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Thursday 09 October 2008

Six picks from the 2008 NZ International Film Festival

Posted in: Movies
By Matt Akersten - 9th July 2008

The NZ International Film Fest starts in Auckland this week, and then heads across the country to 15 other locations. We spotted several LGBT stories in the schedule, including one from New Zealand...

Rubbings from a Live Man

New Zealander Warwick Broadhead, veteran performer of arch, cracked "theatricals", has been performing on stages as big as the Botanic Gardens and as intimate as private parties for years, but he's never allowed his work to be recorded. But Florian Habicht and his cinematographer/editor Chris Pryor convinced Broadhead to re-enact some of the key moments in his far-from-ordinary life for this film. Calling on a cast of talkative alter-egos, not least a vile and shrewish God, he revisits his straitened childhood in 50s Kiwi suburbia, his ecstatic 60s in San Francisco and a heap of trauma, exaltation and grief ever since. Tidy emotion is the last thing you should be seeking from Habicht and Broadhead's exhilarating carnival of laughter, tears and death-cheating stunts.

Water Lilies

27-year-old French director Céline Sciamma makes an indelible debut with her crisply observed drama of schoolgirl crushes, jealousies and sexual exploration. The film pivots on the relationship between the envied star of a school synchronised swimming team and a younger girl who becomes her tetchily devoted admirer (see trailer below this article).


In this vivid celebration of the work and life of pioneering gay British filmmaker Derek Jarman (Jubilee, Caravaggio, Edward II, Blue), he tells his own story, through a lively, 1991 interview and copious extracts from his private and public movies. Jarman's former muse and recent Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton contributes her Letter to an Angel, an emotional reflection on his independence of spirit – which she reads, as we see her wandering around a gleaming new London that Jarman would barely recognise.

The Universe of Keith Haring

Keith Haring, who rocketed to fame in the early 1980s with his bold, cartoon-like pictures, was an unstoppable force who drew on every surface he could find – cars, walls, T-shirts and the subway – because he believed art changed people's lives. He took graffiti and street art into galleries, where curators, collectors and the general public responded warmly to his accessible, optimistic imagery. As chic and upbeat as the man it profiles, this affectionate portrait refuses to turn Haring's short life into a tragedy. Instead, it celebrates the enduring spirit of his life and art.

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

If Patti Smith has ever mattered to you, you'll remember why when you see Steven Sebring's Patti Smith: Dream of Life. Intimate, shape-shifting, expressively shot in lyrically grainy 16mm, it's as close to the self-portrait one imagines Patti's own reminiscences and recitations tell the story, and the moody black and white photography references both the iconic Robert Mapplethorpe photographs that graced her early albums and D.A. Pennebaker's milestone portrait of Dylan in '65, Don't Look Back, as key a reference point for this film as it was for Patti's groundbreaking 70s persona.

Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

This film is a moving and celebratory portrait of avant-garde musician and disco producer Arthur Russell, an enigma who bridged the gap between high-brow modern composition and the ecstatic freedom of the discotheque. We see the emergence and all too quick dissolve of the musician and composer who died of AIDS in 1992, as well as the rise and fall of the downtown New York community that nurtured him.

Find all the New Zealand Film Festival sessions details for Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Greymouth, Hamilton, Levin, Masterton, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Queenstown, Tauranga, Wellington and Whangarei on the link below. The official trailer for Water Lilies is shown below.

Matt Akersten - 9th July 2008