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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

 

 

 

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I’ve had occasion to review the New Zealand Film Commission Act, more so recently. To understand the New Zealand Film Commission’s (NZFC) role, it’s really the source document to read. And from it, we can then see how they interpret it.

Taking a look at it here, the first thing you will notice is that there are more clauses that are repealed than there are clauses that comprise it. In comparison to the Broadcasting Act that governs New Zealand On Air, the NZFC gets off awfully lightly.

From a New Zealand screen creative’s perspective, in my view, there are only three areas that are of real relevance in the NZFC Act.

The first is in Section 2, Interpretation; the meaning of the word ‘film’:

film includes a photographic film, or a recording on magnetic tape or on any other material, from which a series of images, with or without associated sounds, may be produced

You can see that this interpretation applies, but is not limited to the meaning of film as we in the screen industry use it. In fact, it’s more akin to the interpretation of ‘film’ in the NZ Copyright Act:

film means a recording on any medium from which a moving image may by any means be produced

In other words, ‘film’ in the NZFC Act actually can be interpreted to mean audio-visual content.

The second pertinent part is, I believe, (1A) in Section 17, Functions of Commission:

to encourage and also to participate and assist in the making, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of films

The key word for me here is ‘exhibition’, but more appropriately the active verb ‘to exhibit’:

exhibit – to show something publicly

exhibition – an event at which objects such as paintings are shown to the public, a situation in which someone shows a particular skill or quality to the public, or the act of showing these things

We all think exhibition means theatrical exhibition in film, but the Cambridge Dictionary definition, which I think can be applied here, just means showing to the public. Again, how this is applied is open to interpretation.

The final area of real interest is Section 18, Content Of Films. There are a significant number of stipulations for this, but they essentially tell us that the film should have significant New Zealand content, and be made by New Zealanders in New Zealand, unless it’s an official co-production, which confers New Zealand status on the film.

That’s pretty much it. So, what does it all mean?

Well it pretty much means that the NZFC role is very open to interpretation. And the New Zealand Film Commission’s guidelines for everything it does are their interpretation as they see it, guided by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, who they report directly to, although the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has oversight for the International NZ Screen Production Grant and makes a contribution to international promotion of the NZ screen industry; both elements of economic development.

More than anything else, MCH want films to be seen by audiences—NZ first and then the world. Theatrical release is generally considered the most important way of delivering an audience. Watching a film on the big screen with other people delivers the cinematic experience that is meant to separate ‘film’ from TV.

Theatrical exhibition also delivers box office, which is an indicator of the commercial success—or not—of a film. Commercial success can provide funds for future investment into films. In reality, we all know that nine out of ten NZ films fail to deliver real Return On Investment (ROI), so whatever revenues come in are really only reducing the size of the loss of investment. But nowhere in the Film Commission Act does it say that films have to return investment. The International NZ Screen Production Grant overseen by MBIE is the only film-related investment where ROI is expected.

Let’s take a closer look at the interpretation of ‘film’.

Obviously, NZFC has gone for the wriggle room in the Act to take on premium TV drama as well as film: both audiovisual content. It’s clearly strayed into the domain of NZ On Air here, but by targeting internationally-focused NZ drama content, it’s not stepping on NZ On Air’s toes, which are firmly anchored in domestic terra filma.

How about the guidelines for NZ Content?

The Act is very prescriptive and NZFC adheres to them for local films. Official co-productions, though, allow for interpretation. More than one NZ film with a completely American setting has passed as New Zealand content, Slow West being a good example as a NZ – UK co-production.

What about exhibition?

The film commish has theatrical exhibition as a key requirement. And exhibition, for me, is where my main interest lies, because it’s at the heart of NZFC investment. In fact, like the meaning of ‘film’, it could be broadly interpreted but it’s not at this point, although COVID has thrown a spanner in the works with cinemas shut down during lockdown, and now suffering under renewed COVID outbreak. NZFC has made some temporary changes to adjust for this.

