Film is massively influential in how we perceive other cultures and environments, and can be a great way of enhancing our awareness of the global community. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at just how international the NZ International Film Festival is. Thankfully, you can browse movies according to their country of origin. The conclusion: It’s very international.

To get a sense of just how global the NZIFF is this year, check out the map below: hover over each country to see how many features and/or documentaries it has in this years’ Festival, and click on the country to be taken to the corresponding NZIFF profile.

That looks like some pretty good coverage! There are features and documentaries from 52 countries  – representing almost 61% of the worlds population, and 16% of the entire surface of the Earth. This is ramped up to 57 countries when you include all of the shorts.  The only continent that’s been missed out entirely is Antarctica (come on Antarctica, get your act together). Notably, there’s only one country from the African continent (Tunisia, As I Open My Eyes).

The weighting of films lies heavily with France and the USA, however it’s worth noting that there are double ups (and even triple or quadruple ups) on these numbers: many films are the result of cross-border cooperation or collaboration (e.g., a film crew from one country shoots in another), and are therefore counted to each country that had a part in its production. For some examples of some of these, check out the movies below:

The Wounded Angel

France/Germany/Kazakhstan In Kazakh with English subtitles

The last movie I saw that had anything to do with Kazakhstan was Borat which, after careful examination and much deliberation, I concluded may not be an entirely accurate depiction of the nation. Emir Baigazin’s The Wounded Angel, on the other hand, is a thoughtful exploration of youth in this far-flung and oft-overlooked region of the world. The NZIFF has tied this motif back to little old New Zealand by screening the short film Skin beforehand. Luke Thornborough’s first entry into the NZIFF is of a thematically similar strain, so it will be interesting to compare and contrast the experiences of young masculinity across the cultural and physical divides.

Under the Sun

Czech Republic/Germany/Latvia/North Korea/Russia In Korean with English subtitles

Described by Variety as an “awkwardly revealing act of subversion”, Under the Sun is a deep-cover doco that seeks to uncover life in one of the worlds most reclusive and brutally repressive nations.  Made right under the noses of the film crews’ intrusive handlers, it serves as a reminder that there are some places in the world where an event like the NZIFF would simply be unthinkable.

The Land of the Enlightened

Afghanistan/Belgium/Germany/Ireland/The Netherlands In English, Farsi, Kyrgyz, Pashto,Russian, Uzbek and Wakhi with English subtitles

This is an excellent example of what the Festival is all about (and by my counting, features the most number of languages or dialects spoken in any film at the NZIFF this year). Brought to the screen by Pieter-Jan De Pue, The Land of the Enlightened was a project 7 years in the making. Its stunning cinematography captures the lives of roaming bands of armed Afghan children as they survive on nothing but their guile and cunning. Winner of this year’s Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography, this one is not to be missed.


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