The film festival has just started! This is super exciting to us, especially for Rachel who works it every year. Bonus points to you if you spot her while at a screening. You can pick up a brochure from any of your local libraries to see the enormous scope of what’s on. OR you can take our word for it and just pay attention to our picks…
New Zealand’s own Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song, directed by Tim van Dammen
This is the story you know transposed to the beachside Verona Campground not so very far from Auckland. It started as a soundtrack, with Shakespeare’s text being set to 21st-century Kiwi trailer trash pop. Yes it does need to be seen to be believed. Christopher Landon and Derya Parlak as Romeo and Juliet clearly belong together; they’re just so much prettier than anyone else. Their clashing clans are decked out in richly imagined array of riotous summery tackiness and perform with gusto.
The Selfish Giant, directed by Clio Barnard
This contemporary fable about the friendship of two 13-year-old boys of strikingly different temperaments falling under the influence of a scrap metal dealer who runs gypsy horse races on the side is partially modeled on Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name. Exciting, tough and superbly acted by a mix of non-professional and recognisable character actors, this is a bracing dispatch from the bottom of the heap.
Wadjda, directed and written by Haifaa Al Mansour
Set in Riyadh, Wadjda is not only the first full-length film to be entirely shot in Saudi Arabia, but it is also the first feature to be directed anywhere by a Saudi woman. In a country where women are not allowed to vote or drive, and cinema itself is banned, it’s already a surprising achievement. The film is as smart and funny as its young heroine, scoring its satiric points with a light hand, while never leaving us in any doubt that public life for a Saudi woman is seriously limited. If you see nothing else, see this. Super bonus points if you spot us both at screenings.
The Spectacular Now, directed by James Ponsoldt
This Sundance hit is a blessedly unaffected high school romance enacted with lovely directness by a superb duo of young performers. Miles Teller stars as a popular, all-round likeable boy whose easy-going charm may be more dependent on the hip flask in his pocket than he or anyone else realises. When his girlfriend tires of the good times, an unlikely new romance dawns with a much more introspective and conservative girl played brilliantly by Shailene Woodley.
The Bling Ring, directed by Sofia Coppola
Between 2008 and 2009 a gang of high-schoolers, who became known by the media as The Bling Ring, stole more than $3m in clothes, cash, jewellery and art from the homes of Paris Hilton (who makes a brief appearance), Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan and more. Using gossip sites like TMZ, they calculated when their victims would be out of town and googled their addresses. Easy as. Hilton was even so kind as to leave a key under her doormat. Not exactly criminal masterminds, The Bling Ring took selfies of themselves in designer swag and brazenly posted them on Facebook…
… we could go on for quite some time. You should definitely check out the brochure!