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November 1955

Page history last edited by FilmSociety@gmail.com 5 years, 1 month ago


by Walter Scott

The working committee of the New Zealand Film Institute is the administrative body appointed annually in January at the meeting of delegates of the affiliated film societies It consists of a chairman (the present one is myself), a programme organiser (Ray Hayes), three members of the committee the (Mrs C. McKenzie, Denny Garrett and Ron Ritchie) and the Secretary (Mr D.K. Carey) - the paid officer of the Institute. It works under instructions from the annual meeting of delegates, though there are occasions when it has to act on its own initiative.

Film Supply: An important function of the working committee is to ensure an adequate supply of good films, both factual and feature for the 40 or more affiliated societies. It has not been an easy one to discharge, especially with feature films. In the first years of our existence we bought copies of the classics (Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Battleship Potemkin, etc) from the British Film Institute. This source of supply, however, soon began to dry up and a period of scratching for occasional feature films and of an excessive reliance on documentaries followed. This ended four or five years ago when, through the energy and enterprise of Mrs McKenzie during her visit to Britain, the NZ Institute was able to hire the three foreign films - Orphee, Les Visitors du Soir and Frenzy - that put new life into the societies. Since then we have been able to hire a fairly regular supply of foreign films reasonably suitable for our purpose (Jour de Fete, Edouard and Caroline) but it has become a difficult business and is becoming more difficult.

The first step in this long business is to search the catalogues and reviews for likely films, in itself a rather frustrating process because as we are not able ourselves to preview the films we might want to hire, we often find it hard to determine if they are really our kind of films. Next the locating of the distributors and sometimes long and often fruitless correspondence with them. Time after time we have found that a film advertised in a distributors' catalogue as immediately available is not available for us at all. Consequently one of our greatest worries is to get firm orders placed in time for the right number of films to arrive for the year's programmes The difficulty is increesing because the general interest in our kind of films is spreading and more and more of them unprocurable as owners and distributors hold on hoping for commercial contracts. We should welcome any suggestions that will help us to widen our net and improve the supply of films to societies.

Programme Organisation;  To organise programmes for over 40 societies, to despatch and keep in good order the hundreds of films to be used in the year's programmes, to ensure that the officers of the societies send on and return the films as required - to do these and several other things is an onerous task requiring much time, patience and skill. It is only through the good offices of the National Film Library that the task can be carried out at all. The programme organiser is on its staff and is able to use its services in distributing films to the member societies. In order to make some return for such generous treatment the Institute now from time to time donates films to the National Film Library.

Licensing and Censorship: The Institute, rightly, takes an interest in everything concerning the showing of films to the public. We have been moving to have the law governing the licensing of exhibitors changed to conform with the present situation. The present law simply states that every exhibitor must have a license. This means that non-commercial bodies today showing film: societies, schools, universities, churches etc. - are strictly speaking, breaking the law. A gentleman's agreement exists between the Institute, Internal Affairs and the film trade that societies may show films without licence (though they may not publicly advertise them) and that guests of members pay not less than 2/-. We are trying to have the law amended to free non-profit making organisations from the need to possess a licence for 16mm films.

Like your Society, we have been doining our best to hasten the gazetting of regulations to give effect to the 1953 Cinematographic Amendment Act.  In spite of being denied opportunity to see the draft we accepted a suggestion
we should indicate the form they should take and have sent in our proposals.



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