July 1, 2011


Last night I attended the Programme Launch for the Wellington leg of the 2011 NZ International Film Festival and there are more than a few films I'm excited about seeing this year. There are over 400 sessions over two weeks and across 6 cinemas. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Wellington Film Festival and you can read an account of the first few years here.

As with last year, however, I am disappointed that a) there is no Live Cinema film closing out the Festival and b) Auckland DO have Live Cinema closing out the Festival and it's Nosferatu! Live Cinema has been a highlight of each Festival year for me - it is a silent classic with live accompaniment and previous films have included Buster Keaton's Steamboat Jr. and the horror classic (with live theremin!) The Cat and the Canary.

So, what have we got to look forward to? A veritable boat-load of films have been shipped from the Cannes Film Festival this year and there seems to be a stronger emphasis (or at least a few more) action/thriller films from overseas. But let's break it down shall we?

There are the Big Films like:
  • Terence Malick's Palme d'Or winning The Tree of Life
  • The now banned from Cannes Lars von Trier's Melancholia
  • Morgan Spurlock's newest doco-experiment POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  • Werner Herzog's 3D cave painting exploration, Cave of Forgotten Dreams 

But it's not all about the new hotness. There is also a selection of bona fide cinematic classics:

  • Martin Scorsese's incendiary Taxi Driver in a brand new 35mm print
  • a restored digital print of Fellini's La Dolce Vita
  • A "lost" Elia Kazan classic, Wild River
  • Metropolis (the second time I'll be seeing this at a Film Fest and not the last time this year either - the NZ Symphony Orchestra will be playing the score with the film later this year)

Having the chance to see classic films like these on a cinema screen is one of the highlights of the Film Festival for me, every year.

But one of my other very favourite things about the NZIFF is getting to see work from new directors, new voices. This year I've already picked out:
  • Submarine
  • Troll Hunter
  • Snowtown
  • Hobo With a Shotgun
  • another low budget, intelligent sci-fi? Sign me up for Another Earth
  • Tyrannosaur - Paddy Considine's directorial debut!

Then there are those films I've been reading about and anticipating for a year... or sometimes more!
  • I Saw the Devil
  • 13 Assassins
  • Space Battleship Yamato
  • The Innkeepers (with director Ti West in attendance)
  • The Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan food and impersonations
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene

And the NZIFF is never one to skimp on the documentaries. This year (among others) I have on my list:
  • Page One: Inside the New York Times
  • Errol Morris' Tabloid
  • Hot Coffee - a film about the rise of the litigious culture in America
  • Senna - a car-racing doco that has been making big impressions overseas
  • Sons of Perdition
  • Project Nim - from the director of Man on a Wire.

And this barely scratches the surface of what I'm looking to experience at Film Fest this year. There are always those few films that I have absolutely no idea or preconceptions about before going in, and it's this chance to discover a new cinematic gem that really invigorates me and makes me appreciate all over again the hard work the NZIFF team do each year. As for me? Not only will I be trying to get to as many films as possible (the current list is sitting around 60), I'll also be a volunteer usher, manning the Film Society information desk, working the day job and writing about it all. 

Yeah. I can't wait.  

1 comment:

  1. I saw Troll Hunter at the Florida Film Festival and wrote about it on the blog. I'll be interested in your take on it. I'm jealous about Martha Marcy May Marlene!