NZIFF Interview: Anders Falstie-Jensen

16 Jul

film fest

With the New Zealand International Film Festival just days away, I sat down with festival veteran and publicist Anders Falstie-Jensen for a chat about what audiences can expect from this year’s festival.

Haley Beatson: There have been a few notable changes to the festival this year. On a practical level, after last year’s partial transition to DCP, both the Academy Cinemas and Rialto Cinemas have equipped themselves with the technology in time for the festival. What does that mean for audiences?

Anders Falstie-Jensen: Well to be honest I don’t know too much about the technicalities but in the last couple of years there has been a huge shift in film to DCP. This year of 160 films there’s actually only 6 that are actually on film, the rest are digital. So for those cinemas to host festival films they need to equip themselves for digital, and that goes across the board, that’s just part of the evolution of film.

HB: Festival director Bill Gosden also mentioned that there is a greater number of lesser known films and films by lesser known directors this year. Do you think New Zealand audiences are ready to embrace those smaller films in the numbers the festival requires to keep going?

AF-J: I guess we’ll find out at the end of the festival! I hope so, and I think they will actually, because if they didn’t then it wouldn’t really be a film festival. That’s something that festivals cater to because people do come out to see non-mainstream films.

HB: Of those smaller films, which ones are you most excited about?

AF-J: That’s a tough one! I was really impressed with Starlet. I’m really looking forward to meeting the film maker, that’s one of the perks of my job because I get to hang out with them quite a bit and ask them all sorts of questions. It’s just really impressive what he could achieve on what appears to be a small budget.

HB: In addition to those films, the festival has again secured a number of Cannes selections this year. How important is it for the festival to secure Cannes films, and what do you think this year’s selections add to the programme?

AF-J: Programme-wise we are placed quite well in that we are one of the first festivals after Cannes, so a lot of the winners from Cannes will have their first screening after Cannes at the NZIFF and obviously there’s a novelty value in that. It adds a value to the festival in that it’s clear we have our finger on the pulse, because the turn around between Cannes finishing and our programme going to print is very short. Once those winners have been chosen the clock is ticking and to secure the number of titles that we’ve got is a testament to how experienced and well connected Bill is, and to the reputation of the festival. For instance, the Jim Jarmusch film (Only Lovers Left Alive) that he (Jarmusch) personally approved for screening at the festival shows the standing that the festival has.

HB: Possibly most locally significant is the inclusion of Utu Redux in the programme this year. Do you think the film has retained it’s historical significance, and what can audiences expect from this latest incarnation of the film?

AF-J: First of all, I’m not a Kiwi but it can’t be denied that it’s a New Zealand classic. Personally, I think it’s really important to revist your heritage filmically to see how you’ve grown. Because he (Geoff Murphy) has revisited it so many years later, I think it’s potentially a much tighter film, and with the restoration it will look pretty damn flash! It will be an amazing night, my colleagues from Wellington have seen it and they felt it was really fresh. I think that’s a testament to a classic, that this many years later it can hold it’s own.

HB: Obviously this year Behind the Candelabra and Only Lovers Left Alive are the two big buzz items on the programme. What do you think it is about those films, aside from the star power, that appeals to audiences?

AF-J: I think the star power is a massive part of it, you can’t get bigger than Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. But there is something about the glitz and glamour of those big films that attracts audiences in droves, and again they come with such hype from Cannes and are such big spectacle films. I see a lot, but I’m pretty excited about Behind the Candelabra, I think it will be an amazing night.

HB: Finally, which films are you most excited about in this year’s programme?

AF-J: That’s really difficult! Some of the films that I’ve seen are quite amazing. The Act of Killing is extraordinary. Also The Human Scale, it might not sound sexy but it’s about urban planning, and it’s just incredible. Everything in the film correlates with what’s going on in Auckland, and probably in all major New Zealand cities, it’s really fascinating and a film I think people really need to see. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer is a really bad ass film. I’m really intrigued by the Paradise trilogy, I saw Dog Days a couple of years ago and it’s just disturbed me deeply, so I can’t wait to see what he’s (Ulrich Seidl) done with this one!


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