August 14, 2011


Well. That went quickly and yet, not so quick. The past two weeks have been intense. Over the course of the Festival this year, I've plonked my ass in front of 41 films and have, so far, written about 21 of them (with the rest to follow). It has been an interesting ride and experiment in terms of just how far I can push myself. Scheduling films, ushering, Film Society info desk duty and writing around my day-job has been... exhausting. I found myself yesterday utterly, utterly exhausted in a way I have never been before. It was not the kind of tiredness that swamps your brain or slows you down, but more a bone-deep feeling of just wanting to crawl up into a rug and sleep for a week.

This year's Film Festival has probably been one of the strongest, in terms of the number of truly great films on offer. And the success of the Fest can almost be measured in the number of films I wanted to see, but missed. There were 17 in total, all missed for a variety of reasons. There was the wicked head-cold/man-flu that struck me down for the middle weekend, meaning I missed films like Errol Morris' Tabloid and the talked about Le quattro volte. There were films that I just couldn't squeeze into my already packed schedule like Hot Coffee, The Trip, Stori Tumbuna, Homegrown: Drama,  Love Story, The Guard and more, so many more.

But the films I did see were, for the vast majority, absolutely aces. At this Festival there were intense South Korean films, documentaries galore, works of pure cinematic poetry, enigmatic and unresolved endings, new cultural experiences, laughs, tears, awe, stunning classics seen on the big screen for the first time, a couple of little gems, disturbing and challenging films, a couple of minor disappointments, innumerable cups of coffee, relatively few people on cellphones, one power cut, many discussions of films and 22 (and counting) posts on this blog. I've definitely got some favourites from the Festival and a few I'm looking forward to seeing again - either on DVD or on general release. But, as opposed to Winter's Bone and Animal Kingdom from last year, there was no film that really gut punched me like those two did. A few came close - The Tree of Life and Melancholia were truly beautiful while The Man From Nowhere, 13 Assassins and I Saw the Devil were all captivating in different ways and, like I say, it has been an absolutely stonking Festival overall.

These are the two weeks I live for each year. I love the big-time Hollywood films, the superheroes twatting each other about, the often ridiculous high-concepts... but for two weeks, it is a pleasure to take a break from that and gorge on a different cinematic diet. Who knows when, or if, these films will ever return to our screens here in NZ? I love the Film Festival and so, to the small but dedicated team behind these two weeks, I say a very humble thank-you. 

Right. And with that, I am off to my last film of the Festival: the Ryan Gosling starring Drive. I will be bringing you my write-ups just as quickly as I can, uh, write them. And thanks to you for reading. 

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