Friday, 27 June 2014

2014 New Zealand International Film Festival interview with Bill Gosden

2014 New Zealand International Film Festival interview with Bill Gosden

Tickets for the New Zealand International Film Festival are on sale after the launch of the programme in Auckland on Monday and Wellington last night.
As the masses prepare their cinematic scramble, I caught up with Festival Director Bill Gosden to chew the fat, look at parts of the programme and also find out from him which is the one film he believes definitely deserves your time.

Bill Gosden at Auckland's Civic Theatre, 2014
It seems to be the strongest line up yet, with a programme that suggests diversity as well as crowd-pleasing fare, how are you feeling about the line up this year?
I’m still pinching myself to believe it’s all there. We’ve a total of 139 films and a mere 37 of them were nailed down in the fortnight between Cannes and the printer’s deadline. But yes, I think the balance of great idiosyncratic movies, more genre-based fare, not to mention terrific documentaries, is a very pleasing one this year.

20 titles from Cannes as well - from award winners like Winter Sleep, Map to The Stars, Leviathan - how have you managed to secure these this year and how do you think they will be received?
Of course there’s always advance speculation about what will make it to Cannes, but there’s little point in our focussing on it before the official selection is announced. Then it’s a matter of keeping a close eye on who is handling what – which can change quite quickly - so we know exactly who to talk to once programmer Sandra Reid has seen the films there and prioritised our hit list.

The Cannes films I’ve been able to see myself by now are very exciting.  I don’t imagine anyone being bored by them. And I can’t wait to catch up with the ones I’ve still not seen, especially Leviathan, Force Majeure, Maidan and Winter Sleep.

It also feels like an incredibly strong NZ set of entrants this year is it a vintage year for NZ and what does opening with The Dark Horse says?
That it’s a beautiful film – and that NZIFF is perfectly placed to help it along the way to the success that surely awaits it.

We also have Housebound as well for the main programme - a suggestion perhaps that there's a wide audience for this with the buzz eminating from SXSW?
Hell, yes. If audiences don’t want to have this much fun, then it’s time I headed for a life of simplicity and quiet contemplation.

Which other NZ titles stand out to you?
I think each of them is surprisingly specific in its appeal. If you’re looking for what else on the New Zealand programme might please the widest audience, the Ngā Whanaunga Maori Pasifika Shorts programme this year is terrific.

I'm very interested in the multi-platform approach for Everything We Loved - how did that come about and do you see this potentially being a way forward for the festival and other local titles?
Definitely – and for international titles too. We are well aware that not everyone can get to the handful of screenings we are presenting on any one film. But we have taken on so much change this year – a new site, new ticketers in Auckland and Wellington, a condensed tour programme – that VOD was not something we had the resources to explore more fully in 2014. The Four Knights team were very keen to take this new path with their film so Everything We Loved provided the perfect starting point using the new NZ Film Commission VOD platform.

You've also managed to secure a lot of titles that have had buzz around and are very anticipated within the community - from Locke to Snowpiercer and Under The Skin - is this a push to get more into the auditorium or to satiate the film community's appetites?
The buzz is completely justified. We had our hands up for all three films very early. It has worked out perfectly for us that they all took their time getting here – and then landed in our laps.

It's also exciting to see David Michod return after the terrific Animal Kingdom - what can you tell us about The Rover? And a return for Florian Habicht as well with Pulp... how does it feel to bring old faves back to the fest?
The Rover feels like something David Michod might almost have done before Animal Kingdom. It’s brutal and stylish and will certainly keep you wide awake, but it’s much less impassioned and complex than the earlier film. The Pulp doco is pure Florian and pure Pulp too, a marriage made in pop heaven.
The Rover

There seem to be some films of a similar ilk / themes - Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Richard Aoyade's The Double as well as Fargo touches for Kumiko and In Order of Disappearance - purely coincidence or deliberate?
Signs of the times to be interpreted as you like. You should also note that the little dog turned up on our poster before we’d even heard about Cannes Palm D’og winner The White God which culminates in a spectacular canine uprising. Pure coincidence?  Who can be sure?

What's the one film you're delighted is on the programme and why? Conversely, what's the one title you'll be ensuring you've got a seat for as part of the audience / big screen experience?
Just one?  Are you insane?  Here’s a few that absolutely demand the biggest screens in the nation: Snowpiercer, Home from Home, Leviathan, 20,000 Days on Earth, Under the Skin, Salt of the Earth, Wild Tales.

Which titles does your gut tell you will appeal to the masses?
If I had such a helpful gut, I’d probably not be working at a film festival. I’ll be perplexed if there aren’t masses of fashionistas charmed by Dior and I.
We Come As Friends

What's the one title that you want people to try above all else - and why?
We Come as Friends is a potently cinematic new film from the director of Darwin’s Nightmare. He built his own plane, created aircrew-style uniforms for himself and co-pilot/sound man and flew into South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, on the ‘official business’ of simply filming whatever they found when they landed. It’s astounding what access this ploy opened up for them – and what risks they took to capture 21st-century colonialism in sordid action.

What can you tell us about the guests coming to the festival this year?
Rolf de Heer should be no stranger. His films with David Gulpilil have been my own favourites amongst the many he’s produced and directed. Charlie’s Country, the latest of these, is wonderful. Sophie Hyde also hails from South Australia and her 52 Tuesdays, a very contemporary take on coming-of-age, won her the World Cinema Direction award at Sundance this year.
Charlie's Country

Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine are a San Francisco duo whose documentaries – notably Ballets Russes – have often featured at NZIFF before. And Kitty Green is a young Australian who risked life and limb and the hospitality of the KGB to record the activities of the Ukrainian feminist cadre FEMEN.

The festival has a good solid travel itinerary this year as well, you must be excited about heading into some regions that have never seen you or you've not been around for a while?
Timaru is our one new location this year. It’s great to have Gore back for a second year. They’ll be opening with Housebound this year, and extending a Mainland welcome to its Invercargill-born director.

Is the programme complete - or are you chasing some last minute acquisitions that you're hoping to secure.....?
That settles it. You definitely are insane.

Full details of all the titles can be found at the New Zealand International Film Festival website -

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