Tag Archive for: Cannes

Poppy, edited by Jonno Woodford-Robinson (DEGANZ), has won the 2024 Cannes Écrans Seniors competition.

The feature follows Poppy Simpson, a young woman with Down Syndrome who refuses to be defined by disability and takes control of her own life. Her ambition to become a motor mechanic is stalled when her brother inherits the family garage business, preventing her from taking the apprenticeship promised to her by her late father. She then teams up with a friend from school who needs his car fixed to progress her plans.

Cannes Écrans Seniors is an annual film competition by the city of Cannes in collaboration with Cannes Cinéma. Poppy screened in a showcase highlighting films from Aotearoa and Australia and received the award from a jury of cinephiles headed by French director Emmanuelle Dubergey.

This accolade is another on the film’s long list of awards and festival screenings. Congratulations to Jonno and the team!

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“It’s bleak out there,” I’ve been saying to myself as I look out the office window each day at the weather… for weeks now. And frankly, the New Zealand screen industry at this point in time isn’t much better.

The interminable New Zealand Screen Production Rebate Review is still ongoing, no matter the announcement of minor changes to mollify discontent. Perhaps the NZ On Air funding announcements tomorrow will bring some cheer.

But the good news is that the New Zealand International Film Festival is back and in great shape, apart from the bugs that have been plaguing their website and ticketing. Hopefully, all will be sorted by the end of this week.

129 full-length films. Seven short film collections. Nine Aotearoa films having their world premiere. A lot of our members have films in there. There’s much of the best that this year’s Cannes had to offer. And a whole lot more. Going through the 2023 programme reminded me of pre-Covid selections—a wealth of the best arthouse films from around the world on offer—blessings to the late and great NZIFF festival director Bill Gosden. Which isn’t to say that Bill’s replacement Marten Rabarts didn’t make a good go of it. But he was unfortunately hit with the worst of times for cinema and film festivals—the pandemic years.

During COVID and even last year with its small programme, I was a little despondent about not having the winter thrill of sitting enthralled while tales of wonder, sorrow, drama, despair, and entertainment played out on the big screen, with audiences that collectively gasped, smiled, cried… or sometimes puzzled or were dismayed at what they were watching. That’s NZIFF for you. You’re never left unmoved by the choices they have curated.

We, too, are back with our involvement with NZIFF.

DEGANZ is working with the team at the festival on the Masterclass with Rolf de Heer and the panels for visiting directors. Check out Meet The Filmmakers, NZIFF Connect, and NZIFF Engage on page 83 of the programme.

We are also re-igniting our director hosting programme that we ran for many years prior to COVID, providing directorial collegiality and networking opportunities to those international directors accompanying their films here.

I encourage all of you to grab a programme, buy tickets and get your butts onto cinema seats while the festival is on. And don’t neglect those events we are involved with.

Welcome back, NZIFF! I have certainly missed you.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

With over 70,000 short films submitted from 44 countries, DEGANZ member Tim Hamilton’s Zero Gravity was able to beat out the competition to win the Best Edit Award at the inaugural TikTok Short Film Competition.

Tim was able to make Zero Gravity on a shoestring budget of $600 with the help of AWA Films and his colleagues at POW Studios. Speaking to TikTok, he stated how thrilled he is to see TikTok recognised as a place of storytelling and that “the most innovative filmmaking techniques you can see today come straight out of TikTok”.

TikTok launched the global #TikTokShortFilm competition in partnership with the Festival de Cannes where experienced and emerging filmmakers could demonstrate their skills with the help of TikTok’s creative tools and effects. A jury of industry leaders judged the submissions.

Watch the hilarious Zero Gravity here.

Our congratulations to Tim Hamilton!

I asked myself and my colleague whether or not I should write about the impact of the coronavirus on our industry in my regular Op Ed. I’d decided not to, then woke up to some news that has changed my mind.

CANNESERIES, the TV version of the Cannes Film Festival, has decided to postpone from April to coincide with MIPTV in October, while the Cannes Film Fest is currently going ahead as planned in May… so far. And the next in the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die (an apt title if ever there was one) has decided to move its opening slot from April to November—the only tent-pole film scheduled for this year to do so at the moment. Perhaps the studios are buoyed by the prospects of Niko Caro’s Mulan, which goes out this month in the US with a projected US$85 million opening.

In February, Paramount Pictures postponed a three-week shoot in Venice for the latest in the Mission Impossible franchise, while at Berlin, Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke (Ash Is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) told media that his next film slated for a start in April is delayed indefinitely.

The number of major entertainment companies pulling out of the SXSW Festival, due to start tomorrow, is increasing daily.

With the movie theatres empty in China, Korea and Japan, and undoubtedly so in Italy and Iran, I know I’m not the only one thinking about what this all means for the film business.

