persona non grata festival

About The Festival

Academy Cinemas is proud to present Persona Non Grata - a new retrospective film series looking at the best of classic thriller, horror and art cinema that defines, distorts and disrupts identity in fascinating ways. We selected ten features that, despite their Hollywood leanings or genre trappings, have a distinctive uncanny feeling, whether through narrative eccentricities or novel filmic techniques.



Discarding one's identity, like a shedding of skin, is one of the running themes of Persona Non Grata, with the bandaged Humphrey Bogart and Rock Hudson seeking to start anew in the experimental noir Dark Passage and the trippy sci-fi Seconds. Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni also puts his own idiosyncratic stamp on this in The Passenger with Jack Nicholson, probably the most enigmatic, tonally unique Hollywood chase movie ever made.


On the flipside, in Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Roman Polanski’s The Tenant, we have two films where changing identities leads to far more unnerving results. An oppressive paranoia smothers both films as characters seem to change overnight and close friends and acquaintances grow inexplicably hostile. Both films provide biting commentary on the contemporary malaise of inner-city relationships in the 1970s.


Olivia de Havilland and Jeremy Irons provide bravura turns portraying another trope of identity horror in Robert Siodmak’s Dark Mirror and David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers respectively: twins! In both films, this doubling allows for a good-bad binary to become distorted as the identical siblings switch places and a growing storminess in the relationship leads to an outpouring of violence.


Opening Night and Closing Night features what are likely the most confounding, yet beguiling depictions of ‘Identity Horror’ in the festival. Intimate female relationships examined in detail take centre stage in Robert Altman’s 3 Women and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, to the point they seem to merge and split. It’s a testament to the strength of these filmmakers that they are able to depict such concepts within films that many consider their masterpieces. 


Perhaps the most under-seen gem of the line-up is Mario Bava’s purgatorial giallo-gothic Lisa & the Devil: our Centrepiece screening. Never quite what you initially perceive it to be, the film is a haunting tone poem on the inability to escape ourselves, which slowly emerges through its schlocky slasher thrills. 


Each entry in our film series will have both a Friday or Saturday evening session and a Sunday matinée encore, with sessions spaced out among two months. University of Auckland Lecturers Dr. Misha Kavka, Professor Bernadette Luciano and Film Director Jake Mahaffy will be on hand at select screenings to help unpick the existential riddles these films present by providing an introduction and a short Q+A following the screenings.


Curated by Gorjan Markovski

Festival Artwork designed by Valentina Espinoza-Cacéres

IHFF: 3 Women

Shy and impressionable Pinky strikes up a friendship with her fellow nurse Thoroughly Modern Millie. As the two spend more time together Pinky becomes dependent on Millie, adopting aspects of her personality and appearance. Things take an unusual and darker turn as Pinky discovers Millie with a man, a local bar owner whose wife forms the third of the title’s three women.

IHFF: 3 Women

Shy and impressionable Pinky strikes up a friendship with her fellow nurse Thoroughly Modern Millie. As the two spend more time together Pinky becomes dependent on Millie, adopting aspects of her personality and appearance. Things take an unusual and darker turn as Pinky discovers Millie with a man, a local bar owner whose wife forms the third of the title’s three women.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Dead Ringers

Elliot and Beverly are world-renowned gynaecologists and identical twins. Both are troubled by the seemingly unbreakable bond between them as they share everything from their clinic to their women - until they meet Claire. Whilst Elliot enjoys seducing her, Beverly falls in love and wishes to break away from his brother in order to become closer to her. However, as his attempt to love unravels, so does his sanity and it becomes apparent that the twins are bonded by madness as well as blood

IHFF: Dead Ringers

Elliot and Beverly are world-renowned gynaecologists and identical twins. Both are troubled by the seemingly unbreakable bond between them as they share everything from their clinic to their women - until they meet Claire. Whilst Elliot enjoys seducing her, Beverly falls in love and wishes to break away from his brother in order to become closer to her. However, as his attempt to love unravels, so does his sanity and it becomes apparent that the twins are bonded by madness as well as blood
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

This remake of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. When his friend complains of her husband's strange mood, Matthew Bennell assumes it's a marital issue. However, he begins to worry as more people report similar observations. His concern is confirmed when writer Jack Bellicec and his wife discover a mutated corpse. Besieged by an invisible enemy, Bennell must work quickly before the city is consumed.

