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Last updated on 12 November 2020

It’s with great sadness that I heard of the passing of New Zealand International Film Festival Director Bill Gosden.

I knew Bill professionally but not personally, and always watched with great admiration the way he orchestrated NZIFF with aplomb.

It was because of Bill and NZIFF that I developed a love of independent cinema and arthouse film.

Every year I made a point of catching 15 to 30 films at the fest in Auckland. Bill and his team showed us that there was more to film than the hero’s journey and Save the Cat.

I remember in 2017 going to see the 5.5 hour Japanese film Happy Hour by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, and being captivated for every minute. Or watching in 2016 the astounding Columbian film Embrace of the Serpent by Ciro Guerra, an artistic feast for the eyes and mind. Or sitting in 2014 with Ruben Östlund’s Swedish masterpiece Force Majure and British director Steven Knight’s tour de force Locke. Then there was in 2012 German director Christian Petzoid’s simply beautiful Barbara and Denis Villeneuve’s powerful, moving Incendies in 2011. I could go on—Lebanon, Page One: Inside The New York Times, I Love You Phillip Morris, Four Lions, Frank, The Hunt, etc., etc.

Equally, I suffered through a few of my own personal dislikes, such as Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s Ash is the Purest White, Portuguese critical hit Tabu by Miguel Gomes, or American director Frederick Wiseman’s interminable Ex Libris.

All these films just an example of the masterful programming of NZIFF that Bill led.

Then of course is the incredible support he gave to New Zealand filmmakers, both feature length and short, from Gaylene Preston to Florian Harbicht, Yamin Tun to Hamish Bennett, Daniel Borgman to Aidee Walker, Tim van Dammen, Becs Arahanga and Jack Niccol to name a few.

DEGNZ has had for a number of years an official connection with Bill and NZIFF through our hosting of visiting directors and introducing their films, to more recently running director masterclasses with them, like those with Debra Granik and Thom Zimny.

Bill Gosden made every wintery August a month to look forward to, and he enriched the cinematic life of New Zealand with his choices. I for one will be eternally grateful.

Bill Gosden’s memorial service will be held at the Public Trust Hall, 131–135 Lambton Quay, Wellington, on Monday 16 November, at 2:00pm.

Also an official memorial page is also being created for Bill, and you are invited to email your messages to tribute@rememberingbillgosden.nz.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director