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Ismail Basbeth, Indonesia, 2015, not rated, 80 mins

Asa is the daughter of a seer. To escape her mother’s clutches, she lives hidden in a forest with her lover Laras. One day, she is collected by a dog, who turns out to be a man sent by her mother.

Moving between reality, fantasy, absurdism and symbolic representation, director Basbeth has crafted a strangely alluring sensual fairy-tale in which quotidian objects and places take on magical qualities. No words need be spoken here.


Rebecca Tansley, New Zealand, 2015, not rated, 79 mins

Enthralled, like its hero, by the turmoil, lyricism and sheer melodic grandeur of one of the most beloved works in the Romantic piano repertoire, Rebecca Tansley’s documentary recounts the voyage through life and music of Italian-born Auckland pianist Flavio Villani. From picking out TV jingles on a rusty keyboard as a child to his debut in his home town playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, his path has been circuitous but purposeful.

Villani’s modestly avowed assurance and his easy intimacy with the filmmaker make him an entirely winning subject even when he’s not channelling Rachmaninoff. The more he talks about the concerto, the easier it is to see what a vivid and exhilarating existence he’s found within it. Watching and hearing him live it in the film’s last act is a joyous consummation indeed.

“The title conveys the project’s essence: a pianist’s first concerto performance is a rite of passage and Villani gives us a real sense of what a spiritual challenge it is to understand the music before you can play it. Tansley never loses sight of that and the finale, which includes the entire third movement, feels like an ecstatic sigh. Lovely.” – NZ Herald

Ida Lupino, USA, 1953, M, 71 mins
In this relentlessly suspenseful thriller two men on a fishing trip pick up a stranded motorist who turns out to be a ruthless psychopath on the run from police.

In 1949 husky-voiced actress Ida Lupino, fed up with watching others do “all the interesting work” on set, formed her own production company. Over the next few years she helmed a handful of melodramas but really came into her own with The Hitch-Hiker, her finest work as a director. There’s nary a femme in sight, let alone a femme fatale, but this tight desert noir is refreshingly free of macho self-glorification and is confident in its handling of the emotional states of its protagonists.

“Absolutely assured in her creation of the bleak, noir atmosphere – whether in the claustrophobic confines of the car, or lost in the arid expanses of the desert – Lupino never relaxes the tension for one moment.” – Time Out

Ira Sachs, USA, 2014, M, 94 mins

After nearly four decades together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when George loses his job soon after, the couple must sell their apartment and live apart until they can find a new home. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements.

Ira Sachs’s movie is without doubt a romance, but it’s certainly not a conventional one bound by the standard tropes. There’s no meet-cute, no build towards the big sex scene, no hurdle to overcome no persistent or embarrassing exes. Held aloft by the performances of John Lithgow and Alfred Molina it is instead a simple and graceful tribute to the beauty of commitment.

“I can’t say enough about how smart and clear-eyed it is. And moving: I’m wiping tears off my keyboard as I type this.” – Grantland

Pietra Brettkelly, New Zealand, 2015, not rated, 91 mins

The fourth feature-length offering from New Zealand documentary filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly is her most ambitious project yet. A Flickering Truth follows charismatic filmmaker Ibrahim Arify as he returns from exile to his native Afghanistan with the intention of restoring thousands of hours of Afghan films for the nation.
Film was outlawed by the Taliban government, and although they have now been deposed their threat remains, particularly in the continuing suicide bombings in Kabul. Arify’s task is not easy and his frustration is immediately felt as he struggles to unearth reels of film – some literally dug out of collapsing barns, and others hidden in ceilings and discovered by pure chance. He must also deal with a workforce often too scared to act after so many years of oppression.
As the project slowly comes to fruition, the importance of his work hits home: a collection of newly restored films is toured around the country, and rows and rows of spellbound faces – many seeing film for the first time – experience their own country’s rich artistic culture and history.