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August 1976

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago

Fifth Wellington Film Festival

 

What overall comment can one make about the Fifth Wellington Film Festival? From the point of view of the organisers, administrator Rosemary Hope and myself can only breathe long sighs of relief as the final day passes with no major catastrophes, and with every feature film shown on time, in spite of a number of hair-raising experiences as films were ferried between us and Auckland (who shared some of our titles). Everything arrived in the country on time - except for the feature from Iran, which remained immovably in Moscow. When one compares this to the disasters of non-arrival which occur with some overseas film festivals, we can be forgiven for some self-satisfaction.

 

Attendences, too, bore out the film society's long-held view that local filmgoers will attend worthwhile films. In a year when the cinema industry is said to be in the doldrums, and in a fortnight when even Nashville could attract only a handful of filmgoers to a major commercial cinema, we had the pleasure of seeing more than 18,000 filmgoers at the Film Festival, a 16% increase over last year. Thirteen screenings were filled to capacity - not only the predictably intense interest in WR - Mysteries of the Organism, but also more satisfyingly for quietly memorable films such as I F Stone's Weekly and Kaspar Hauser (the latter having its Australiasian premiere).

 

Few of the films would have been seen in New Zealand had we not been able to import them. Thus it is satisfying to discover that we have been able to interest commercial distributors in giving some of them a full season after the festival. I F Stone's Weekly opened at the Penthouse on July 16. If our confidence is not misplaced, this low-key American documentary will prove it can attract large Wellington audiences, and thus the Penthouse owners will hopefully carry on to release other festival films, which will be rewarding not only to Wellingtonians who failed to see certain titles at the festival, but rewarding also to the producers and directors of the films, to whom we will be able to give definite financial encouragement in the form of the commercial earnings. By the time this article is published, I have hopes that Stavinsky and Fear Eats the Soul, at least, will have reached a wider locaal audience.

 

We learnt much about the attitudes of the film censors during the festival. Words which were approved in R16 and R18 films, were still unacceptable in A films.

 

(Whistling Smith a short programmed with Bar Salon (R18), under the present law had the censor demand a number of cuts for language, which, when made, would have allowed it to carry an A certificate. The Festival organisers suggested that as the film would be screened on an R18 programme, the short should be left uncut and rated accordingly, but were firmly told that it was, except for its language, an A film and could only be rated as such.)

 

The prolonged violence in Touch of Zen brought a general exhibition certificate, yet the cartoon Fantastic Planet inexplicably was given an age restriction. I could not understand why Chabrol's Nada deserved a 'festival only' restriction, though the same certificate given to The Harder They Come was a little easier to understand.

 

A few final tributes: to the tireless staff of the Paramount; to David Lindsay for his magnificent 40-page programme (850 copies sold); to Bryan Lovell who made our festival club such a success; to all the other committee members; and finally to Rosemary Hope who carried out the thankless hour by hour running of the festival. (For the first time we were able to afford full-time administrative control of the Film Festival. Federation secretary Rosemary Hope acted as an outstandingly efficient festival administrator for more than two months. Without such a full-time officer there would have been no way that such a substantial event could have been run.)

 

- Lindsay Shelton, Sequence, August 1976.

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