With the festival creeping ever closer, allow me to share with you five more of the films playing that are of particular interest to me.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

This unique-looking film is one of the most inspired opening night selections in all the years I've been attending the festival. After wowing audiences at Sundance and Cannes, it recently opened in America and is garnering rapturous reviews.

I've stopped short of learning anything about it since watching the trailer, which sold me emphatically on the film - I dare you to watch it and not be enthralled.


But that hasn't stopped me speculating that this may evoke Whale Rider by way of Hayao Miyasaki.

Whatever it ends up being, everything about the film speaks to the endless possibilities of cinema. I can't wait to watch it unfurl on opening night in The Civic.


When the credits rolled on Kill List, which played at last year's film festival, I vowed to never miss a film from its director and co-writer Ben Wheatley. Sightseers is the follow-up.

Although appearances point to it being a black comedy, Kill List proved that Wheatley's conception of genre does not conform to tradition.

As a friend of mine who recently saw Kill List observed, he's one of the few contemporary filmmakers who actually feels dangerous. There are few directors you can say that about.

I haven't seen a trailer for Sightseers, but I'm 100 per cent on board.

Side By Side

With the rise and rise of digital filmmaking, the art form is going through a massive transition, and it's not entirely clear yet exactly where things will end up.

Very few people would have predicted that Keanu Reeves would be our guide into the unknown, but in fronting this documentary about the arguments for and against digital filmmaking techniques, it would appear that he is.

The most interesting thing about the debate is how deeply invested various titans of cinema are in the outcome - this film garners insight from such industry leaders as James Cameron; George Lucas; David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, among others.

I'm on the side of purist Nolan, who favours the photochemical approach (as opposed to the digital approach) and I'm looking forward to seeing who supports his view in this enticing documentary.

The Cabin In the Woods

This genre-bending post-modern take on the teen horror film has had a rough run of it. Delayed for years by MGM's financial woes, it was finally released earlier this year in America.

But despite making respectable coin over there, the powers that be decided to bypass a cinematic release in New Zealand and Australia. Blerg.

There was a considerable degree of fan outcry and petitions were mounted, but it didn't change the distributors minds. But the interest generated has led to its inclusion in the Incredibly Strange section of the festival, curated by New Zealand's leading filmhead, Ant Timpson.

The mildly ironic thing is we would never have had a chance to see The Cabin In The Woods in the glorious Civic (where it is playing at 9.30pm on the second night of the festival) if it had garnered a proper cinematic release. To me, this opportunity outweighs the lack of a proper release and ensures the screening will be a fan-infused night of fun.


It's all too appropriate that this heart-wrenching film was perceived as the underdog when it upset more established filmmakers to win this year's Best Documentary Oscar - it's all about being the underdog.

I had a chance to view it via a screener DVD recently, but it's such a rousing crowd-pleaser, I wish I had waited to watch it with an audience during the festival.

The set-up seems cliched on paper - high school football team populated with underprivileged youths takes on their better-funded competitors under the guidance of a dedicated coach - but what plays out is just so damn human I was completely won over by it.

You'll realise early on that the title is not meant to be taken literally, but it takes on a much greater meaning as you follow the fate of the Manassas High School football team.

The coach's proclivity for proselytising makes him a perfect documentary subject - I was glued to the screen.

* Gonna see any of these films? What else in the fest is getting you excited? Comment below!