The Christchurch leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival has just recently finished. While I may be a little late with this blog there are ways to keep engaging with festival entrants. I am certainly going to be keeping my eyes peeled to see if some of the films I missed get a general release, are purchased for the library’s DVD collection or come to Alice in Videoland. The programme  is currently still available online, and the festival is still going on in other parts of the country.

A number of festival films were adapted from books –  this listing is a very handy resource if you want to find details of the books they were based on. For further inspiration, the library website has a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed.

Cover of What Maisie KnewSlightly overwhelmed by choice I ended up going to two films right at the end of the festival. I had been rather put off Henry James by the 1997 version of The Wings of the Dove, but the combination of Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgård tempted me along to What Maisie Knew.

This was a well crafted film, directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, about a young girl, Maisie, caught in the middle of her parents’ bitter split. The film is quite literally told from Maisie’s point of view (a wonderful performance from Onata Aprile) with the adults in her life appearing and disappearing, and by turn loving her, abandoning her and using her as a bargaining tool.

Cover of Much Ado about NothingI was also part of a large audience who appeared to thoroughly enjoy Joss Whedon’s elegant take on Much Ado About Nothing. Featuring Whedon regulars Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick and filmed in atmospheric black and white, it was shot in 12 days at Whedon’s own Santa Monica house.

This was a confident, hilarious and slightly sozzled modern dress version of Shakespeare’s popular romantic, but slightly sinister, comedy (Shakespeare must have invented the rom-com, right?). Also appearing were Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk as incompetent crime fighters Dogberry and Verges.

What did you see at the film festival? What do you hope to catch up with at a later date? What films (or TV shows) have inspired you to read the book?