A mermaid love story, a documentary about a groundbreaking Kiwi photographer and the first film adapted from a Twitter thread lead the intial batch of titles announced for this year's Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival.
Six films have been announced from the 2021 programme, which, all things going to plan, will mark a full return to theatres for the festival following last year's hybrid online/in theatres model. There is no virtual element this year, and organisers say that "the complexities of programming the nationwide film festival means that postponement is not an option".
This year's festival will see the world premiere of Argentina-born/New Zealand-based filmmaker Lula Cucchiara's documentary Fiona Clark: Unafraid. It promises an intimate portrait of one of New Zealand's most celebrated photographers, known for her early work documenting the burgeoning K' Rd queer scene in the 1970s. Clark's photos freaked out the normies something chronic and two were removed from a 1975 exhibition in a censorship flap.
Also screening is Janicza Bravo's buzzy fever dream Zola, an adaptation of A'Ziah King's 2015 viral Twitter thread in which she detailed a wild trip to Florida with a fellow stripper and her boyfriend. And Christian Petzold's fantasy romance Undine presents a Berlin-set contemporary spin on the classic water nymph myth.
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Also announced today: Jonas Poher Rasmussen's Flee, an animated docudrama about a man who escaped from Afghanistan in the mid-1980s and reinvented himself, Cannes Jury Prize winner Memoria, a Tilda Swinton-starring supernatural drama set in the Colombian jungle from acclaimed Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Edson Oda's philosphical fantasy Nine Days, in which souls interview for the chance to exist as people. There are many more films to be announced.
The festival is scheduled (fingers crossed!) to open in Auckland on October 28, in Christchurch the next day, then a week later in in Wellington and Dunedin, and throughout nine other centres in the subsequent weeks.
• More info at nziff.co.nz