How long have you been attending NZIFF?
I started attending consistently when I was about 19 or 20, when it was held at the Rialto (RIP).
Favourite film you’ve ever seen at the Festival?
I have very fond memories of having my little mind blown by this surreal black and white American musical / space western, The American Astronaut, from the 2002 festival. I saw it with a bunch of uni friends and re-watch it every year or so. A++++ would trade again.
My favourite moment though was watching Sam Hamilton’s fun experimental film Apple Pie in the 2016 festival. It was just me and an elderly guy in the cinema at a 10am screening and at the very end he turned to me and said “that’s the queerest film I think I’ve ever seen”.
Film(s) you’re most excited to see from this year’s NZIFF?
I’m really looking forward to both the Hungarian animated film Ruben Brandt, Collector, and the Swedish sci-fi film Aniara. The first appeals to my love for bonkers animated weirdness, and I really like high concept sci fi + Swedish film + international takes on genre. I’m also excited about Jennifer Kent’s film The Nightingale even though it looks like we’re all going to have to strap ourselves in for a rough ride. There’s something really special about the Tasmanian Gothic, and I want to see what she’s done post The Babadook.
What do you think makes NZIFF in Christchurch special?
It’s a bit like Christmas in that it breaks up what’s usually a rubbish winter. Christchurch is also really spread out and decentralised, so for a couple of weeks it creates a creative hub that fosters a warm sense of community. I found this to be really important after the earthquakes, despite the fact that for a couple of years lots of people were pretty reluctant to go into dark enclosed spaces. Sharing films was a way of being together and feeling things together even if we weren’t able to communicate our trauma or thoughts well with one another.
What are your top five favourite films of all time?
I’m not sure about all time, but my favourite things over the last year or so have been Paddington 2, Parasite, mother!, The World is Yours, and A Town Called Panic.
What’s your earliest movie-going memory?
I have hazy recollections of Care Bears in a cloud ship – I think it might have been an in-cinema screening of the 1985 Care Bears Movie? That might be a fabricated memory (although I did love the Care Bears).
Do you have a process for selecting your NZIFF picks, and if so, what is it?
Yes, it’s very tactical! I usually block out everything I know I can’t make it to, which means I can’t feel sad about missing some things. Then I’ll jam in as much as I can by playing movie Tetris. The NZIFF scheduling tool is really helpful! I prioritise things that won’t come back for general release, films from areas of the world I don’t know well or see much of (so American films tend to fall pretty far down the list), anything kind of weird or freaky, some short films and animation, some crowd pleasers, some spectacle, and some Nordic films, as I really like their dry sense of humour. I also try to make sure there are some fun or silly ones, as one year I inadvertently picked a whole slew of really grim / upsetting films and came away feeling freaked out and miserable. No one wants to leave the festival feeling sad.