We can take traditional theatrical exhibition as a given for now, although COVID is certainly trying to push it into oblivion. But I think we could be looking at other interpretations as well.

A true public broadcaster in TVNZ could become a channel for exhibition of all New Zealand films. TVNZ OnDemand is an Advertising Video On Demand (AVOD) service. They may not get to be the first window for screening, but they could certainly be made to carry all NZFC-funded New Zealand films that wanted to sit there, with TVNZ making an in-kind contribution for promotion—trailer/promo and airtime—in return for getting the film for free. A Boosted campaign could generate funds for the filmmakers to use on marketing and promotion. Viewing statistics could be shared with NZFC so that they could gauge the film’s and the platform’s ability to deliver.

Of course, there’s no ROI here for NZFC, but does that really matter? Not if they fund these films 100% so there was no need to seek private investment. A budget cap for films of this type could make it feasible. This approach is probably suited to films that struggle to find commercial partners in distributors and sales agents or those who don’t want to go down the traditional path to market. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have an audience. It could well be niche, and there’s nothing wrong with that. OnDemand would find out.

Another approach to exhibition could be Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD). The New Zealand International Film Festival could provide its Online platform for NZ film TVOD, as it did for delivering films in the 2020 festival. This would essentially offer the same revenue generating experience as cinemas. The added advantages would be that NZIFF could clip the ticket, while distributors could be removed from the picture, increasing revenue flow back to the NZFC, investors and filmmakers.

Filmmakers who chose this path as their primary distribution channel should be able to access the NZFC Distribution and Marketing Fund to drive audiences to their film, with NZIFF opening its considerable database to them and providing additional marketing and promotion as theatres now do. Again, viewing statistics and other data could be made available so that marketing plans are adjusted and audience size and revenues determined.

A spin on the TVOD approach would be NZIFF Online becomes the Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) channel, in a Day and Date with New Zealand theatrical exhibition. Online revenue would likely have to be shared with the theatres, and a distributor would also be involved to get the film into cinemas (self-distribution an option, though), adding to the layers of revenue extraction on the way back to NZFC, investors and the filmmakers.

This approach is a revenue generating one and would likely have a sales agent already attached so international sales could help deliver an ROI. With NZ films struggling at the NZ Box Office, this I feel is a viable alternative to getting NZ audiences to watch NZ films. After the film has done it’s run using this approach, it could be put on TVNZ OnDemand so that it had an ongoing opportunity to get additional viewing.

What about the promotion of NZ culture you might well ask?

Well that doesn’t seem to be in the NZFC Act. It’s obviously a concern of MCH, though, and Section 18, Content of Films could be seen to cover it. But does significant New Zealand content equal New Zealand culture?

You’d hope so.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

After unveiling a brand new look and identity, Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival has announced the highly-anticipated programme for its online and in cinema programme.

Congratulations to all of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ members who have been selected to play in the 2020 festival! We strongly encourage you to support these filmmakers and your film community by packing out limited cinema screenings or renting Kiwi films to enjoy at home. DEGNZ members are eligible for concession prices where offered.

The Girl on the Bridge

Directed by member and NZ Arts Laureate Leanne Pooley and edited by DEGNZ board member Margot Francis, The Girl on the Bridge follows the inspiring journey of 21-year-old Jazz Thornton during the pivotal two-year period she was emerging out of her own struggles with suicide to become a powerful advocate for mental health.

The feature documentary is set to have its world premiere at NZIFF on July 25, 4pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre, then available online and in select venues.

 

The Girl on the Bridge

New Zealand’s Best 2020

This year, director Tusi Tamasese was the guest curator for this competitive short film programme, selecting the top six finalists. Four of the six feature the talents of DEGNZ members.

Set in 1973, Oranges & Lemons tells a bullied girl’s story to find her voice in the strangest place, directed by Robyn Grace and edited by Kerri Roggio.

