This week has been an interesting learning curve for me, on how films are selected for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) here at MTG Hawke’s Bay. Having yesterday gone through the trailers and descriptions of films we were given to choose from, I thought that was the selection done. I’d even started writing this column about the films that were coming but it turns out it’s not as simple as that.

I’d never truly understood why we couldn’t simply get the films we wanted and, while my understanding of the whole system is still a bit shaky, I now have a better picture of the process and complexities. A number of films come in with a limited license to screen i.e. can only be shown a certain number of times, and these end up in the larger cities where they have longer festivals, more screenings and more film-goers. Some films may be too close to general release or there may be arrangements with venues to show all of a certain genre, for example the Len Lye Centre tends to get a lot of the art films. The organisers then create a list of 40 or so films that they think will do well in the regions and we’re sent this list to make a selection. That’s where yesterday came in and I got very excited and wanted to tell you about the films coming here.

So, what have I learnt since then? Well there are other venues across the country running the film festival at the same time and there will be competing demands. The films can’t just be sent electronically to all the venues at the same time. They are sent as a physical copy and often require a code to unlock them (provided close to the time of screening). So the organisers have to juggle what everyone wanted against the availability of the films and transportation arrangements. We wait with baited breath to see which films we’ll get!

And of course it’s all a matter of taste – we can try to select what we think looks interesting and will appeal to a wide group but ultimately we can’t be sure. There are films we’d like because they are relevant – museum films, arts and culture subjects, regionally or nationally relevant topics – but we cannot predict what you, the viewing public, will choose to come and see. Rest assured we do campaign for the films we would really like to see here but we just have to wait and see.

In the meantime I can say there will be a range of films covering adventure, comedy, drama/suspense, children’s films and (hopefully) some arts and culture. We think the film festival works fabulously well in the beautiful Century Theatre and want to keep running it here. There are still too many people who are surprised when I tell them we run the NZIFF every year so can I please ask you all to help spread the word about the festival which starts this year on 7 September and runs through until the 24.

NZIFF at Century Theatre, MTG, 7 Sept – 24 Sept 2017

NZIFF at Century Theatre, MTG, 7 Sept – 24 Sept 2017

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay

Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 22 July 2017

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