New Zealand International Film Festival 2016

Last night the Christchurch programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival was released and as usual, in amongst a programme that really does have something for everyone, there’s a healthy clutch of literary offerings.

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films over a two week period. The 2016 Christchurch festival runs from 28 July to 14 August.

Literary films at the Festival

Several of the films at the Festival are based on books, or are on the subject of writers. Portions of the following list have been kindly supplied by the Festival organisers.

Cover of The History PlaysChimes at Midnight
Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles’ 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece lives anew. Welles gives a mammoth performance as the Bard’s tragic fool Falstaff, along with John Gielgud as Henry IV and Keith Baxter as Hal. Chimes at Midnight is based on a compendium of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Daughter
The most lauded Australian drama of the last year, this bold, superbly acted debut from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone reimagines Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in a contemporary small town.

The Handmaiden
Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.

Cover of High RiseHigh-rise
In Ben Wheatley’s ambitious, wildly disorienting adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, tenants of a high-tech skyscraper slip into a literal class war. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss. (Read our blog post about the novel, High-rise: J. G. Ballard’s Vertical Zoo)

The Idealist
A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.

Indignation
Adapted from Philip Roth’s autobiographical novel of the same name, Indignation is an incisive, affecting drama of embattled individuality on a 50s American campus. With Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

Cover of Life, animatedLife, Animated
This incredibly moving and fascinating doco takes us into the interior life of autistic Owen Suskind, and explores how his love of Disney animated features gave him the tools as a child to communicate with the world. Based on the book by Ron Suskind.

Neruda
Not your conventional biopic, this enthralling dramatic exploration of the legacy of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda conjures up a fiction in which he is pursued into political exile by an incompetent detective played by Gael García Bernal.

Obit
Vanessa Gould’s fond and fascinating documentary introduces us to the unseen women and men responsible for crafting the obituaries of the New York Times.

A Quiet Passion
Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine star in Terence Davies’ lively, witty and ultimately intensely moving dramatisation of the sheltered life of 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

Cover of The rehearsalThe Rehearsal
In Alison Maclean’s vibrant screen adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, a first-year acting student (James Rolleston) channels the real-life experience of his girlfriend’s family into art and sets off a moral minefield.

Sunset Song
“Terence Davies’s Sunset Song is a movie with a catch or sob in its singing voice: a beautifully made and deeply felt adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel of rural Scotland.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
This new documentary provides insight and historical perspective on the life and work of philosopher Hannah Arendt, illuminating her relevance to some of the most troubling phenomena of our own times.

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