Gallant Indies

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A troup of dancers in Gallant Indies
What was your favourite Festival film?

The full results of our audience poll.

Recent screenings

System K


  • This movie has changed the way I see the world. Human creativity can thrive under any circumstances. Societal collapse requires collective response.
  • African outsider art in action, both in terms of expression and protest, amidst the poverty and injustice of a corruptly-run city with enormous inequality. A rousing survey of the power of creativity in the midst of hardship. Unsurprisingly, a great soundtrack too.
  • Chaotic art in a corrupt country. Charlatans or serious agitprop artists? I’m not sure that sacrificing a goat and drinking its blood is coherent political action?
  • The top rating is more for the artists than for the movie. Except that no other movie as far as I know has shown what these artists are capable of. They are truly great artists. I especially admired the bible performance and the act with the riding blood bath. So much meaning, guts and powerful drive.
  • Mesmerising. The kind of film that makes the world look different when you come out.

The Captain


  • A brilliantly executed Black Comedy which was incredibly based on true events. When the soldier, hunted in the first few minutes of the movie miraculously escapes a hunt, the actor (Max Hubacher) playing him transforms completely before our eyes as he grabs the clothes mantle left by a missing Captain. Gorgeous cinematography and dramatic VFX made for a visceral but highly enjoyable watch.
  • Premise was fine but it was unnecessarily relentlessly and gratuitously violent, to the point of making me nauseous. There were better ways to get the point across…
  • Chilling yet compelling, with a sense of humour so dark I wouldn’t want to be caught laughing.
  • A very hard watch, but so striking and beautifully made. The credits sequence in modern times shook me.
  • Kafka meets Inglourious Basterds meets Lord of the Flies.


Rasmané Ouédraogo (Saga) in a scene from Tilai and  Ina Cissé (Nogma)


  • Short but poignant in its simplicity.
  • A movie that showed that erotic, family and societal relationships shape the fate of humans no matter the place or time in history.
  • A visually beautiful and well made movie with a great soundtrack, that was unfortunately let down by the stilted acting and boring plot.
  • Enjoyed the 35mm celluloid print (despite all the negative scratches and dirt), untutored performances, and Abdullah Ibrahim’s haunting score, but it seemed all rather dated and distant now.
  • So many great things about this simple tale, the cinematography, especially the night scenes, was lovely. A great performance from the actor playing the impish teenager. The film’s quality stirred nostalgia for when I first started going to WFS.



  • Great performers and relevant satire. Great plot and sensitive performance by Lea Seydoux. The Journalist as perpetrator and victim of sensational media reporting techniques…
  • Not funny enough to be an effective satire and not politically coherent enough to be taken seriously. This cynical, empty film doesn’t seem to have much more to say than “isn’t it hard being France?”
  • Appalling, tedious, overwrought and shallow – only highlights were France’s clothes and lipsticks.
  • Splendid entertainment that just kept coming
  • A film that felt like it was always just about to end but never did


A man looking at exhibits in a waxworks museum


  • What a treat! The wonderful expressionists sets, the melodramatic miming, the barely suppressed eroticism – and a rich and vibrant live score. Thank you WFS and the Goethe Institute!
  • Looked and sounded fabulous but let down by awful elements in the plot – extended attempted rape scenes by sleazy old men – yuk!
  • Loved the live music! But the film wasn’t for me. Not as good as Faust!
  • 5 stars to the musicians, they did an amazing job! But although I enjoyed the production design and the creative choices for the third story, the film as a whole just didn’t get me engaged.
  • Brilliant. May this tradition continue.



  • Exciting, playful, thought-provoking, and surprisingly gripping. Full of surprises.
  • Enjoyable but messy, as though the filmmaker had a million ideas they wanted to squeeze into the film, and as a result nothing quite held together.
  • The mesmerising depth and psychopathy of children and adults made this film impossible NOT to watch, even when it was hard to.
  • A humorous and haunting crescendo. It’s also great to see children’s stories being told with nuance.
  • Wild turns left and right but an amazing film and so glad to have seen it!

B Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin


  • Extraordinary and fascinating. Wonderful interviews telling the story of the hedonism and yet intense artistic endeavour that Berlin extracted from its inhabitants at the time. A Time Capsule.
  • Achingly good. I want to be in 80s Berlin right now.
  • If one day a man loves me as much as this man loves Berlin, I would die a happy woman.
  • I’m exhausted from watching this movie, I guess you had to be there.
  • Exceptional. Great addition to the program this year. Lived in Berlin for many years. Extremely Nostalgic.

