NZIFF - Bill Gosden's 2015 exit interview
With the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival wrapped in both Auckland and Wellington, you may think the frivolities are done and dusted. But the festival's now heading around the country with an indefatigable number of films and still lots to see.
I caught up with festival director Bill Gosden to get his thoughts on this year's bumper festival - and record attendances.
Hi Bill, how’s it going? Surely you must be flagging now?
Some exercise, other than dashing between venues, is required to pep me up at this point.
|Festival director Bill Gosden at the Christchurch NZIFF launch, 2015|
We’ve ended in Auckland and Wellington, how’s it been for you this year?
Mostly great – from the moment, twenty minutes into Auckland’s opening night screening, that I knew for certain that The Lobster’s perversity was even more entertaining with an audience of 2200 than with an audience of five.
Is it my imagination or have you added a lot more extra showings of films this year – you’ve practically commanded another week in Auckland?
It’s an upside to DCP. Responding to public demand was never easier.
It’s been an exceptional year in terms of diversity on the programme, has that equated to more bums on seats?
Yes. We are looking at best-ever attendances in Auckland and Wellington, and only a handful of under-patronised films.
What have been the box office highlights this year?
The Lobster, The Assassin, Wolfpack, Amy, Sherpa, 45 Years.
What have been the films that have surprised you in terms of numbers?
Peggy Guggenheim, The Colour of Pomegranates, Banksy Does NY
Conversely, which films do you wish more Aucklanders and Wellingtonians had got to?
Above all Lonesome with an exhilarating new score from James Milne and friends. It was the great one-of-a-kind event of this year’s NZIFF. I believe the spectacular Embrace of the Serpent will continue to find its audience, but I wish more people had had their first encounter with it at The Embassy or Civic. I’ll be ending my own NZIFF attendance this year by seeing it in the fabulous new setting of the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch.
With the regions now launching, which films are you confident will translate well around the country?
Sherpa, 45 Years, Crossing Rachmaninoff, Ex Machina…
Which films have you snuck into and enjoyed under the auspices of audience research? (I know I sat next to you in Amy, apologies if I fidgeted too much….)
Next time I’ll sit away from your note-taking arm. In Auckland I also saw Tale of Tales, the first film ever stolen by a flea, and the eerily sleepy Cemetery of Splendour. The Club turned out to be a whole lot less funny than we’d been led to believe – but the audience itself felt like a club undergoing a shady initiation, and it was a memorable screening.
What’s the one film you didn’t get to share with an audience that you wished you had?
Our Little Sister
There’s been a wide range of Q&As this year and the festival’s also had 2 live music events – (3 if you count Crossing Rachmaninoff’s Wintergarden Q*A) last year you said you wanted more of these, are you intending to do more next year?
I hope so.
It also feels like we’ve had films earlier than anywhere else this year – Sherpa, The End of The Tour, so thanks for making us feel special…
That’s been the case for some years now. Our timing so soon after Cannes is perfect for that. The only disadvantage is the difficulty of generating media interest in films that are so new only the cinephiles have heard of them. Convincing anyone that the remarkable Mustang was newsworthy proved impossible.
Have you noticed any things you’d change for next year? It’s a minor issue and talking mainly from personal experience, The Civic’s suffered a little getting people into seats for the fuller events and run a little later, giving the cinephiles rushing to screenings palpitations. Admittedly, not a bad problem to have – have you had any other feedback so far from the public?
It’s an old, old problem, when 2000 people arrive within 20 minutes of start time. The Civic staff tell us that live performance audiences at the venue tend to arrive in a more timely manner. Maybe the live show audience expects the place to be full and slow to fill.
What are your hopes for the 2016 festival? We are after all approaching a big number for the festival…are there any plans to mark that?
That big number is a way off…
Just finally, how do you intend to spend your down time before the inevitable trips to foreign film festivals?
The down time happens after the ‘inevitable’ trip to Toronto and New York. But I’ve already picked up my first book in four months, and it’s riveting. I can’t recommend Fiona Farrell’s Villa at the Edge of the Empire too highly.
For more on the New Zealand International Film Festival's regional tour, pls head here