The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) has today announced its plans to present the 2020 programme in an online format.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place and likely to continue for some months, cinemas and entertainment venues around the country are closed or will remain under stringent gathering and social distancing limitations. NZIFF, run by the not-for-profit New Zealand Film Festival Trust, is unable to confidently present the 2020 programme as originally planned in cinemas across the country.
“This is an extraordinary situation and we need to adapt and find a creative solution for 2020,” says New Zealand Film Festival Trust Chair Catherine Fitzgerald. “The shared experience of cinema and the power of storytelling to bring communities together has always been our driving force. With the current, and evolving situation, we believe in the value and importance of cinema now more than ever.
“We cannot do without the Film Festival in July and so we are excited to be able to upgrade our online platform to ensure we can bring the best of new cinema to our audiences with new ways to share the experience and interact with the filmmakers and fellow audience members .”
The New Zealand International Film Festival At Home – Online will take place from 24 July to 2 August with a world-class curated programme of world and New Zealand premiere films for audiences to screen at home.
Film premieres and film festivals around the world are being severely impacted by the global pandemic with the cancellation and postponement of festivals including Cannes, New York’s TribeCa, and Sydney among many others, but new NZIFF Director Marten Rabarts has assurance from key film distributors in Australia, New Zealand and around the world that they are committed to making this online edition work well.
“After the initial realisation and heartbreak of not being able to provide our Film Festival whānau an in-cinema experience this year we’ve worked quickly, while leaning on our strong relationships with filmmakers, distributors and sales agents, to ensure we are able to confidently adapt the way in which we’ll present their films to our dedicated audience across the country.”
Rabarts said “NZIFF At Home – Online will be a true film festival experience featuring world and New Zealand premieres of films each night, and including virtual red-carpet, and filmmaker Q&As and we can potentially invite more international guests to present their films to our festival audiences than ever before using virtual means. Some films will be screened as special ‘one-off’ events, and many of the films presented will be exclusive to NZIFF and won’t have other New Zealand screenings.”
Key to the success of the online edition is the upgrade of the existing video on demand (VOD) portal and the necessary technology and integration to present the festival experience. “We are working with our OnDemand provider Shift72 on the technology to deliver a ‘bells and whistles’ digital screening room, coupled with live streaming events possibilities on our own website.”
Full information on the programme, viewing costs and viewing windows for the online platform will be announced on Monday 22 June, 2020.
Bringing the NZIFF 2020 programme to life is a team of programmers led by Festival Director Rabarts, newly promoted Head of Programming Michael McDonnell, Paris-based Programmer Sandra Reid, and specialist programmers Nic Marshall (For All Ages), Ant Timpson (Incredibly Strange), and Malcolm Turner (Animation Now), and new for 2020, a quartet of international guest curators.
The four international guest curators for 2020 are Argentinian film producer and Venice Film Festival programme consultant Violeta Bava, American curator and creative producer Alesia Weston whose track record includes Sundance International and the Directorship of Jerusalem Film Festival, former Director of Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and programming associate for Toronto International Film Festival Vicci Ho, and Director of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program Bird Runningwater.
“We are excited to introduce our guest curators for the 2020 Festival. These four curators are highly respected programmers globally and we are delighted to be able to draw on their knowledge of specialised territories and their diverse backgrounds to enrich this year’s programme,” Rabarts said.
Rabarts added that NZIFF is also looking to the near-future when COVID 19 gathering restrictions will once again allow a return to an in-cinema programme. “In January 2021 we hope to be celebrating that return with a special summer programme of films in our flagship venues in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin,” he affirms.
“We are fully committed to a return to cinemas in 2021 and we understand our audiences cherish the experience of sharing the festival films with others as much as we do, but until that’s possible you’ll find us no further away than the NZIFF website or app when we launch our At Home – Online programme in June.”
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