Winter Ain’t Coming, It’s Here

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House Stark could just as well have been referring to the long, cold chill settling on the domestic New Zealand screen industry right now, even though the Minister is single-handedly about to save Shortland Street, no doubt due to some serious prodding. But there’s a ray of sunshine that comes every winter in New Zealand, and that’s the NZ International Film Festival.

Festival Artistic Director Paolo Bertilin ruffled a few feathers when he arrived. He has, though, with his programming of 86 features and 19 shorts, kept the tradition of the best of contemporary cinema from New Zealand and the world alive, which was so firmly set in place by the long-serving previous director, Bill Gosden.

As is often the case, a good number of the films at NZIFF won’t get NZ releases, which is why I always make the most of it. Arthouse films just don’t get the support they used to with disruption by the streamers and Hollywood doing its best to beat us to death with franchises and killing off even the US mid-budget indie dramas.

There’s a good range of New Zealand films on offer, too, showcasing the talent we have in this country, both in features and in shorts. It’s extremely gratifying to see so many DEGANZ members names attached to films this year, with some involved with more than one.

We get to see 30 years after its first release the film that cemented Sir Peter Jackson’s directing career. Heavenly Creatures also highlights his eye for acting talent, with outstanding performances from the little-known at the time Kate Winslet and the unknown Melanie Lynskey.

DEGANZ will as usual be supporting NZIFF, with involvement in the masterclasses by visiting animation director Gints Zilbalodos. If you can’t get along to one of the masterclasses, do make an effort to see his film Flow. You’ll be well rewarded.

The Civic continues as the spiritual and literal heart of the festival in Auckland, but as usual you’ll have to put up with the loooong rows and uncomfortable chairs. It’s always worth it, though, and I never tire of looking up to watch the shooting star across the ceiling before the screening starts.

I do miss the between-movie shawarmas of Sjoerd and Marjan Rustenhoven at what was the iconic Middle East Café on Wellesley St West. They were great food for the stomach to accompany the great films for the mind and the soul that I have always found in the NZIFF programme.

It may be literally and figuratively chilly at the moment for a good many of us, but winter is the perfect time for NZIFF. Enjoy your film-watching this year and I’ll see you on the other side.

On a different note, I want to make personal mention on the passing of director Grant Campbell on Tuesday morning. Grant was on the DEGANZ board when I stepped into the role as ED. He made great contributions to the guild behind the scenes across decades, even after he stepped off the board due to his illness, by taking up a position on the ASDACS board as NZ representative for a number of years. He was full of life, full of fun and full of laughter. I will miss him. And so will many others.

Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

Last updated on 4 July 2024