It’s no coincidence that I’m launching this blog in July. I thought it appropriate to coincide the main cinematic event of the country, the New Zealand International Film Festival with the opening of my page. NZIFF starting, here in Wellington, on the 24th July running until the 12th August, acts as a mid winter treat to many a supporter. While the Northern Hemisphere enjoys the summer heat, we can’t wait to rush into the multiple projection rooms of the NZIFF. Now this need for warm, dry, dark places is not a reflection of the cold, but instead is due to the arrival of the best in world cinema, the crème de la crème of film, that is knocking on our door.
Substancial festival for small country
The history of the New Zealand International Film Festival takes us back to the 60s, in which many cinema societies flourished on Kiwi soil. Spearheads of an alternative cinema, emphasis was placed on passionate volunteers who were frustrated not to have access to the numerous world cinematic gems. NZ was too small to be an interesting market for international buyers, and most of the films that did reach here – I’m sure I’m not teaching you anything new – were big ‘blockbusters’ as distributors were convinced that only mainstream cinema drew people into movie theaters.
Fortunately, some people believed things could change, and Auckland Film Festival was launched in 1969. Fourteen features were shown (among which new films and cult classics from Bresson, Olmi & Satyjit Ray) & over ten thousand tickets were sold. The adventure never stopped: in 1972, Wellington Film Festival grew out of the Wellington Film Society; then Dunedin and Christchurch Festivals in 1977. Trusts were then created to support the ever-growing & not-to-be-missed cinematographic events of the year , and in 2009, the different festivals became one for the first time, inaugurating the NZIFF.
To learn more about the fascinating history of the festival, click here! : http://www.nziff.co.nz/about/history/
Carefully chosen line-up
In terms of quality, the New Zealand International Film Festival is in no way inferior to the European Film Festivals. Coming soon after the Cannes Film Festival, it benefits from part of its prestigious line-up. A total of more than 150 film from 44 different countries will be presented during the festivities. A good score for the pacific island that realises its potential.
Of course, the NZIFF is the perfect festival to showcase talent in Kiwi films : a dozen of features, shorts, programme for children (mainly sponsored by the NZ Film Commision)… will be presented as World Première -at least, most of them will be brand spanking new!
It’s interesting to note that the list of American movies is huge! 54 features – a score that almost beats the sum of the movies from all the other countries put together. Actually, American movies seem particularly appreciated in NZ. In the Documentary Edge Festival last month, a majority documentaries came directly from the Sundance or the South by Southwest Film Festival line-up.
Saying that, there are also 15 films from the UK, 8 French films (2015 is definitively a good year for French Cinema), 7 Australian films… As well as many more from across the globe. You can check out the full listings at : http://www.nziff.co.nz/2015/wellington/
Having gone on about the programme, it is true that some films are a little less ‘new’ with a selection having already been presented in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival (Girlhood by Sciamma for example). Maybe this can be attributed to the ‘Jetlag effect’ but whatever the reason, who will complain that great films are benefiting from being introduced to a wider audience?
I can promise you that July in Wellington will be more than exciting! I’ll share my favourites movies, my deceptions, and who knows, may be some Kiwi scoops?!
The festival starts on the 16th of July in Auckland, arriving soon in Wellington on the 24th, it then travels around visiting more than 10 other towns across the country.