Sweet Smell of Success


  • Tony Curtis had all the acting chops to convey Falco’s combination of sliminess, malice, energy and charm. Great script that kept up the pace and let the short dialogue exchanges reveal the story and the subplots. Great B&W cinematography. An outstanding film of its time.
  • A  movie that is 4 parts seething disgust to 1 part open jawed admiration for these lizards slithering through the transactional jungle of mid century American capitalism.
  • it had more twists than a barrel of pretzels
  • Like a precursor to the Nouvelle Vague, shot with stunning crispness by James Wong Howe and a story which was as black as midnight on a moonless night. Welcome to Noir York.
  • Not a weak aspect from script and individual performances, through music, cinematography, and editing, to direction. Pure genius!

Never Gonna Snow Again

Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), an angelic masseur is massaging a man's back while talking to a woman in the room


  • This film was so gorgeous
  • Why should I care about these characters? There connections seemed meaningless which made the movie feel clinical and unengaging.
  • Intriguing and mesmerising.
  • Beautifully realised, with the main enigmatic character carrying the entire movie. Was this a political message about Chernobyl’s consequences? Is this a movie about mysticism, hypnotism and brain-bending techniques? Or, is is just the need for human contact in our lives?
  • I have no idea what was really going on, but it was great

The Wild Goose Lake

Poster for The Wild Goose Lake showing a couple sitting in a train


  • Great film! Sensational — aesthetic.
  • Appalling. Too violent. A waste of time.
  • I’d have liked to have given this 3.5. But couldn’t round up to 4. I am annoyed that the censor’s rating failed to mention sexual violence.
  • More-or-less worthless genre mimicry, directed by someone with far too much cowardice to embrace the unabashed angst of noir, nor the ultra-violent thrills its setup promises. Film students in the audience, I hope you were taking notes — many lessons to be learned.
  • My absolute favourite type of film is a 2010 Chinese neo-noir in which darkly comic violence unfolds against the backdrop of neon-lit, crumbling urban landscapes. Throw in a Boney M dance number and you got yourself one of the best films of the past decade.


Hatidze Muratova, tending to her bees, in “Honeyland.”


  • Beautiful but bleak insight into survival and living with, or against, one’s environment
  • Thought provoking on sustainable farming practices and it’s interaction with capitalism
  • Despite the stunning cinematography and sympathetic depiction of a traditional culture I felt uncomfortable with the romanticisation of the poverty it portrayed.
  • Beautiful, haunting, sad, uplifting
  • Brilliant. Demonstrates what film societies are about.


Holly Hunter as Helen Remington looking toward camera from back seat of a car in Crash film


  • Challenging. From reaction of total quiet in the theatre during the movie and loudest chatter after, we all felt complicit to have been so invested / engrossed.
  • Love the bravery guys, would love to see more stuff like this in the future!
  • I guess we had to go through this phase as the moral barriers to film-making were coming down, but it sure isn’t that interesting. Cronenberg has done much better both before and after!
  • Beautifully filmed, the moving car sequences particularly were magic to the extent we believed it was made in ordinary motorway traffic. All praise one of the masters of unease – Cronenberg
  • Deliriously dangerous and delicious. Without caring about the characters’ backstories, sublime film-making drew us into their depraved and dreamlike world.

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?


  • Great fun, heaps of terrible puns, Jayne obviously having the time of her life. With a cameo appearance from Groucho Marx and the de rigueur mid-comedy movie song it made for a fun evening.
  • A very funny, refreshing film, despite obvious mores of the time. Who else noticed Tony Randall’s mirthful dancing scene? A hint of Mr Bean.
  • An all white cast, apart from the stereotypical happy-go-lucky musicians, performing humour that hasn’t aged well. Not saved by some genuinely funny moments, reading Peyton Place in the bath for example.
  • Fizzy fun that has travelled through time far better than anyone probably expected.
  • Breaking the 4th wall, if not the glass ceiling, this is a confection of sweetness and squeals, that might just be a lesson in our own self-absorbed society.


