Films with SWANA roots to watch at the upcoming New Zealand International Film Festival

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) announced its full programme for 2022, with the festival making its highly anticipated return to The Civic for the Opening Night Gala in Tāmaki Makaurau on Thursday 28 July.
Films with SWANA roots to watch at the upcoming New Zealand International Film Festival

It was just last week that the New Zealand International Film Festival announced a few gems from the MENA included in its initial lineup, straight from Cannes.

Now they have finally unveiled their entire programme and included are films like the Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain starrer The Forgiven, which takes place in Morocco, as well as Ana Lily Amirpour's hippie trippy cool masterpiece of a film Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, starring Kate Hudson, along with A Tale of Love and Desire by Leyla Bouzid, a filmmaker we love.

You may be thinking we at MIME are stretching it a bit with these titles, but concentrating on the MENA region actually gives us a focus on works that are from the Middle East but also could be filmed and featured there. The great thing about the Region these days is that it is the grandest it has ever been, and the borders are finally beginning to fade, in favour of a globalized view of the future. Which also included Israel in the conversation. Because without dialogue, there is no peace, and cultural diplomacy should always lead the way.

In fact, because of Israel being included in the MENA, another gem we would like to mention in our list is Ari Folman's Where Is Anne Frank? which NZIFF describes as "a gloriously animated fantasy reimagining of Anne Frank’s story from the lauded director of The Congress (NZIFF 2013) and Waltz with Bashir (NZIFF 2008)." Folman is the Israeli writer and director whose Waltz with Bashir was nominated for an Oscar and his re-imagining of the story of Anne Frank is at once dream-inducing and heart-breaking.

After making its highly anticipated return to The Civic for the Opening Night Gala in Tāmaki Makaurau on Thursday 28 July, NZIFF, will follow by having subsequent Opening Night Galas at The Embassy Theatre, Te Whanganui-a Tara-on Thursday 4 August, Isaac Theatre Royal, Ōtautahi on Friday 5 August, and Rialto Cinemas, Ōtepoti on Thursday 11 August, before opening in nine other regions around the country throughout August. If in person is now a term we love to use for film festivals, the NZIFF is running an expanded, all around the country version of the festival, celebrating the first year since the pandemic that New Zealand has returned to a completely new normal.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our 2022 programme – as well as having an outstanding collection of films from Aotearoa, our international selection is packed with award-winning, critically acclaimed films from all around the world. We look forward to presenting our programme to audiences around the country and we thank New Zealanders for their continued support of the festival,” says NZIFF General Manager Sally Woodfield. “It feels particularly momentous to celebrate NZIFF’s return to Tāmaki Makaurau at the city’s iconic venue The Civic after a pandemic-inflicted hiatus, and we’re thrilled to be kicking off proceedings with the World Premiere of local filmmaker Tearepa Kahi’s much anticipated action-drama Muru.

As previously announced, Muru will open Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin festivals, while American filmmaker Sara Dosa’s lauded documentary Fire of Love will open in all other festival locations. Dosa’s portrait of two intrepid French volcanologists, skillfully constructed from amazing archival footage collected from ground-breaking volcanic expeditions, comes to the festival following the film making a major splash at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d'Or-winning Triangle of Sadness will bookend the festival programme in all centres.

Maryam Touzani's The Blue Caftan featuring Saleh Bakri and Lubna Azabal will screen in the festival, as will Boy From Heaven by Tarek Saleh featuring Tawfeek Barhom -- both films fresh from screening in Cannes. Joyland by Saim Sadiq was the winner of this year’s Queer Palme in Cannes, and tells the story of a married man who falls for a glamorous trans dancer in this intense love story from the Pakistani first-time writer-director.

The New Zealand International Film Festival will take place this year from 28 July to 31 August, in cities around NZ.

For full details of all the films screening at NZIFF 2022 and to view a digital edition of the programme, visit To find out more about when tickets will be on sale at the various festival locations, click here.

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