Anna Duckworth‘s Pain, Claire van Beek‘s Daniel and Cian Elyse White‘s debut short Daddy’s Girl (Kōtiro) were made through the NZ Film Commission’s Fresh Shorts initiative. Pain explores a young girl’s earth-shattering realisation that her father is not invincible and is edited by member Brendon Chan.

Daniel will have its NZ premiere at Whānau Mārama after its world premiere at MIFF and in competition selection for Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. The film was edited by John Gilbert and member Conan Mornard-Stott.

Cut by Annie Collins, Daddy’s Girl (Kōtiro) is a story about the powerful love between a father and his daughter in the face of a painful truth.

The programme will be in cinema at select venues or online from July 26 – August 1. If you watch NZ’s Best, make sure you vote for the Audience Choice Award.

 

Oranges and Lemons, Pain, Daniel, Daddy's Girl (Kōtiro)

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2020

For the first time, Ngā Whanaunga will be a competitive programme. Purea is written and directed by Kath Akuhata-Brown. Māori elder Hamo must bear the burden of carrying the spirits of her ancestors to their sacred mountain.

Ngā Whanaunga will premiere in cinema on July 26 and is available to watch online from July 27 – 2 August.

 

Purea

Kiwi Shorts

Kiwi Shorts is a curation of six New Zealand shorts that the Festival promises will put a smile on your face. Garage Stories: A Strange Collective Experience of Isolation, directed by Catherine Bisley, captures our nation’s recent experience under Level 4 lockdown.

Two nine-year-old girls find an enterprising way to satisfy their craving for ice cream in Ruby Abbott HarrisTriple Scoop. The programme also features Missy Fishy from director Erin Murphy – a whimsical tale about Miss Fish, a super mum, who struggles to tame her otherworldly urges.

Available to rent from August 1 – 7.

 

Garage Stories, Triple Scoop, Missy Fishy

Rūrangi

Premiering at the Festival and directed by DEGNZ member Max Currie, Rūrangi is New Zealand’s first transgender drama series. Made by gender-diverse talent, the drama is about a burnt-out trans activist returning to the rural dairy community from which he fled ten years ago. All five episodes have been programmed together as a special festival presentation, which will have its world premiere in cinema at ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland, on July 26, 7pm. You can also rent it online between July 26 – August 1.

 

 

Tickets for the Festival’s premiere screenings go on sale from July 10 and rental options can be purchased from the first available screening date, starting July 25. If you’re planning to watch at home, NZIFF suggests you start getting ready: set up your account, test, browse and start planning.

Tema Pua
Events & Marketing Manager

NZIFF 2019

Tonight, the New Zealand International Film Festival opens and with that, we congratulate members of the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ who have films in this year’s programme.

For My Father’s Kingdom

For My Father’s Kingdom premieres at home at the Civic Theatre after its Berlinale world premiere earlier this year. This debut feature documentary is co-directed by Vea Mafile’o (DEGNZ) and Jeremiah Tauamiti, and follows the story of Vea’s father Saia Mafile’o. The film is edited by Guild board member Margot Francis.

Vea and Jeremiah were part of our Documentary Editing Masterclass with their film in 2017 with US editor Doug Blush.

Join them for a Q+A after at screenings in Auckland and Wellington (August 10). Flicks also asked the directors eight questions about their film.

 

For My Father's Kingdom

New Zealand’s Best 2019

Congratulations to our members whose short films have been selected by Jane Campion for the only competitive programme at NZIFF, New Zealand’s Best 2019. Egg Cup Requiem is co-directed by DEGNZ’s Prisca Bouchet with Nick Mayow. Krystal is edited by Cushla Dillon and Hinekura is the new film from director Becs Arahanga about a young woman’s rite of passage upon her first menstruation in 1600s Aotearoa.

Tickets are officially selling fast for the Auckland screening on Saturday 27 July.

