The 2020 New Zealand International Film Festival is premiering this weekend – with a twist. This year the platform comes to you! The Whānau Mārama programme hosts feature films and short shoots from all over the world including exclusive premieres.

This year’s festival, although mostly online, does not disappoint. With debuts straight from Sundance and international film festivals, to new kiwi exclusives. There’s something for everyone – we share a couple of our favourite picks from this year’s jam-packed programme.


The Girl on The Bridge – Directed by Leanne Pooley
Premiering at this year’s festival, The Girl on The Bridge is the latest feature film from well known documentary filmmaker Leanne Pooley. The film follows Jazz Thornton from her own struggles with suicide to becoming a powerful mental health advocate today, while tackling head on the emotional and taboo subject.
Premiere: 26th July. Rental: 27th July – 1st August. Rated RP15.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2020 Various Directors
The Māori Pasifika Shorts 2020 picks include seven different short films on the line-up, curated by Leo Kozioi ((Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka) and Craig Fasi (Niue). From a Māori elder in Purea to a Pasifika artist in I Am the Moment to Maori drag queens in Gurl to a powerful story of loss in Emily – there is truly a good variety of short films to get amongst in one go!
Premiere: 27th July. Rental: 28th July – 2nd August. Rated M.

Coded Bias – Directed by Shalini Kantayya
American director and environmental activist Shalini Kantayya tackles racial bias alongside computer scientist and digital activist Joy Buolamwini who explore why facial recognition software “does not ‘see’ dark-skinned faces”. Coded Bias takes on the algorithms who have it all wrong.
Rental: 30th July – 5th August.

LOIMATA, The Sweetest Tears – Directed by Anna Marbrook
Follow waka builder and captain Lilo Ema Siope’s final journey – one of voyaging, spirituality, migration, healing and coming home. Director Anna Marbook is known for their factual Pacific-themed on-screen work and LOIMATA is no different.
Premiere: 2nd August. Rental 3rd – 8th August. Rated M.

Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club – Directed by Eammon Ashton-Atkinson
The World’s First Gay Rugby Club is the debut documentary from New York-based Australian news reporter Eammon Ashton-Atkinson. Steelers follows the players on the road to the championship from a club which dates back to 1995 when the original gay rugby club was formed. The UK film shows a team playing for pride and allows their stories to shine.
Premieres: 27th July. Rental available 28th July – 2nd August.

Some Kind of Heaven – Directed by Lance Oppenheim
Dubbed as ‘Disneyland for Retirees’ – Some Kind of Heaven brings the largest retirement community in the world to the screen. The Villages in Florida provide the backdrop for director Lance Oppenheim’s debut documentary which is said to give its residents “the American dream in their golden years.”
Premiere: 29th July. Rental 30th July – 4th August. Rated M.

A Year Full of DramaDirected by Marta Pulk
Imagine if you got paid to sit in a theatre and watch and review shows for a year? Hundreds of applicants flood in but it is 21-year-old Alissija who is selected. “One year and 224 shows later, she is a changed woman.”
Rental: 27th July – 2nd August. Languages: Estonian and Russian with English subtitles.

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) – Directed by Monica Zanetti
Award-winning director Monica Zanetti brings her film to the festival after the flick won the Audience Award at Mardi Gras Film Festival 2020. This modern-day rom-com sees a girl pursuing her high school crush with the help of the ghost of her queer activist Aunt. 
Premiere: 1st August. Rated M.

My Little Sister – Directed by Veronique Reymond and Stephanie Chuat
The award-winning directors’ new film showcases the huge bond between twin siblings Sven and Lisa. After a life-changing illness changes the path, they will move heaven and earth to get back to where they love.
Rental: 25th July – 31st July. Languages: English, French and German with English subtitles.

Drama Girl Directed by Vincent Boy Kars
“If you could star in the film of your life, how would you rewrite the script?” Dutch director Vincent Boy Kars presents his second film feature, Drama Girl follows leading lady Leyla de Muynck in finding closure from major life experiences.
Rental: 28th July to 3rd August. Rated M. Languages: Dutch with English subtitles


The Whanau Marama NZ International Film Festival 2020 programme is available digitally now with all films showing on allocated times and days between 24th July and 8th August, all of the details you need to know are on their website.

From tour managing boybands to working massive events and interviewing international talent, Hazel is in love with the craziness that is the entertainment industry.