Monday, 13 April 2015

Autumn Events Q&A with Bill Gosden

Autumn Events Q&A with Bill Gosden

The third annual Autumn Events kicks off this weekend in Auckland at the mighty Civic Theatre before heading around the country.
I caught up with Bill Gosden of the NZIFF to get some insider knowledge on this year's event.
Don't forget to book tickets and get info, head to the Autumn Events website.

What’s the ethos behind the curation of this? How do you approach the films that are selected?
When it comes to selecting the classics, there’s three main considerations: (1) the film has got to be great or at least VERY interesting. (2) It’s got to be crying out for the Giant Screen. Some films really do work just as well on a small one. (3) The restoration has to rate – and that’s more the case than ever with stunning new copies of Pinocchio, The Conformist and Hard Day’s Night. The two Kubrick films come to us in the best studio transfers, but do not represent any major refurbishments.

It’s the third Autumn Events since 2013, what are you learning about audiences as you go on?
Last year our screenings felt really festive, like mid-year NZIFF screenings transplanted into the autumn. That’s just what we’d been hoping for. Putting a World Premiere into the mix will definitely add to the fun this year.

Kubrick’s the big winner this year, with 2 films – what was it about 2001: A Space Odyssey and Spartacus that made them choices for Autumn Events?
It’s been too long since either of them had a giant screen outing, especially Spartacus. It’s easily the most literate of the Hollywood Roman Empire epics, and the most surprisingly down with the underdogs. It has great Red Peril credentials! And the battle scenes show Kubrick’s mastery of grand scale film-making in its startling earliest appearance.

Many won’t have experienced some of 2001’s trippiest sequences on the big screen; an HD presentation of it surely will blow some minds?
Let’s hope. The tag lines the first time round weren’t shy about implying that the film was a drug experience. The Ultimate Trip, no less.

There’s Pinocchio as well; Disney’s undergone a revival with the Cinderella live action remake, are you hoping that families will embrace this in its 75th year – what makes it so timeless?
‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ had its first airing in this movie – and that’s not an anthem that’s ever waned in popularity. But in many ways Pinocchio is very much of its time – and gloriously so. There was never another Disney film that was so elaborately gorgeously crafted.  When I was a student working at the Century Theatre in Dunedin I had to watch this film four times a day for a fortnight (to ensure the kids never set fire to the theatre). Every screening was a pleasure, revealing new details I’d never spotted before.

The Beatles are currently in residence in Auckland’s Civic theatre with Let It Be – and then a Hard Day’s Night comes in for the Autumn Events; is this some kind of celestial alignment or just fortuitous programming? What’s the appeal of Hard Day’s Night?
They changed the world – and you can still feel it happening as you watch this film. They’ve set off a terrifying storm of adulation. They are still astounded and excited by it, but they are already masters of evasion. Their insolence is fresh and charming. And the songs aren’t bad either.

The best thing about the Autumn Events is a chance to appreciate something unscreened in its glory; in my case, it’s Bertolucci’s The Conformist – why should I ensure I head to this one?
It is an orgy of art deco style and rhapsodic camerawork. The tension between such visual extravagance and its uptight, murderous protagonist is electrifying.

You’re also premiering some Australasian firsts; first up, That Sugar Film – this year’s Supersize Me. I understand the film-makers were really keen for this to be screened as soon as possible and will be in attendance?
Correct. Sandra saw the film at the Amsterdam documentary festival late last year, and we immediately invited it for July. But the film was already on a roll in Australia and Damon was keen to get in front of New Zealand audiences sooner rather than later. He’ll be here to take questions at the Auckland and Wellington screenings.

And our obsessions with rugby are explored in The Ground We Won, a look at provincial rugby – surely that’s destined for greatness given the country’s love of the sport?
It’s a beautifully made film, absolutely fit for classic status. The amazing thing is that the guys in it seem to have forgotten there was a filmmaker present, and a citified female filmmaker at that. It’s frank and funny and I think an extremely truthful picture of their deeply homo-social and mutually fortifying environment. I suspect the audience who is going to get the most out of the film is made up of rugby outsiders. I was amused to see
the rugby widow quoted in Chris and Miriam’s publicity: “Thank you. You have shown me what my husband could never explain.”

Finally, I always ask, Sydney Film Festival’s made its first announcements for their annual film festival; ours is lurking excitedly around the corner. With plenty of tantalising fare out at the festival circuit, what’s our own NZIFF looking like? Any early confirmations or teases you can give us?

You know I don’t do that in April!

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