The New Zealand International Film Festival today confirmed that its fiftieth annual event in Wellington can go ahead next month, under Level 2 rules. The 50th Wellington Film Festival is due to start at the Embassy on November 4 with the premiere of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which won best director at the Venice Film Festival. However NZIFF has had to cancel this year’s Auckland Film Festival, because Level 3 restrictions make it impossible.
The film festivals are normally held in July, but they were moved this year because of covid, and because international film festivals were also delayed.
Wellington and Auckland are the two largest events in the NZIFF’s annual season of new films. As well as Wellington, the festival will be screening in 11 other cities and towns. But not in Auckland.
News from NZIFF
Today we share the heartbreaking news that following the Government’s announcement on Monday that Auckland will remain in a form of Alert Level 3 for coming weeks, the Auckland leg of Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival 2021 must be cancelled.
New Zealand Film Festival Trust Chair Catherine Fitzgerald said the board and management have worked tirelessly to assess all possible options. “It is with very heavy hearts that we make this announcement today.”
Ms Fitzgerald said the festival would require indoor capacities to be uncapped for NZIFF 2021 to be able to go ahead in Auckland venues and cinemas.
“With Auckland in a form of Level 3 for some weeks to come, and uncertainty around when capacity limits will be lifted, it is no longer possible for us to go ahead with the Auckland edition of this year’s festival.
“The team, led by Director – Kaiwhakatere Marten Rabarts and General Manager Sally Woodfield, has worked under extraordinary circumstances to do everything possible to present this year’s festival in all 13 towns and cities, and our programme confirmed for 2021, featuring an outstanding line-up of new award-winning films from around the globe, is one that we are extremely proud of.”
Ms Fitzgerald said the timing of the cancellation of the Auckland leg of the festival was to mitigate significant costs incurred in promoting and presenting the festival in the city, “We have held out as long as possible but had to make this decision today to be fiscally responsible.”
Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that NZFFT is working towards presenting the festival in the rest of the country with the current Level 2 restrictions and working with venues to ensure audience safety is paramount.
NZIFF 2021 now opening in in Wellington on Thursday 4 November, Christchurch on October 29, and Dunedin on 5 November, followed by nine regional centres.
“We are working with venues and cinemas on the logistics of presenting under the Level 2 restrictions with the removal of the cap on capacities, but with various continuing Level 2 requirements including physical distancing.
“We recognise this decision is a disappointment to our Auckland audiences and we now look to our dedicated audiences in the rest of the country to rally behind the film festival and show their support by coming to the screenings we will present in 12 towns and cities nationwide.”
The full programme for the film festival in Wellington, with 170 premieres, will be announced next week. The festival will screen at the Embassy and also at the Roxy, the Penthouse, the Lighthouse, and Soundings.
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