST 2019
(Screening Sunday, August 25, 1pm.)

Kiwi stories . . . Darneen Christian plays Krystal in Briar Grace-Smith’s short film Krystal, which has been selected in the top six films in the New Zealand’s Best collection at the NZIFF.

New Zealand’s top six short films – as selected by The Piano director Jane Campion – have one special screening in NZIFF’s Timaru programme. The 95-minute selection includes drag queens, a lifelong egg cup collector, two sisters dealing with the return of their estranged father, a day in the life of a young man wanting to be noticed, a Maori woman in the 1600s preparing for a sacred ritual, and a party-going young woman who has just been released from jail. The New Zealand’s Best short film competition is now in its eighth year. There were 91 films submitted for the short film competition, one of the few competitive elements of NZIFF, which were then narrowed down to a shortlist of 12 by festival staff. This shortlist was then viewed by Campion, who chose her top six, which screen in the festival.

 

5. PHOTOGRAPH
(Screening Thursday, August 15, at 1.30pm and Thursday, August 22, at 5.45pm.)

Mumbai movies . . . Sanya Malhotra (left) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui are the leads in Ritesh Batra’s romance Photograph. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

A poor street photographer named Rafi convinces shy, middle-class student Miloni to pose as his fiancee to fool his meddling grandmother Dadi in Ritesh Batra’s Photograph. Batra returns to the streets of Mumbai for the film, which has been described as a romance of both the characters involved and the Indian city itself. Photograph follows on from his 2014 NZIFF festival favourite The Lunchbox, and even includes some of that film’s characters. The film comes to New Zealand following screenings at Sundance International Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year.