Women on film in international festival

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On film . . . Late activist Helen Kelly is the subject of documentary Helen Kelly – Together, which will be screened twice in Timaru next month during the NZ International Film Festival.

Notable vocalists, French dramas, New Zealand documentaries and recut classic films are among offerings screening in Timaru at the New Zealand International Film Festival next month. Courier reporter Greta Yeoman takes a look at this year’s programme.


New Zealand women have long been a focus of films in the New Zealand International Film Festival and this year’s programme is no different.

Film-maker Tony Sutorius’ documentary Helen Kelly – Together, which profiles the late activist and union organiser Helen Kelly, will screen in Timaru at 3pm on Sunday, August 18, and Monday, August 19, at 4pm.

The documentary follows the “giant of social justice” in her final year of life, from hospital treatments to rallying for the families of Pike River to becoming an accidental flag bearer for medicinal cannabis.

Local talent . . . New Zealand’s Best finalist Hinekurais one of six films selected by Jane Campion (Top of the Lake, The Piano) for the NZ International Film Festival.

Other New Zealand films on offer include For My Father’s Kingdom – a story of a father’s connections with both Tonga and New Zealand, as told through the eyes of his four children – which will screen 8pm on Wednesday, August 21; while New Zealand’s “winescape” is the star of the show in A Seat at the Table, which is scheduled for 3.45pm on Thursday, August 22, and 6pm on Saturday, August 24.

NZIFF’s 95-minute New Zealand’s Best shorts collection also comes to Timaru on Sunday, August 25, at 1pm.

The selection of shorts – as chosen by director Jane Campion (The Piano, Top of the Lake) – includes drag queens, a woman going direct from jail to a party, an egg-cup collector and a Maori woman preparing for her destiny in 1600s Aotearoa.

The festival’s opening night special is La Belle Epoque , which will screen at 5.45pm on Thursday, August 15, as well as 1.30pm on Wednesday, August 21.

Aretha Franklin stars in Amazing Grace, which will screen twice at Movie Max – at 6pm on Saturday, August 17, and Thursday, August 22, at 2pm.

Reimagined . . . Judy & Punch is a new adaptation of the classic puppet show, providing audiences with a feminist black comedy.

Recut classic films make their return to the big screen, including a complete restoration and new cut of Apocalypse Now (Sunday, August 25, at 7.15pm), as well as a 70th anniversary restoration of Kind Hearts and Coronets on Saturday, August 17, at 3.45pm.

French films feature heavily in the world films section, ranging across genres and topics; including victims seeking justice against paedophile priests in By the Grace of God (Saturday, August 17, 8pm), online alter egos in a psychodrama Who You Think I Am (Monday, August 19, 6pm) and space thriller High Life, starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche (Tuesday, August 20, 8pm).

Director Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) returns to the streets of Mumbai in new romantic film Photograph.

The “delightful romance that doubles as a sensuous love letter to the bustling Indian metropolis” will screen on two Thursdays – at 1.30pm on August 15, and 5.45pm on August 22.

Meanwhile, Judy & Punch (screening August 22, 8pm) provides audiences with a highly original, feminist adaptation of the classic puppet show, as actor-turned-film-maker Mirrah Foulkes’ black comedy references everything from Monty Python to The Crucible to Kill Bill.

In the spotlight . . . Opera singer Maria Callas is the star of the show in Maria by Callas, which is screening as part of the NZ International Film Festival. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Documentaries on offer include Halston – chronicling the rise and fall of American fashion legend Roy Halston Frowick – which will screen on August 16 and 20, and Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love which follows the relationship that inspired Leonard Cohen’s seminal song So Long, Marianne, chronologically from when the pair first met in the 1960s to their deaths three months’ apart in 2016.

Opera singer Maria Callas’ cinematic memoir Maria by Callas is also on offer in Timaru, as is Yuli, which stars Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta.

For more information on the New Zealand International Film Festival and the full Timaru programme, visit www.nziff.co.nz. All Timaru screenings will be at Movie Max.