It's film festival time again. On Thursday, August 30 we have the New Zealand International Film Festival launch with our opening film Disobedience.

After the death of her father (a revered rabbi), Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns home and rekindles a relationship that could rip the orderly Jewish community apart. Described by The Hollywood Reporter as "A transfixing consideration of love, faith, sexuality and freedom" and with a star-studded cast, this looks set to make a great opening film for the festival launch.

In keeping with the nature of film festivals, there's something for everyone's taste and we're really pleased to have three films focused on art this year. Kusama – Infinity tells the story of Yayoi Kusama who left Japan for New York in the 1960s. Famous for polka dot covered scenes, Kusama was subject to racism and sexism yet "routinely copied by male contemporaries such as Andy Warhol".

The Price of Everything explores commercial realities of art. Following the build up to a major Sotheby's auction, this documentary looks at artists who have mastered the marketplace, auction house experts, and an artist who is trying to get back 'on the scene'. This one will be a must see for me!


Our closing film, Petra, follows a young painter's journey to discover her father. Petra visits Jaume's estate in Catalan, Spain, where he works on his grand-scale sculptural works. With dead bodies, plot twists, a villain and spectacular scenery this film looks set to be a feast for both eyes and mind.

Keeping on the theme of visual feasts, Yellow is Forbidden follows Guo Pei, the leading couture designer in China as she tries to make it in Paris. Along with truly sumptuous cinematography and breathtaking costumes, this film also explores a determined individual trying to break into an impossibly difficult market. Directed by award-winning New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly, a ticket for this film was my first purchase.

A sub-theme among these films is that of strong woman, and who could fit better into this than Vivienne Westwood. Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist provides a fast-paced, dynamic and vibrant look at the passions and drivers behind the huge brand name of Vivienne Westwood.

Another power-house woman is Halla, an "Icelanic superwoman in a woolly jumper" in the film Woman At War. Living the ordinary and invisible life of a middle-aged woman, Halla is also, unbeknownst to most, a secret eco-warrior activist who is fighting a battle against industrial pollution "one exploded pylon at a time".

There's such a great line-up of films this year and I've only touched on a few. I really wish I could just sit in the theatre for two weeks and watch them all!

* Friends of the Aquarium workshop (held at MTG) with artist George Nuku, today, August 18 at 11am. Please pre-register with the aquarium.

* Kororaeka – The Ballad of Maggie Flynn, August 24, Century Theatre from 7.30pm. Tickets available online from Ticketek and at MTG.

* New Zealand International Film Festival, August 30–September 16, Century Theatre. Thirty-two films from 16 different countries, brochures available now. Tickets available online from Ticketek and at MTG.

*Laura Vodanovich is the director of the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke's Bay.