The 2015 programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) - Christchurch was officially released last week.

Featuring 112 programmes handpicked from the world's finest festivals and from filmmakers closer to home, this is the biggest line-up the festival has ever had in the city.

Festival director Bill Gosden says having the Isaac Theatre Royal as well as Hoyts Northlands as venues makes this a very special year.

"After many years, we have a place of graundeur back in the central city to give NZIFF the sense of occasion it deserves - the programme had to match that."

Two New Zealand documentaries, The Art of Recovery and The Women of Pike River, will have their world premiere screenings at the Isaac Theatre Royal during NZIFF, 7 - 23 August.

The Art of Recovery, involves a good number of WIFT women - producer Tracy Roe, Executive Producer Gaylene Preston and Editor Gaylene Barnes and Christchurch filmmaker Peter Young. It captures the creative revival in central Christchurch, the global attention it is attracting and questions the 'top-down' government-led approach to the recovery. Click here to buy tickets:

http://isaactheatreroyal.co.nz/shows/the-art-of-recovery/ (paste into your browser if you have problems viewing)

While Greenstone TV production, The Women of Pike River, tells the story of six women who lost loved ones in the 2010 Pike River mining disaster offering a new insight into the tragedy.

"We are delighted to be able to include these films in our programme for Christchurch," says Bill Gosden. "Both are brave productions that deserve a huge amount of attention and recognition, we have no doubt they will get that."

As usual, there is a strong line up of international documentaries. The festival will open with a screening of Sherpa, a film by Australian director Jennifer Peedom.

"Peedom set out to capture the work of sherpas on Mount Everest during the 2014 climbing season but while her team was there in April 2014, the devastating avalanche that killed 16 sherpas hit. The documentary captures that tragedy but also looks at the relationship between cashed-up Everest expeditions and their guides - it is insightful," says Bill.

Other documentary highlights include Asif Kapadia's acclaimed Amy - an extraodinary and sensitive look at British songstress Amy Winehouse's rise to fame and the drug addiction that claimed her life; The Wolfpack which delves into the bizarrely sheltered lives of six brothers who were confined since birth to the tiny rooms of their Lower East Side apartment.

Bill Gosden says, as always, NZIFF has carefully selected films from the world's pre- eminant festivals including Sundance and Cannes.

"The Assassin, which won Hou Hsiao-hsien the Best Director Prize at Cannes will also feature...this film took nearly ten years to create and is breathaking. Chilean director Pablo

Larrain's The Club is another highlight that boldly highlights scandals in the Catholic church - it won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival."

Embrace of the Serpent follows an Amazonian shaman (the lone survivor of his tribe) through three decades - it is a stunning work that won the Director's Fortnight Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

There are also some films that are technically innovative including Victoria which was filmed in a single shot around Berlin.

"It's genuinely shot across 22 locations in a single take...amazing stuff," says Bill. "And there are films from directors who took other risks too. Cartel Land director Matthew Heineman put himself in danger to document Mexican drug cartels filming during shoot-outs and in meth labs. The work won him Directing and Cinematography Awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2015."

Aotearoa's film makers have also delivered some gems to the programme.

"NZIFF has always been proud to support the striking work that's made within our own shores and this year is no different," says Bill Gosden. "Canterbury film lovers may be interested in Philip Dadson:Sonics from Scratch by Simon Ogston and Orlando Stewart. Also Robin Greenberg's The Return of the Free China Junk that features the much loved Christchurch tai chi master Loo-Chi Hu (aka Huloo)."

And to round it all off, Bill Gosden says is a rather special double-bill.

"We have two Charlie Chaplin movies - The Kid and The Immigrant - playing back to back at the Isaac Theatre Royal accompanied by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra playing live a score written for The Kid by Chaplin himself. It will be a fantastic production."

"So overall there are plenty of reasons for Canterbury to get along to the New Zealand International Film Festival - Christchurch. We have our new venue - the Isaac Theatre Royal, the $262,000 state of the art projection and sound system that we have installed inside it to show films and an excellent programme, featuring two world premieres."

"We have no doubt that this will be our best year yet in Christchurch - with the rebuild taking shape it's an exciting time to be in the central city and we look forward to bringing even more life back to it," concludes Bill Gosden.

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