As well as the 40th anniversary of the Film Festival in Wellington, this year 2011 is also a significant anniversary in New Zealand's social history, as it marks 25 years since the passing of Homosexual Law Reform legislation, just a couple of weeks before the opening of the Festival. In it's own way, the Film Festival helped to celebrate that event. Back in 1986, the Festival was still being presented by the Wellington Film Society; the 1987 crisis of whether or not the Embassy Theatre building would be torn down and replaced with a carpet warehouse and the 1988 bounteous sponsorship of Fay Richwhite were still over the horizon. As usual, Ruth Halliday, the then President of the Film Society and I as then Secretary, together with other members of the Committee had co-hosted a function before the opening night of the 1986 Festival. Happily our guest of honour that particular year was Fran Wilde, then MP for Wellington Central and sponsor of the recently passed law reform legislation. After the function, Ruth and I escorted Fran into the Embassy theatre, which as usual for opening nights was full, and the entire audience came to it's feet in spontaneous applause. And the opening night film, chosen by Bill, was My Beautiful Laundrette, one of the early films in the career of Daniel Day Lewis. As a film, it will probably never feature in any list of the best 100 films of all time, but on Friday 11 July 1986 in Wellington, it was certainly the most appropriate and appreciated film on any cinema screen in town.
from David Jenkinson
Vice President, Wellington Film Society