A crowded press conference seen from behind the woman being questioned


  • Such a brilliant doco.
  • Devastating. An unrelentingly sad story, from start to finish, but utterly compelling and fascinating. Very well paced.
  • Devastating and maddening. A reminder of what a scourge corruption is and the necessity of accountability in government.
  • Really not worth ranking at all. Please ditch the dreary documentaries in future. No one’s interested in watching dismal reportage, just creative and innovative film-making.
  • Thanks for showing this excellent, deeply disturbing yet compelling documentary.

The Big Steal

Australian actor Steve Bisley plays the part of a slimy secondhand car salesman in "The Big Steal"


  • I couldn’t believe I’d never seen this Aussie movie before – what a gem!.
  • This movie was a delight! So many surprisingly laugh out loud moments with Danny’s parents absolutely stealing every scene they were in!
  • Best scene for me – When Marshall Napier stands in the backyard screaming, as the VLine train goes past and the neighbour’s dogs howl – classic Film Victoria.
  • Stunningly silly. Good natured fun Gr8 to share a comedy with a crowd.
  • Loved everything thing about this!

Pigs and Battleships


  • Absurdist romp through early 60s Japan. A tale of best laid plans gone wrong. Loved every minute.
  • Stunning use of Cinemascope frame, spinning cameras, and endless backing dolly shots without tracks.
  • Might be missing some of the cultural references. Great performances from the two leads
  • I really couldn’t stand this film. There was a compelling story in there somewhere but it was totally lost behind the 3-Stooges-level slapstick and over the top performances.
  • Crazy ending! But ultimately not for me!

Smash Palace


  • Great!
  • Objectively super great! But I didn’t really like it. Way too stressful for me!
  • Not only is it great to see a kiwi story, but it stands the test of time.  Separation is never easy, and the beauty of this is it tells the tale from all sides. Of course Bruno Lawrence and Greer Robson are the standouts. Ultimately the drama is so realistic and you can see all viewpoints.  More like this please!
  • No doubt an important film in the kiwi historical canon. However, in 2023 hard to feel any attachment to a character who instigates sexual violence.
  • It’s an incredibly fine line Roger Donaldson and star Bruno Lawrence tread, depicting an abusive spouse with a tone of legitimate humour that successfully humanises an increasingly sociopathic and potentially revolting ‘Man Alone’ character. The film is also considerably enriched by the utterly charming juvenile performance by young Greer Robson, setting a gold standard for the winningest child roles.

Spaceship Earth


  • Stunning insight. Though based on archival film with all its flaws, it presented its defence of the project in an apparently neutral manner. Wanted to hear from Bannon and Bass the apparent villains
  • Fascinating, if remaining a bit “surface level” relative to inter-personal relations and the project’s achievements. Was keeping an eye out for a cannabis plantation in the bio-sphere
  • Capitalism meets idealism and it doesn’t go well for either
  • Please stick to movies – no more American “documentaries” (they just don’t know how to do them)
  • Love good documentaries – more please! Amazing what free thinking hippies and a billionaire backer can achieve. This is the kind of billionaire I’d be.

My Brilliant Career


  • Wonderful to see this Australian classic for the first time on the big screen. Judy Davis absolutely shines. Glorious cinematography! So happy.
  • Hats off to Sybylla for shunning a man and marriage for her writing and aspirations for a bigger life.
  • “Loneliness is a terrible price to pay for independence”
  • Pride and Prejudice with possums!
  • Stunning performance from Judy Davis, It took me quite a while to even recognise her. This, her second film, must have propelled her to future stardom because she lights up the screen here.
  • Absolutely loved it! Such a fantastic film!

Ace in the Hole


  • Great to see this absorbing, cynical, prescient movie for their first time. Wilder and Douglas are in top form and it was wonderful to see Porter Hall demonstrate his class as the local editor.
  • Excellent mix of drama, comedy and craziness, perhaps only Billy Wilder could have pulled this off. Oh, and that triple slap!!!!!
  • Savage. The relentlessness of the carnival that couldn’t stop was great.
  • The clothing and hairstyles may change but media circuses never go out of fashion!
  • Take note all ye public sector spin doctors of Wellington.



