NZFF’s Autumn Events season
As an entrée to whet our appetites before the main course which will run from July, audiences in Auckland and Wellington can sample some of the finest arthouse movies around in the NZFF’s Autumn Events season.
The typically world-class cinema on offer includes a fascinating documentary about the lives of women in modern day India. The World Before Her follows two distinctly different young women as they attend training camps for the realisation of their dreams. Ruhi is a wannabe beauty queen who is vying to be crowned Miss India; her antithesis is Prachi, a militant Hindu nationalist who spurns such vanity and Westernism, and instead wants to fight for her country. As sari-clad children learn the butt from the barrel in rifle training, their instructor cries “Are you going to spend your whole life chopping vegetables?” The tension between the worlds makes this an unmissable film.
For something completely different but just as enthralling, Antiviral represents an exciting debut from Brandon Cronenberg. The son of body-horror maestro, David, Cronenberg Jr’s movie is brilliant in its conceit: a celebrity-obsessed culture where viruses are harvested from sick celebrities and transmitted to willing, paying fans. Taking the notion of body fetishisation as far as it can go, the story’s bleak narrative is propelled by a superb central performance which should make a star of Caleb Landry Jones. With a bleached-out aesthetic and excellent acting, this is an impressive start to what is bound to be an interesting career.
To imagine what cinema-going was like before people ruined it with brightly-lit texting and popcorn-chomping, check out Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal Bande à part. A sublime black and white throwback to simpler times, where a sole camera swings from character to character and background noise makes up the soundtrack, it’s a quirky tale of two men beguiling a young woman into criminal activity. Film buffs will enjoy picking the references used by later filmmakers such as Tarantino. Mainly it is a delicious way to spend a chilly evening, soaking up the French language and effortless Gallic charm.
Also a must-see, to bring you back abruptly to the current day, Eugene Jarecki’s documentary on the United States’ War on Drugs will surprise those who thought they’d seen it all before. The House I Live In presents extraordinary access to prisoners, their families, the authorities, and those still free on the street just making a living, shining a fresh light on this seemingly unwinnable war. It is sobering to learn that most of those involved in the thirty-plus year campaign have lost sight of and faith in their mission. The Wire creator, David Simon, is one of the many fascinating interviewees.