 

Egg Cup Requiem, Krystal, Hinekura

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2019

Ngā Whanaunga features Liliu, edited by former DEGNZ president Peter Roberts and Rū, cut by longtime board member Annie Collins.

Ways to See is written and directed by Jessica Sanderson, edited by Anastasia Doniants and made under Fresh 30. We do love a DEGNZ director-editor team up. Ways to See follows the attempts of a young Māori girl to reconnect with her absent father. Anastasia Doniants is also the editor on a second film here, Ani.

 

Liliu, Ways to See, Ru, Ani

Short Connections

Already sold out in Auckland and Wellington, Short Connections includes director Armagan Ballantyne’s collaboration with Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, Hush. Walk a Mile is edited by Janine Frei, and Memory Foam by editor Chia Hsu.

Across all the shorts programmes, it’s exciting to see so many Guild editors with work playing at this year’s festival.

 

Hush, Walk a Mile, Memory Foam

Herbs: Songs of Freedom

The curtains will close on the Auckland NZIFF programme with the World Premiere of Herbs: Songs of Freedom, an affectionate tribute to the iconic Kiwi band Herbs. The documentary is the latest editing collaboration between DEGNZ board member Francis Glenday and director/editor Tearepa Kahi, following POI E: The Story of our Song. POI E opened NZIFF 2016 and was nominated for Best Documentary Editor at the Rialto Channel NZ Film Awards.

Herbs: Songs of Freedom is bound to be another uplifting (and super catchy) local cinematic pleasure.

 

Herbs: Songs of Freedom

 

As a film community, support your fellow filmmakers and enjoy your time at NZIFF!

Members, don’t forget you can receive discounts on select screenings and the Masterclass with Thom Zimny. Check your inbox for the DEGNZ discount code in current newsletters.

Tema Pua
Events & Marketing Manager

Director Thom Zimny

Film director Thom Zimny (The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash) will lead a Masterclass for filmmakers in Auckland as part of NZIFF 2019.

This is the second time NZIFF has been able to provide a Masterclass designed for industry practitioners, thanks to an Artistic Development Partnership with Creative New Zealand. The Masterclass will take place on Thursday 1 August and will be run by the Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand (DEGNZ) on behalf of NZIFF.

Thom Zimny, known for his award-winning documentaries, will take filmmakers inside his process from the research phase through to the edit with special focus on the edit process. Works discussed will include The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley: The Searcher.

Masterclass attendees are encouraged to see The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash at NZIFF beforehand (Tuesday 30 July or Wednesday 31 July).

Limited tickets for the Masterclass are on sale from Ticketmaster.

Masterclass with Thom Zimny

Thursday 1 August 2.00pm to 5.30pm

Venue: WG701, WG Building, AUT City Campus, 55 Wellesley Street East, Auckland Central 1010

Ticket prices: $30 Full price / $20 Industry guild concession*

About Thom Zimny

Thom Zimny is an award-winning artist, director, producer and editor. Working with Bruce Springsteen for the past 18 years, Zimny has directed documentaries including Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes, The Ties That Bind and the newly released Springsteen On Broadway. He has previously directed and produced two feature length documentaries chronicling key chapters in Bruce Springsteen’s recording career, winning a Grammy for Wings For Wheels: The Making of Born to Run. In addition, Zimny edited three seasons of the highly acclaimed HBO series by David Simon, The Wire and helmed music videos for Bob Dylan, The Low Anthem and many others. The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash was made in collaboration with the Cash Estate, and premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash

Auckland screenings featuring a Q+A with Thom Zimny

Tuesday 30 July, 6.15pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre

Wednesday 31 July, 3.15pm at ASB Waterfront Theatre

Wellington screenings

Saturday 3 August at 6.15pm at Soundings Theatre, Te Papa

Monday 5 August at 6.30pm at the Roxy Cinema

Tuesday 6 August at 2.15pm at the Roxy Cinema

 

* Apply the Industry code from your guild/association when booking.