IHFF: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

This remake of the classic horror film is set in San Francisco. When his friend complains of her husband's strange mood, Matthew Bennell assumes it's a marital issue. However, he begins to worry as more people report similar observations. His concern is confirmed when writer Jack Bellicec and his wife discover a mutated corpse. Besieged by an invisible enemy, Bennell must work quickly before the city is consumed.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Seconds

John Frankenheimer directs Rock Hudson as a’ second’: that is, a plastic-surgery recreation, of a banker named Arthur Hamilton. Such procedures are carried out by a secret organization known only as The Company, with the promise of giving an individual a chance at making a fresh start at life... but at what cost?

IHFF: Seconds

John Frankenheimer directs Rock Hudson as a’ second’: that is, a plastic-surgery recreation, of a banker named Arthur Hamilton. Such procedures are carried out by a secret organization known only as The Company, with the promise of giving an individual a chance at making a fresh start at life... but at what cost?
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Dark Passage

After being falsely convicted of murdering his wife, Vincent Parry escapes San Quentin and shacks up with Irene Jansen, a woman whose innocent father died in prison. Undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance, Vincent sets off on the hunt for the real killer under a new identity.

IHFF: Dark Passage

After being falsely convicted of murdering his wife, Vincent Parry escapes San Quentin and shacks up with Irene Jansen, a woman whose innocent father died in prison. Undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance, Vincent sets off on the hunt for the real killer under a new identity.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Persona

A young nurse and her patient, an actress who has mysteriously gone mute, retreat to a seaside cottage to aid the actress's rehabilitation, but the intimacy embroils them in a stranger, stronger bond.

IHFF: Persona

A young nurse and her patient, an actress who has mysteriously gone mute, retreat to a seaside cottage to aid the actress's rehabilitation, but the intimacy embroils them in a stranger, stronger bond.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: The Dark Mirror

After a doctor is murdered, Lt. Stevenson questions the man's girlfriend, Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland). Sensing that she's keeping a secret, Stevenson confronts Terry in her home, where he meets her identical twin sister, Ruth (also de Havilland). Both women appear exactly alike, sometimes even posing as each other. However, when twin expert Dr. Elliott analyzes the sisters, he finds that one twin is normal, while the other is psychotic -- but which one?

IHFF: The Dark Mirror

After a doctor is murdered, Lt. Stevenson questions the man's girlfriend, Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland). Sensing that she's keeping a secret, Stevenson confronts Terry in her home, where he meets her identical twin sister, Ruth (also de Havilland). Both women appear exactly alike, sometimes even posing as each other. However, when twin expert Dr. Elliott analyzes the sisters, he finds that one twin is normal, while the other is psychotic -- but which one?
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: The Tenant

In Paris, isolated Eastern European émigré Trelkovsky rents an apartment in a spooky old building whose inhabitants regard him with suspicion and even outright hostility. When he learns that the apartment's previous tenant, a beautiful woman, tried to commit suicide by jumping out the window, Trelkovsky begins to identify with her in increasingly disturbing ways. Then, to make matters even worse, he reaches the conclusion that his new neighbors are plotting to kill him.

IHFF: The Tenant

In Paris, isolated Eastern European émigré Trelkovsky rents an apartment in a spooky old building whose inhabitants regard him with suspicion and even outright hostility. When he learns that the apartment's previous tenant, a beautiful woman, tried to commit suicide by jumping out the window, Trelkovsky begins to identify with her in increasingly disturbing ways. Then, to make matters even worse, he reaches the conclusion that his new neighbors are plotting to kill him.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: The Passenger

David Locke - a disheartened journalist struggling to complete a documentary featuring the civil war in Chad - takes advantage of an opportunity to escape his current situation by assuming the identity of a dead man. His new life takes an unexpected turn when he learns that the man he is impersonating was involved with arms deals with Chad's rebel fighters.

IHFF: The Passenger

David Locke - a disheartened journalist struggling to complete a documentary featuring the civil war in Chad - takes advantage of an opportunity to escape his current situation by assuming the identity of a dead man. His new life takes an unexpected turn when he learns that the man he is impersonating was involved with arms deals with Chad's rebel fighters.
MORE / TRAILER

IHFF: Lisa & the Devil

Lisa - an American tourist travelling in Spain - loses her tour party and seeks refuge in the tumbledown mansion of a blind countess, after being guided there by the distinctly satanic butler of the house, Leandro. The Son of the Countess notices Lisa’s striking resemblance to his dead lover and pursues her as a night of murder, strange eroticism and dark hallucination begins.

IHFF: Lisa & the Devil

Lisa - an American tourist travelling in Spain - loses her tour party and seeks refuge in the tumbledown mansion of a blind countess, after being guided there by the distinctly satanic butler of the house, Leandro. The Son of the Countess notices Lisa’s striking resemblance to his dead lover and pursues her as a night of murder, strange eroticism and dark hallucination begins.
MORE / TRAILER
undefined