What’s On: Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 24 July – 2 August

The Opening Night film: True History of the Kelly Gang.

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival is back 24 July – 2 August. For the first time the entire programme is available online to allow film lovers to watch films from the comfort of their own home.

From the Opening Night film, True History of the Kelly Gang to the Closing Night feature The County, this year’s festival is jam-packed with cinematic treats for all – documentaries, feature films, docu-dramas, animation, the popular Incredibly Strange programme, and an expanded offering of films for children.



PLUS  in-cinema screenings will take place in eight cities around the country. More details to come.

Programme highlights include Mardi Gras Film Festival 2020 Audience Award winner Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) featuring New Zealand actor Rachel House (Bellbird, NZIFF19), Ai Weiwei’s latest documentary Vivos, Iranian blockbuster and Tokyo International Film Festival Best Director winner Just 6.5, Sundance Film Festival 2020 Audience Award (World Cinema Dramatic) winner Identifying Features, Berlin International Film Festival 2020 Teddy Award (Best LGTBQI+ Film) winner No Hard Feelings, Venice Film Festival 2019 Best First Feature winner You Will Die at Twenty, Venice Film Festival 2019 Best Film (Venice Days) winner The Long Walk, Venice Film Festival 2019 Best Actor and Toronto International Film Festival 2019 Best Film (Platform) winner Martin Eden and Palme D’Or winning director Kore-eada Hirokazu (Shoplifters, NZIFF18) returns to the Festival with French language feature The Truth, starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke.

 Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke and Catherine Deneuve, star in The Truth.


Four New Zealand documentaries will have their World Premiere screenings as part of Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 2020 At Home – Online, and at selected cinema screenings across the country.

And, for the first time ever the Festival will screen a Web Series in its entirety.

Festival Director Marten Rabarts said programming New Zealand films for the 2020 Festival has been challenging due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions which brought shooting and post-production on a number of films to a halt or caused significant delay.

“We’re very proud to present this programme of films from Aotearoa for this year’s Festival. We’ve worked closely with all the filmmakers to ensure these films can be part of the Festival.”

Marten adds that as well as screening online as part of NZIFF At Home – Online, all five Aotearoa films will also be screened in cinemas.

“As COVID-19 restrictions began lifting in New Zealand, we have been exploring options to present a selection of films in many of our favourite cinemas and venues, and this includes the five Aotearoa films.”

These five titles are the first films to be announced in the 2020 programme and we’re looking forward to revealing the full programme next week. We’ll have more details about the cinema screenings, and we’ll be letting you know how you’ll be able to watch ALL the films in the programme from the comfort of your own home.


Before Everest
“I’d never share a rope with him” is about as damning a comment as anyone can make about a fellow mountaineer. Sir Edmund Hillary’s words about Earle Riddiford in his last autobiography set the uneasy tone of this nuanced documentary by Earle’s son Richard Riddiford.
“In his final autobiography, Hillary wrote some fairly damning remarks about my father… Why had Hillary been so ungracious? … He was as close to a god as a mortal could be in our country, but it had been my father who had helped get him there.” — director Richard Riddiford

LOIMATA, The Sweetest Tears

Director Anna Marbrook honours the last voyage of the great waka maker, sailor and mentor Ema Siope in this chronicle of journeys – journeys of migration, spirituality, voyaging, healing and coming home.
“A stirring and visually gripping documentary… honouring the life and times of great woman whose wake will be felt for years to come.” — Michael Andrew, Asia Pacific Report


Premiering their forthcoming web series as a special festival presentation, director Max Currie (Everything We Loved, NZIFF14) and writer Cole Meyers’ queer and trans-positive drama swells with character, heart and filmic sophistication in ways rarely seen in the web series form. Rūrangi was previously selected for the prestigious Frameline – San Francisco LGBTQ+ Film Festival (June 2020) which was cancelled due to COVID-19.  Rūrangi is fully worthy of its Film Festival world premiere and we’re proud to be part of its journey into the world.

The Girl on the Bridge

In the increasing public discourse on mental health, Leanne Pooley’s inspiring and fearless documentary tracks an extraordinary young woman’s journey from suicide survivor to advocate for those struggling. The fact it leaves you hopeful and with tangible advice makes it vital viewing.

Tupaia’s Endeavour – The Director’s Cut

Re-edited from both the Māori Television series and with new material, Lala Rolls’ fascinating quest to examine what happens to a Tahitian high priest and navigator when he travels across the Pacific – and further on towards England as a translator and guest (or is it as a living trophy?) – aboard Captain James Cook’s HMS Endeavour.

The Aotearoa strand of films in Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival is supported by Resene.

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