Preview: 2009 Auckland Film Festival

The 2009 Auckland International Film Festival is being held from July 9th to the 26th. The full programme is yet to be finalised; the organisers have just made their selections from the Cannes Film Festival, which finished last week and included Quentin Tarantino’s spell-check-defying Nazi-scalping WWII pic Inglourious Basterds and that crazy Dane Lars von Trier’s “deliberately un-releasable” experiment in sado-masochistic horror Antichrist, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who won Best Actress.


Among the films confirmed to be showing at the festival there emerge three thematic threads: rebellion, fashion, and rock ‘n’ roll. In the first category there’s Che, Steven Soderbergh’s four hour epic starring Benicio del Toro as the eponymous Marxist revolutionary and countercultural symbol, shot on location in France and Spain.

Che (Soderbergh)

There’s RiP!: A Remix Manifesto, about copyright and intellectual property; The Cove, an ‘eco-thriller’ in which a group of filmmakers, activists and free-divers breaks into a Japanese dolphin cove—with equipment borrowed from George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic—in order to shed light on the cruelty done to the animals there, and the critically-acclaimed Der Baader Meinhoff Komplex, Germany’s submission for Best Foreign Film in this year’s Academy Awards, which follows the West German terrorist Red Army Faction during the late-’60s and early-’70s.


For the sartorially-inclined there’s Coco avant Chanel, a biopic of the designer with Audrey Tautou in the titular role; Valentino: The Last Emperor, about the haute couture tycoon, which enjoyed the highest-grossing opening of any documentary in the US so far this year, and The September Issue, which chronicles the production of the 2008 Fall fashion issue of Anna Wintour’s Vogue magazine.


Music-wise there’s It Might Get Loud, which profiles Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge and The White Stripes’ Jack White; Soul Power, a funk-filled documentary about a legendary, sweaty 1974 concert in Zaire, and Largo, about the LA hipster hotspot where you don’t know who’s going to take the stage until you’re inside. Performers have included film composer and musician Jon Brion—who does a regular Friday night show—Fiona Apple, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Colin Hay, our own Neil Finn, Flight of the Conchords and Bic Runga, and comedians Sarah Silverman, Zack Galafinakis and John C. Reilly, among many others. Elliott Smith regularly played the club—a 5-track CD recorded there accompanied Autumn de Wilde’s book about the singer-songwriter in 2007—and footage of some of his shows might be in the film.


Also included: Departures, the Japanese film that won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars; Len Lye: New, Restored and Re-Discovered, about the ex-pat filmmaker and artist; Examined Life, Astra Taylor’s collected conversations with prominent philosophers including Judith Butler, Cornel West and Slavoj Žižek—the subject of her previous film; The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, which tracks the “wall of sound” producer’s fall from grace; Tyson, James Toback’s documentary about the boxer given Un Certain Régard at Cannes, and the meditative Korean drama Treeless Mountain, well-received at both Toronto and Berlin.

Keep an eye out for the programmes which should be out in the next few weeks, and check out for more information.

—Hugh Lilly


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