  • Social studies brought to life and paving the way for understanding today’s unrest in Senegal, in this emotional and fascinating snapshot of this society in the sixties.
  • Another depressing depiction of a way of life that is the sad reality for many Africans struggling under neo-colonialism. Nice restoration of an important film.
  • So interesting to see a slice of the global past we rarely see. Different culture but the theme and the humanity are universal.
  • Amazing how bureaucratic nightmares can be so cross cultural.
  • Excellent!



  • Loved it on the big screen. Beautifully composed and shot film.
    Made me miss my girlhood friends.
  • Loved this with the intensity of a thousand suns. Please play more Celine Sciamma films. True Cinéma bb!!
  • Slow burner but fitting denouement made it worth sticking with the journey.
  • Empowering, beautiful film
  • This is why I joined Film Soc!  Deftly told story of the tragic cycle of dead ends for those with few options, overlaid with the strength and support that comes from finding your tribe. Five stars!

Sleeping Dogs


  • Such an interesting piece of Aotearoa cinema history, with plenty of political resonances that still feel fresh and sharp
  • Brilliant how well the film has aged. The time in which it is set does little to detract from suspending reality and allowing the viewer to enter the world of turmoil and tyranny. The cinematography A+.
  • I wanted to laugh a lot during the movie, but the rest of the audience seemed to be taking it seriously.
  • I couldn’t believe that the people behind me were actually laughing! Yes, the film is a time capsule and shows NZ when it was less ‘sophisticated’, but the plot itself is very current. People are still easily manipulated by fear and don’t see through empty promises until it is too late…
  • What a stunning restoration and a groundbreaking feature film of which we should all feel proud. Michael Seresin’s cinematography popped on the big screen and Sam Neill was always destined for stardom.

Tokyo Drifter


  • Narratively sparse to the point of almost being surreal played out with a texture you can almost feel through the screen.
  • I still can’t get over the multiple commercial breaks in the film, but what a riotous good time overall!
  • Odd. But entertaining
  • A visual and stylistic treat, and a cooler Japanese cousin of both Godard’s gangster froth and ABC’s Batman TV hijinks
  • Styley, stylistic and sexy, with lots of laughs.

The Night of the Hunter


  • Ominous and perplexing throughout. The score was agitating in a good way!
  • This director really understands something about trauma uncommon for films of this time. What a gorgeous reverie!
  • Great to see a classic on the big screen. Had a surprisingly slapstick quality to it. While Mitchum chews the scenery, the child actors were great!
  • A very stylized and over the top movie. But amazing cinematography and what a creepy guy
  • Awesome to see a bunch of fantastic performances; the tension was riveting; the photography was beautiful in a fairy-tale way (were there a ton of composite shots? What a fascinating style). Classics on the big screen is what brought me back to the Film Society.



  • So thrilled to finally see this on the big screen, what an absolute triumph!
  • I think the entire audience at The Embassy tonight was seduced by Keith Carradine singing I’m Easy.
  • More 70s auteur-type films please!
  • Sensational!
  • Top ten movie ever? The Great American Movie? Both seem kind of reasonable in the afterglow of the screening!

King of Jazz


  • Very proto-Busby Berkeley in some of the dance numbers. Great to see a very young Bing Crosby, with his instantly recognisable voice.
  • It was supposed to showcase great America music but the music was mostly terrible. The skits were appalling. It felt a bit like an early version of America’s Got Talent. Please don’t stop playing the classics though!
  • One black person – a little girl in a movie about jazz!!! That kind of says it all!
  • Excruciating and appalling, worst film this year – sexist, racist and just vile, it looked and sounded truly awful, what a disaster : (
  • Made too long ago to be a culture I can really understand, but too recent for me to be able to accept the weird sentimentality and racism underlying it as being simply “just how things were back then”.

Criss Cross


  • Great movie, thanks heaps
  • A predictable story line saved by the cinematography, the highlight being the nightclub scene when Tony Curtis is dancing with Anna to “Jungle Fantasy” performed by Esy Morales and his Rhumba Band.
  • THAT ending! More ham than on a Christmas buffet. Glad I watched it in the cinema- Miklós Rózsa’s music was outstanding.
  • Beautiful restoration
  • I really hope Noir-vember is a recurring theme!

