Need we admit that all eyes at NZIFF HQ headed first to our approval ratings? Happily for all concerned 97% of participants indicated that they were likely or very likely to attend NZIFF 2017. 95% were either very satisfied or satisfied with their experience of NZIFF this year. We are guessing that the 24 souls who characterised themselves as very dissatisfied were the same 24 who won’t be joining us next year or recommending that anyone else make that mistake.
It’s great to be able to report to our local body funders (or potential funders) how highly NZIFF rated with respondents as a contributor to civic pride. And our key sponsors will surely be pleased to learn that their presence was appreciated by so many NZIFF patrons.
Few opportunities to file a comment were left untaken. Reading every line has been engrossing, informative, entertaining and occasionally bruising. This summary concentrates on some recurrent themes in the great welter of feedback – and a few of the more vividly expressed words of approval or advice. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the lively and overwhelmingly positive survey.
Our printed programme and website still rule when it comes to sourcing
I had to sprint to make the plane, but it was worth a little sweat to get to the world’s most insanely beautiful city at the end of August for the 73rd edition of the world’s longest running Film Festival. Little over a week after introducing the Closing Night screening of Elle in Dunedin I was taking my seat for the perfect Opening Night film in Venice.
A big screen musical that’s determinedly contemporary while seamlessly sampling many Hollywood classics, La La Land is a bittersweet valentine to showbiz dreams. Its opening blast, with a cast of thousands bounding about a traffic-jammed LA flyover, threatens overkill. Happily the initial overload ends as suddenly as it began, give or take the odd subsequent mega-orchestral intrusion.
The true pleasures are in smaller things, not least the sinuous long takes that give the choreography full frame. Emma Stone, as a wannabe actress and Ryan Gosling as an earnestly retro jazz pianist, seem perfectly in character when they sing and dance; he lightly and warily, she much less guarded. Though writer/director Damien Chazelle has eschewed the macho clamour of his earlier Whiplash, he once more puts the artistry of his male lead at the
As the 20,579 ticket-holder left our final, added screening of Phil Keoghan’s Le Ride at the Isaac Theatre Royal, the NZIFF team was too exhausted to toast the end of our 40th Christchurch season – and now we are waking up to the long debrief that leads to NZIFF 2017! The dates are already set for 4 August to 20 August, in case you were wondering.
Hit documentaries were a defining feature of NZIFF once again, with Opening Night sensation Poi E: the Story of Our Song and Le Ride playing to turn-away business. Could it be mere coincidence that both films were directed by sons of Christchurch? Phil and Louise Keoghan and their team travelled from L.A. for their barnstorming World Premiere at the Isaac Theatre Royal – and were rewarded with three full houses. (If you missed out, negotiations are currently underway with a potential distributor for the film.)
Other NZIFF hits in Christchurch included two more docos, Embrace and The Eagle Huntress (the perfect choice on a soaking wet Saturday afternoon) and the wordless, animated fable The Red Turtle. I, Daniel Blake and the popular Captain Fantastic will soon follow Poi E into release.
Other Kiwi docos were presented
The Madman Entertainment Jury Prize for the Best New Zealand Short Film at NZIFF 2016 was awarded to Wait, directed and written by Yamin Tun. The jury noted in their citation that they were particularly impressed with the film’s authorial vision and use of visual language to carry the emotional story. Writer and Director Yamin Tun receives a cash prize of $5,000.
The Jury citation follows:
“We wanted to reward a film and filmmaker who has a clear voice, that managed to stay with us, producing a story that succeeded in mastering the short film form. We were particularly impressed with this film’s authorial vision and use of visual language to carry the emotional story.”
Wait was also selected as the recipient for Wallace Friends of the Civic Award. The finalists for this award were assessed by Sir James Wallace and Associate Producer/Director Grae Burton. Five of the six finalists were considered for the award. The sixth finalist, The King was produced in association with the Wallace Arts Trust and therefore was not eligible for this award.
The Wallace Arts Trust citation follows:
“In selecting Wait as the recipient for the award all films were given careful consideration in the
Carthew Neal and Emily Perkins will join Buffy McKinnon, representative for Madman Entertainment, to judge six short films selected by Lee Tamahori, at a public screening of New Zealand’s Best 2016 in Auckland on Saturday 23 July.
“The competition is now in its fifth year and we’re pleased to continue a diverse jury line-up for the New Zealand’s Best competition. Emily Perkins’ experience spans both the literary and film worlds with her great success as an author and her recent work in adapting Eleanor Catton’s novel for the big screen. Carthew Neal’s box office success with Hunt for the Wilderpeople makes him one of the most sought after producers in the industry. We look forward to their individual contributions to the judging task at hand in selecting New Zealand’s Best for 2016,” says NZIFF Director Bill Gosden.
The jury will select the winner of the $5,000 Madman Entertainment Jury Prize, while a $3,000 Wallace Friends of the Civic Award will be awarded by donors the Wallace Foundation and Wallace Media Ltd, to the film or contributor to a film they deem to merit special recognition. (The King, supported by Wallace Media, is not eligible for this prize.)
The winners will