Wellington Scoop

Nine incredibly strange premieres chosen for film festival

News from NZIFF
Nine films have been selected for the Incredibly Strange section at this year’s NZ International Film Festival – they are from France, Sweden/Denmark, USA, Ireland, Japan and Belgium. Two films – Deerskin and Vivarium – come to Wellington from last month’s Cannes Film Festival.

This year marks 25 years since the inception of the Incredibly Strange film festival and 15 years as part of NZIFF. Incredibly Strange programmer Ant Timpson says he’s proud of a quarter of a century of hi-jinks. He reflects that they have been able to push buttons and boundaries without ever losing their sense of humour while having a profound effect on film culture in New Zealand.

“Since being absorbed into NZIFF, the selection has been focused on the best in global genre fare so hit films that made waves at Sundance, Fantastic Fest, Fantasia and Cannes now pepper the line-up alongside lesser known picks,” says Ant.

Timpson said this year’s programme seems to have an overall theme of obsession, with a focus on sex and horror. There are a few classy outliers in the mix: two documentaries from filmmakers beset on finding out the truth – You Don’t Nomi and The Amazing Jonathan Documentary are alongside provocative French film Knife + Heart and American film Mope, which tackle sex and murder in the adult film world with wildly different obsessive takes. In Deerskin, Jean Dujardin (The Artist) becomes murderously obsessed with his deerskin jacket, while in Vivarium, Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are captivated with finding the perfect home, only to end up in a suburban nightmare. Then there’s Swedish/Danish dark thriller Koko-di-Koko-da about a husband preoccupied with fixing his failing marriage only to enter a fable-like rabbit hole of horror.

Films in the Incredibly Strange programme for 2019 are:

Cannes 2019 Director’s Fortnight
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay/Photography/Editor: Quentin Dupieux
Georges, 44 years old, and his jacket, 100% deerskin, have grand plans in director Quentin Dupieux’s latest cinematic oddity, destined for cult status.
“Dupieux’s pitch-black sartorial satire [is]… wickedly funny… both hyperreal and resolutely deadpan… [and] nothing short of delicious.” — Ella Kemp, Little White Lies


Knife + Heart
2018 | France/Switzerland/Mexico
R18 violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb
Director: Yann Gonzalez
A third-rate porn producer’s most ambitious film yet may also be her most costly in this murderously kitschy homage to giallo, Grand Guignol and old school slasher movies.
“A giallo take on Phantom of the Paradise… This magical, erotic, disco-tinged horror-thriller is like cinematic candy. Vanessa Paradis has never been better.” — Katie Walsh, LA Times


Koko-di Koko-da
2019 | Sweden/Denmark
R13 violence & content that may disturb
Director/Producer/Screenplay/Editor: Johannes Nyholm
Visually arresting and very adult, Swedish director Johannes Nyholm’s devilishly devised folktale focuses on a grieving couple’s infinite camping trip from hell.
“[Koko-di Koko-da] plays like the bastard offspring of Groundhog Day and The Babadook.” — Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter

2019 | USA
R18 violence, sexual violence, sex scenes, suicide & content that may disturb
Director: Lucas Heyne
Boogie Nights meets Pain & Gain in this tragic, oddly compelling story of two low-end porn actors who sought fame but gained infamy, all based on real events.
“A melancholy portrait of two misguided souls seeking love and acceptance. This a true f***ing story – you can’t make this shit up.” — Sundance Film Festival


The Amazing Johnathan Documentary
2019 | USA
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay: Ben Berman
In the world of magic, nothing is what it seems as a terminally ill magician prepares for his swansong – and the ultimate trick on the maker of this bizarre documentary.
“Laugh-out-loud funny in a way that’s unexpected for a documentary about a deceitful, dying meth-addict magician on his final fumbling tour.” — Fionnuala Halligan, Screendaily

The Hole in the Ground
2019 | Ireland
M violence, offensive language & horror
Director: Lee Cronin
Paranoia takes hold of a single mother after her son, feared missing in the woods near an ominous sinkhole, returns unharmed yet with a disturbingly changed demeanour.
“A chilling domestic horror film… with strong performances, [a] quietly disturbing atmosphere… and good, old-fashioned scares.” — Kim Newman, Empire


Violence Voyager
2018 | Japan
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay/Photography: Ujicha
Twisted visions of childhood don’t come more unhinged than Ujicha’s delightfully macabre animated misadventure. Inventive genre thrills and spills abound: who knew cardboard viscera could be so disturbing?
“Blindsiding doesn’t even begin to cover the tonal jump that Violence Voyager… pulls over on the audience, and if you can stomach its gore and its aesthetically grating animation, there is some bloody good fun to be had.” — Chris Luciantonio, Film Pulse

Cannes 2019 Critics’ Week
Censors rating tbc
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots’ goal of becoming homeowners veers into strange and sinister territory in this smart and unexpected sci-fi horror.
“A malevolent horror satire that suggests those struggling with millennial anxieties should be careful what they wish for.” — Tom Bond, One Room With A View


You Don’t Nomi
2019 | USA
R16 violence, nudity, sex scenes & offensive language
Director/Screenplay/Editor: Jeffrey McHale
This shameless reappraisal of Paul Verhoeven’s much-maligned Showgirls explores the film’s complicated afterlife, from disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption.
“You Don’t Nomi reminds us that it’s okay to like things with rough edges, that streamlined perfection is overrated and, more than anything, it’s okay to deeply love something that most other people loathe.” — Chuck Foster, Film Threat


Film Festival adds screenings at Te Papa and two more CBD venues

NZIFF, which is run by a charitable trust, presents an annual programme of premieres which encourages lively interactions between the films, filmmakers and audiences. The full Wellington programme will be available on Friday 28 June. NZIFF starts in Wellington on 26 July.