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A film festival provides lush social cushioning. For its duration, inquiring whether your companion has been to anything on the programme gets the conversation off to an ideal start. A mutual response usefully indicates compatibility. A less than desirable response indicates lack of need for further pursuit. It provides the prime opportunity to advance an awkward acquaintanceship into a flourishing friendship. Then, if you exchange enthusiastic responses to a Danish thriller about a girl who turns into a werewolf over a drink afterwards… match made in heaven. The most beautiful thing about this film festival is this exact provocation of discussion. Whether that be in what your ‘type’ of movies are, the fact your lecture timetable prevented attendance to the last session of Boyhood, or getting heated about the irony of an intellectual declaration of what is ‘truth’ in a documentary (which an academic should honestly be able to realise is an entirely subjective notion in itself). It’s the infiltration of this film-related personal dialogue, the full cinemas with full shared reactions and shared contemplation that indicates the brilliant success of this year’s NZIFF.
Upon experiencing the film festival in Wellington for the first time, there came the unexpected realisation of a need to actually book tickets in advance. It is perhaps this transient element of competition that makes a festival film so much more of an event than a movie normally is. With only a few sessions of each film, spread throughout different locations and the risk of it never seeing the light of a cinema again, it becomes survival of the culturally fittest. Generally, when experiencing your generic blockbuster in a cinema, you don’t have to share an armrest, and putting your feet on the seat in front won’t generate any social shunning. Dior and I on a Saturday afternoon, by contrast, filled the sweeping, grand Embassy cinema entirely. Numerous films were sold out before I even had the chance to work out availability, which was enormously helped by the ability to book online and the overall professional organisation of the festival in general.
With the experience of each film you belong to a different demographic. Emerge with a new-found knowledge about who you either are or aren’t. For example, in Dior and I, you either fall in love with the gorgeous right-hand man for Raf Simons, are disgusted by the excessive decadence of a room full of orchids, or feel a somewhat guilty but more wistful desperation to just wear ball dresses all day. The festival took over the city not only geographically but in providing something for everyone. The higher the number of witnessed films, the higher the dedication, the higher the social standing. Oh, the cultural capital. The fun and the dialogue is always over too soon.
New Zealand’s Best 2014 winners announced…
The third annual NZIFF New Zealand’s Best Short Film competition was dominated by Ross & Beth winning the Madman Entertainment Jury Prize for the Best New Zealand Short Film, the inaugural Allen Guilford Cinematography Award and the 2014 Audience Award. This notable short film by Hamish Bennett is a character study of ageing rural New Zealand, widely admired for its crafting and engaging poignancy. The jury consisted of Eleanor Catton, Rolf de Heer (a visiting filmmaker), and Michael Eldred, who represented Madman Entertainment. Director of short film Eleven, Abigail Greenwood was selected for the Friends of the Civic Short Film Award for distinctive creative achievement.
In other film news
There was a girl at high school who loved Daniel Radcliffe so fervently that on his birthday, she would carry around a paper bag of lollies with a picture of his dreamy face splayed on the front. We had to sing him ‘Happy Birthday’ in history. Turns out she is surprisingly not alone. Last week, the premiere of his new indie rom-com in Mexico City had to be cancelled after unexpected numbers of enthusiastic, love-declaring fans turned up to breathe in some of the air he may have walked through.
That is all.