Thieves Like Us


  • Two great stars and memorable character actors.
  • Pretty cool narrative with some zany heist ideas. Maybe Shelley Duvall reprised her iconic scream Queen sensation in “The Shining” from this movie?
  • Exquisite evocation of Depression-era morality with luminous performances and cinematography making up for the languid pace.
  • The story was skilfully told, but I didn’t find any connection or empathy …
  • Shelley Duvall slugging back Coke after Coke is everything


The Killers

Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster in a scene from The Killers


  • Man dies first reel. People ask, “What’s the deal?”
  • The kind of shadowy chiaroscuro that only the big screen can do justice to.
  • Can’t beat that with a stick – loved the one-take heist, the Citizen Kane-like structure, and the two beautiful leads …
  • Great to watch – reminded me of way films were made – very masculine with token woman who mostly poses …
  • Fortunately the script only used the word Betelgeuse once.


Utu Redux


  • Very reminiscent of Leone’s underrated Duck You Sucker/Once Upon a Time in the Revolution.
  • So many familiar names! Such a trip down memory lane. An excellent reminder that concerns about land issues have remained a concern over the ages, and are not some 21st century invention
  • A tale… of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
  • Too many stereotypes but a powerful ending.




  • Both creepy and haunting it was a perfect Monday evening Halloween screening.
  • This was beautiful and tense in equal measure, I kept forgetting to breathe.
  • Would like to mark it down a few percentage points for the supernatural stuff – but it WAS well done 🙂
  • Not only visually interesting and highly atmospheric, but also managed to maintain our narrative attention to the end.
  • Did you know that the Oslo opera house is designed so in winter you can ski down its roof?


Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains


  • Excellent film, thank you. Fascinating picture of the interplay of traditional attitudes, poverty and an unsupportive governmental structure!
  • Boring. No redeeming cinematic virtues beyond interminably long takes. Besides, Ozu did it much better over seventy years ago.
  • Exceptional movie
  • First character- the river
    Second character- money
    Third character  – food.
  • Magnificent


Elevator to the Gallows


  • Captivating opening shot of Florence on the phone accompanied by Miles Davis’ sultry music had me hooked.
  • What a brilliant movie from Louis Malle. A thriller murder mystery with plenty of twists, turns and comedic moments. The audience loved it!!
  • One star for the cool cars. The rest was too silly for words.
  • I will leave the house ANY DAY to watch Jeanne Moreau wandering through Paris’ lonely streets. What didn’t this film have! Beautiful ode to Hitchcock.
  • The soundtrack is perfection




  • Fabulous and spectacular – what a treat, worth waiting 2 years for : )
  • The music was phenomenal! (And the visuals, although I would love to see a restored version)
  • Just simply amazing. The musical score complemented the film in an extraordinary manner.
  • I’d sell my soul for more live cinema in Wellington.
  • An incredible evening of film and music.






  • No acting; story jumps about; gloomy view of the human condition; but captivating viewing.
  • Incredible. Thanks so much for screening this
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the movie – it had a mysterious Claude Chabrol feel to the direction for me. Both unnerving and sinister.


You will die at 20


  • Films from unseen places are always appreciated
  • Wonderful movie, so beautiful to look at and such an engaging story.


Dance, Girl, Dance


  • Seldom has a film so consistently ludicrous been so entertaining
  • The melodrama! The tremulous closeups! The fruity accents! There was much to love here.
  • Great to see this kind of subversion of Hollywood cinema. Arzner could only have got away with it at RKO!
  • Wonderful entertainment and loved O’Hara’s two ‘speeches’ on stage and in court – bravo!




  • Those colours!
  • Great storytelling ably supported by massive pops of colour.




  • Interesting but not particularly riveting  (from a 3 star voter)
  • Oh he was such a rotter but I couldn’t help liking him anyway.  The love of a good woman sorted him out – maybe? (from a 4 star voter)
  • Great to see Bresson in top form and looking forward to ‘L’Argent,’ also the Altman films.  Let’s have more of these classics by such wonderful dead directors. How about Roeg? (from a 5 star voter)


Under Snow


  • Such a cozy, gentle film
  • If I had watched it on a tv I might have wandered away during its occasional longueurs. But on the big Embassy screen I was totally committed and loved the slightly mysterious mix of legend and cultural tourism. And the snow! I dreamt in white that night.
  • I loved this movie. Its slow, meditative pace forced me to slow down with it. I can’t remember having such a strange, pleasant movie-watching experience as this one. Thanks for programming this!