Your favourite Festival Film

What was your favourite Festival film?

The votes are in, the numbers have been officially crunched and Your Top 5 films are listed in ascending order below.

As well as a clustering of support for the top 5 there was support across the board for almost 50 different favourites. The NZ premiere of Loop Track, made it into the top 15, and Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2023 was also nominated.

Those close to the Top 5 included:

Fallen Leaves, Theater Camp, Beyond Utopia,
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,
Afire, Merkel, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, and River

It is a list closely mirrors the selections made by the WFS Committee members, three of the five are on their list.

And NZIFF 2023 report that “among the favourite films at NZIFF 2023 were Anatomy of a Fall, Fallen Leaves, Past Lives, Perfect Days and Asteroid City.

So, without further ado…

Here’s your Top 5

5. Anatomy of a Fall

Cannes Palme d’Or for Anatomy of a Fall was a reward for director Justine Triet’s direction and share in writing the script, and Sandra Hüller’s performance in the lead role.

The dissection of a relationship in the context of a courtroom drama is a brilliant conceit which brings a pace and tension to a subject that is usually much more messy.

The script was tight and intelligent – and takes full advantage of the apparent latitude in cross-examination allowed by the French justice system. But it is Hüller’s command of her craft that takes the prize. Many movies stand or fall on the likability of character – you are supposed to have to care about what happens to them to stay engaged. Sandra (the character) doesn’t radiate likeability, but Sandra (the actor) delivers a mesmerising performance that fashions every pause, every facial expression, every gesture into the facts and clues of an emotional whodunnit. One that had us debating the verdict well after we left the Embassy.

4. La Chimera

A voter who chose it as their top film loved “the mix of fantasy, magic and comedy. It creates its own world, and I was enveloped and enthralled by it from start to finish”

At one level, the story is straightforward – a young English archeologist (Josh O’Connor) who has teamed up with a band of ‘tombaroli’ – local grave robbers – to unearth valuable Etruscan antquities. But deeper layers of loss and redemption are revealed in sequences of drama, comedy and suspense. Isabella Rossellini is superb as Flora, and Vincenzo Nemolato is a revelation as Pirro – vigorous, expressive, joyful, cunning and wise.

3. Monster

“Beautifully constructed on a “He said, she said” narrative with a storyline whose threads miraculously came together just prior to the film’s conclusion. Nuanced acting and a wonderful relationship between the two youngsters. A joy to have experienced it”.

It’s expecting a wide release on 23 November.

2. Past Lives

Past Lives is a wonderful film, remarkable for both its depth and its lightness of touch. Greta Lee as Nora can subtly express an aching introspection over what might have been and what might still become as effortlessly as moments of joy and humour. Much of what is happening is shown without any words being spoken. But it never drags and the ending will stay with you long after the lights go up. Beautifully filmed, remarkable and memorable.

And Your Favourite NZIFF 2023 Film is:

1. Perfect Days

The stand- out winner – “Perfect Days is a quiet celebration of the simple things in life and how beautiful life can be”. Wim Wenders’ small but wonderfully gentle drama had “masterful storytelling and pace” and reminded another voter of Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 drama Paterson, which they also loved. And the Flaubert quote ” “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Another said “I felt so many similarities between myself and the main character… it helps that I was in Japan all of June so felt like I was going home”.

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And you can check out what our WFS Committee chose as their top 5 here)