The Hollywood studios have already assembled coronavirus strategy teams and many are in contact with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Washington and the World Health Organisation (WHO), monitoring the situation. As with the James Bond and Mission Impossible films, the studios are having to consider what it all means to their production and releasing schedules, but more importantly what the overall impact is going to be to their business.

In China where the virus originated and has been impacting the longest, there have been rapid moves to deal with the theatrical ramifications. Huanxi, distributor of the Chinese blockbuster Lost in Russia, premiered the film online for free, while Enter the Fat Dragon becomes the second major Chinese film to premiere online.

I’m sure the streamers aren’t rubbing their hands with glee, but they are and will be an obvious benefactor of theatres shutting down and people being forced to stay at home… as long as subscribers can continue to afford to pay for their subscriptions.

A lot of my European film colleagues attended this February’s Berlin International Film Festival. I have already given consideration as to whether or not I will go to Cannes this year. I’ve gone for the last three, and this year the head of the new Australian Directors Guild wanted to use the opportunity for all of the English-language speaking guilds to gather. I’m most likely not going to attend as I pretty much get sick with a cold or the flu every time I come back from a European trip. I have already cancelled my trip to Seoul in April, which was to attend the second gathering of the Alliance of Asia Pacific Audiovisual Writers and Directors—an event that was postponed in February after the coronavirus outbreak in China was becoming more serious.

Back home, I was talking with a New Zealand filmmaker whose feature is due out soon and COVID-19 was certainly on his mind in regard to what, if any, effect it could have on his box office. I just learned this week that NZFC has instituted a conservative travel policy for its staff.

Officially, I haven’t heard of any strategic thinking going on in regard to New Zealand’s film and TV industries in relation to the virus, but it’s undoubtedly weighing on a few minds including ours. We will update you if any news comes in.

As I sit writing this I have just learned we have a fourth confirmed case of COVID-19. I, therefore, am providing a link here to the Ministry of Health website about the virus and what to do should you display any kind of symptoms.

Take care out there.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Every year, tens of thousands of film industry people gather in Cannes for the world’s pre-eminent display of film industry gauche and sublime—the Cannes International Film Festival.

Or at least that’s what used to happen.

According to one local property manager, apartment rentals are down 30 – 50% for 2019’s festival, and it’s becoming a trend.

Esteemed trade publication The Hollywood Reporter headlined the affliction of both the festival and the film industry in general when it titled an article on Cannes: ‘It’s Time to Roll Out the Red Carpet, But Does Anyone Care?’

Jury President Alejandro González Iñárritu essentially pointed the finger at the culprit—Netflix—pushing the festival line that you can watch movies on phones, iPads or laptops, but that’s not the theatrical experience that film is created for. And with Netflix not eligible for Cannes film selections, it highlights the widening gap between the old world of theatrical, particularly in France, and the new of streaming.

So, is Cannes surviving the onslaught of SVODs?

The general consensus is that the film industry has contracted. The mega mergers that have taken place attest to this with the number of major studios reduced to five when Disney gobbled up Fox.

The mini majors are reeling from bankruptcies, flops and lack of franchises. And the indie film world (non-studio) is struggling unless they have cast.

Cannes is quiet this year. The stars aren’t turning out and there are fewer big budget films. And supposedly the parties don’t go to 4AM anymore.

One highly experienced French producer said the independent film business is either going to get better or worse, which shows the lack of uncertainty still pervading the industry and obvious at Cannes. His hope for theatrical lies in filmmakers tiring of their films going into the black hole of SVOD digital archives, without the attending fanfare of marketing and promotion given to films headed for theatres where they are experienced as they are meant to be.

Sales agents are becoming production companies and financiers to survive in the same way that distributors have reacted to the changing conditions.

And it’s a common topic to talk about films going straight to SVOD, because it’s so difficult to get a theatrical release. In the old days, straight to DVD usually meant it was a bad film. Not the case now with its modern equivalent.

Netflix and Disney are supposedly not showing here this year, but there are definitely people from both companies on the ground. As undoubtedly are other players like Amazon and Apple.

China has a stronger presence than ever before, tempered by a shift in political climate back home, burnt fingers from past bad decisions, and a more discerning Chinese screen industry and domestic audiences. It’s not quite the saviour it’s been seen as in past years.

Cannes has been slammed for the lack of female directing talent walking the red carpet and screening their films here. The stats for 2019 aren’t great but they are up over previous years, with 26 per cent of features submitted from women, and four of the nineteen in official competition helmed by female directors. Festival head Thierry Fremaux has been touting the mostly gender balanced selection and jury panels, and the introduction of a creche for film festival attendees with kids has been a definite hit.

Cannes is changing, but it resembles an ocean-going liner trying to make a turn—it has to cover a lot of distance before it can come about.

Will it maintain its preeminent position as the biggest film festival and market in the world? Probably. But what does that really mean now with SVODs here to stay and audiences increasingly glued to their small screens. We shall see.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director