Who would be likely, or, more often, extremely likely to recommend NZIFF to friends and family? 97% of respondents in Auckland, that’s who, along with 99% of those in Wellington; and 100% in Christchurch. Do it, please! In Dunedin, Hamilton and Timaru the percentage was 95% or more. The lowest: 82% in Tauranga. Definitely an ‘A’ for Excellent. Yay. That was the really good news. This year there was no really bad news to cloud it, but nobody’s saying we’ve attained perfection just yet.
Website & ticketing
There was abundant love for our website, thank you again, CactusLab. Ditto the improved ticketing facilities the site (and Vista ticketing) provided for NZIFF in Wellington. (The rocky first day on this system drew some understandable complaints, but after that, only joy.) Nothing would suit us better than comparable service, minus the teething problems, in other centres too, and we received numerous pleas for just that. We won’t list the other great website add-ons suggested by various respondents, just in case they turn out to be impossibly complicated, but you can be sure we’re working on them.
How you select films
Festivalgoers still rate the free printed programme highly. For the first time it fell behind the website and related social media (our EDMs in particular) as the primary source of NZIFF information, but the brochure once again led the way when it came to actually deciding which films to see. What’s more, this year 21% agreed that the brochure image was a decisive factor in making film choices. This is a statistic we’d like threaded into the DNA of all film producers. Word-of-mouth rated the next highest factor in selecting your films, well ahead of trailers and IMDB.
Flagship venues, please take a bow: The Civic, The Embassy, The Regent and The Isaac Theatre Royal were repeatedly cited as defining attractions. “More screenings at the Civic,” said one enthusiast. “It’s your best venue, so make the most of it.” Short of adding sunrise sessions or midnight matinees, we don’t see where we could fit more screenings than we already schedule at the primo venues.
That thing called taste
The diversity of the programme came in for much commendation, but, as always, provided some of the most irreconcilably opposed responses. Several opposed our own high regard for the films under discussion. I, for one, will never surrender to one avowed music lover’s vehement dismissal of the moving Around the World in 50 Concerts. Vive la différence? We hope so. “Turbo Kid was awesome.” “Turbo Kid was over-hyped… BORING.” “More documentaries please.” “There were maybe too many docos.” “A disproportionately large number of French movies.” “More French films, please.” “Colour of Pomegranates was one of the most interesting films this year.” “I found it not only strange, to say the least, but also a waste of time and money.”
We were disconcerted by several respondents who implied that sessions they could not access – particularly during working hours – had no discernible reason to exist. With the exception of the dedicated lunchtime programme in Wellington, we ensure every film receives at least one weekend or evening session in each centre, and DCP has often enabled us to run more, especially if the film is programmed into a small venue. The increased facility to schedule encore screenings of popular films, Pomegranates included, attracted even more favourable comments than in 2014: another plus for digital cinema technology. We have to draw the line short of extending by a further week, though several respondents hoped we might.
Inconsiderate fellow patrons still inflict pain. You know the types we’re talking about. Noisy eaters, talkers, smartphone addicts and late-comers, your ears are scarlet for a reason. Theatre staff reported fewer unhappy scenes this year, so in many ways this was the most disheartening feedback we received. Complaints about seats (or the lack of them in venue foyers), along with grumbles about café or candy-bar offerings in certain venues, have all been forwarded to those responsible for these crucial items. So have the numerous words of praise for volunteers and for theatre staff at a gratifying number of NZIFF venues around the country.
Our favourite compliment of the year: “It’s obviously such a huge effort by so many people. I especially liked all the people who made it happen :)” That surely is a big like, embracing a mass of people, starting with several hundred filmmakers and their cohorts, most of whom we never met. It just as surely embraces tens of thousands of filmgoers throughout the land. Car-parking aside, the effort to see a movie hardly compares with the effort to make or to exhibit 200, but the attention of a critical audience is the crucial factor that keeps NZIFF on screen. Don’t hesitate to keep the suggestions coming to while you can still feed into our planning for NZIFF 2016.
— Bill Gosden, NZIFF Director