Tonight marks the launch of the 45th New Zealand International Film Festival’s programme, and I got to go along to a little something-something at the Paramount Cinema as part of Art Murmurs.
It was nice, you know. There was a presentation of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, and beforehand there was free beer, chicken wings and conversation with softly-spoken middle-aged people.
Festival director Bill Gosden spoke before the movie showing, noting that the festival had completely changed in the last twenty years.
Now, we centre our own films as much as we can, rather than showing a little Cannes festival down under, he said.
It was lovely to see that promise evidenced in print as well – Poi E, a documentary on our “national anthem – the one you can dance to” is opening the festival, and an adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal is its centrepiece.
There is still a selection of independent films from the Americas, Asia and Europe, including the Palme d’Or winner from Cannes this year: Ken Loach’s I, Daniel.
But the festival remains essential by showcasing fresh New Zealand talent, with eight new kiwi films having their premiere this year, as well as two collections of short films: New Zealand’s Best 2016, and Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2016.
This festival is important for young filmmakers in New Zealand – it’s where they can first make it. It’s also an opportunity for us to see ourselves on-screen, lots. Neither of these things can be under-estimated, and it’s why I continue to free my evenings for the NZIFF. That, and the heart-in-mouth flush that happens to your body when a movie is really good, even for just half a scene.
Art Murmurs will be reviewing as much as we can over the fest, which runs from 22 July-7 August.