Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival celebrates 50 years in Wellington and remembers film industry champion Bill Gosden

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) will celebrate its 50-year anniversary in Wellington with a special screening event at The Embassy. In addition to commemorating its golden anniversary in the UNESCO city of film, NZIFF will pay tribute to its former Director, Bill Gosden, with a specially curated programme of retrospective films to screen in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which originally screened at the festival in 1974, will play at The Embassy on Sunday, 7 November at 5:30pm. The special event screening is a nod to the early ‘Fassbinder years’ of the festival which saw a raft of the prolific German directors’ films programmed in quick succession. The Embassy will display festival posters and brochures from throughout its five-decade run in its lobby to mark the occasion.

“NZIFF is extremely proud to celebrate 50 years of the festival in Wellington. From its beginnings, it has captivated the hearts and minds of Wellingtonians, and it is one of the highlights of the city’s cultural calendar”, says Festival Director Marten Rabarts. “It’s wonderful to reflect on how the festival has evolved over the decades and recognize the part that the festival has played in the local film industry. We’re very thankful to Wellingtonians who continue to embrace the festival with such enthusiasm each year.”

The Wellington Film Festival was inaugurated by Lindsay Shelton and the Wellington Film Society in 1972, screening seven films, to supplement the meagre options of Wellington filmgoers. Fifty years on, the festival is set to screen over 160 films across seven venues around the capital.

NZIFF will honour the late Bill Gosden’s 40-year legacy with the festival with The Bill Gosden Tribute, a collection of eight retrospective films that showcases a number of Bill’s favourite titles and demonstrates the depth and strength of his programming. This will commence with a screening of French director Claire Denis's most acclaimed film, Beau Travail, on Saturday, 30 October at Auckland’s Civic Theatre.

“We are honoured to remember Bill Gosden’s enormous contribution to NZIFF with this collection of films that we know he would whole-heartly approve of. Bill lived and breathed film and put everything into ensuring that the festival was an unmissable annual event. He was one of the most influential figures that the New Zealand film industry has seen, and we look forward to remembering his legacy with these films,” says Catherine Fitzgerald, Chair of the New Zealand Film Festival Trust.

Other titles in the collection are Beautiful Thing, Blissfully Yours, Brief Encounters, Flowers of Shanghai, The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On, Snakeskin and Written on the Wind. The festival programme will feature Bill’s original notes for many of these titles.

NZIFF will open in Auckland on Thursday 28 October, followed by Christchurch on the following day, with Dunedin and Wellington to follow a week later. The remaining nine centres span November and the first week of December.

For details of our confirmed venues and dates for the 2021 film festival click here

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