2016 Autumn Events Q&A with Bill Gosden
The Autumn Events kicks off in April; a chance to revel in some of New Zealand's best cinemas and some classics as well as some incredible premieres.
Film Festival director Bill Gosden fronted up ahead of the event.
Welcome back - it feels like we've only just bid farewell to the NZIFF for 2015 - are you excited to be back on the scene and the screen?
You bet. Programming the Embassy, Civic and Regent: what’s not to like?
With bad weather coming, there's no better time to be back in the cinema and some of the main centres' iconic venues - what's been the best film you've ever seen at these venues and why?
Ever is too big a word, but here are three that leap to mind: Elvis, That’s The Way It Is at the Civic; Only Lovers Left Alive at the Embassy; Housebound at The Regent.
It's a great line up again - and you've come with perhaps one of the most anticipated NZ Films of the year in the form of Tickled to open the festival - how does it feel to open with one of your own countrymen's efforts?
Super happy. Dylan Reeve and David Farrier can be my countrymen any day. There’s something indelibly Kiwi about their refusal to be dazzled by the legal threats flying their way as they press on undaunted to expose “bullies with too much money”.
The premieres proved to be fertile ground in the past - what can you tell us about Where to Invade Next and one of my most anticipated films, The Witch?
The first is Michael Moore’s smartest film ever imho, a feel-good parade of governmental social welfare programmes, represented by some very funny and articulate beneficiaries and proponents. It’s a much saner promotion of democratic principles than beating up corporate flunkies. The Witch is a truly remarkable horror film. It takes its own good time to work its antique black magic, but leaves us drenched in Puritan dread of the devil and his minions.
And it's great to see Amy Berg back after the amazing reception of West of Memphis with Janis: Little Girl Blue...
I understand that Amy has been working on the Joplin documentary for a long time. (It must have provided welcome respite from paedophiles and redneck prosecutors.) She has accumulated a wealth of material, not just the performance footage which remains as thrilling as ever, but the memories of many of those closest to Joplin, and a trove of her personal correspondence.
Animation is always amazing on the big screen; there's something magical about it being at the Civic - tell us why you chose the wonderful Iron Giant to return?
Because, as you said, it’s wonderful! Sneaking off to see this new, slightly extended cut at Toronto last year was a pleasure I denied myself in deference to the new films on offer, so I am making up for it now. Besides, how many American ‘family’ movies have hipster-artist heroes and dare to say that guns are bad for you?
Is it hard to select the classics? We've got the sumptuous The King and I, Ran, The Philadelphia Story to enjoy on the big screen - do they still give you tingles?
Every one of them. Watching the restoration of Ran on a suitably giant screen I wondered why so few filmmakers working on such an epic scale had learnt from Kurosawa’s minimalist use of music and effects. The chaos unleashed on screen is all the more disturbing for the pin-pointing of particular details in the soundscape and Toru Takemitsu’s equally Spartan score.
The way that The King and I induces shivers could hardly be more opposite: music to the max. Maybe I’m just looking for a key to unlock the highly misleading intimation of intoxicating grown-up romance provided to my infant self by the cover of the soundtrack LP. It features the iconic moment when the barefoot Yul Brynner and satin-gowned Deborah Kerr begin to dance. Richard Rogers’ score draws a breath then breaks into a gallop, the camera cranes to take in the joyous swirl of movement: I still haven’t figured out if it’s even possible not to swoon.
And Fargo too - it's the film that's made 2 TV Series and is really ultimate Coens - is it still kind of funny looking?
It should be looking better than ever in the 4K digital restoration. My own favourite Coen Bros movie by far – because Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson lends it such generosity. Only Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski gets close.
Putuparri and the Rainmakers seems like it could be an intriguing journey into a nation's psyche?
And a privileged one. We see the elders of Putuparri’s tribe discover their ancestral spring in the vastness of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert, then enact a ritual rainmaking. Putuparri shot this footage 20 years ago, but it’s like seeing something that could have been shot tens of thousands of years earlier. The footage itself became vital evidence in a land rights claim, and the film traces the fortunes of that claim and its impact on three generations of Putuparri’s people.
Stop Making Sense is Talking Heads and a rather classy choice...
Just like an Arts Festival gig: you’ll want to dance but there are seats in the way. Byrne was always such a visual performer and this collaboration between Talking Heads and a little known director by the name of Jonathan Demme upholds its reputation as the perfect concert movie.
The Bolshoi Ballet looks intriguing too - beauty from quite a dark place with the attack on the director?
Now that the Bolshoi Ballet has entered the league of world famous cultural institutions beaming HD performances onto the arthouse screens of the word, this may be the perfect backgrounder. It is as much for Russia watchers as ballet watchers.
And just finally, every year, this question - what's ahead for the NZIFF for 2016? Any chance you're willing to tease some themes of what lies ahead?
We may be close to signing up the year’s most fearless performance by a dog.
Get more info and ticket details at the NZIFF site