New Zealand International Film Festival 2016

Last night the Christchurch programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival was released and as usual, in amongst a programme that really does have something for everyone, there’s a healthy clutch of literary offerings.

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films over a two week period. The 2016 Christchurch festival runs from 28 July to 14 August.

Literary films at the Festival

Several of the films at the Festival are based on books, or are on the subject of writers. Portions of the following list have been kindly supplied by the Festival organisers.

Cover of The History PlaysChimes at Midnight
Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles’ 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece lives anew. Welles gives a mammoth performance as the Bard’s tragic fool Falstaff, along with John Gielgud as Henry IV and Keith Baxter as Hal. Chimes at Midnight is based on a compendium of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Daughter
The most lauded Australian drama of the last year, this bold, superbly acted debut from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone reimagines Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in a contemporary small town.

The Handmaiden
Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.

Cover of High RiseHigh-rise
In Ben Wheatley’s ambitious, wildly disorienting adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, tenants of a high-tech skyscraper slip into a literal class war. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss. (Read our blog post about the novel, High-rise: J. G. Ballard’s Vertical Zoo)

The Idealist
A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.

Indignation
Adapted from Philip Roth’s autobiographical novel of the same name, Indignation is an incisive, affecting drama of embattled individuality on a 50s American campus. With Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

Cover of Life, animatedLife, Animated
This incredibly moving and fascinating doco takes us into the interior life of autistic Owen Suskind, and explores how his love of Disney animated features gave him the tools as a child to communicate with the world. Based on the book by Ron Suskind.

Neruda
Not your conventional biopic, this enthralling dramatic exploration of the legacy of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda conjures up a fiction in which he is pursued into political exile by an incompetent detective played by Gael García Bernal.

Obit
Vanessa Gould’s fond and fascinating documentary introduces us to the unseen women and men responsible for crafting the obituaries of the New York Times.

A Quiet Passion
Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine star in Terence Davies’ lively, witty and ultimately intensely moving dramatisation of the sheltered life of 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

Cover of The rehearsalThe Rehearsal
In Alison Maclean’s vibrant screen adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, a first-year acting student (James Rolleston) channels the real-life experience of his girlfriend’s family into art and sets off a moral minefield.

Sunset Song
“Terence Davies’s Sunset Song is a movie with a catch or sob in its singing voice: a beautifully made and deeply felt adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel of rural Scotland.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
This new documentary provides insight and historical perspective on the life and work of philosopher Hannah Arendt, illuminating her relevance to some of the most troubling phenomena of our own times.

More information

Lists for the Listless

A popular read for cold, rainy days

It’s been a miserable, dark, rainy afternoon – I admit, it’s the first time in a long time but even so I’ve got used to good weather now …

As Autumn, (crisp and blazing riots of red and orange hued leaves) becomes clumps of wet, slippery mulch on pavements and in gutters, my thoughts turn to hugely enjoyable reads in the warm and dry ‘Inside’ that will blot out the slowly encroaching cold and wet ‘Outside’.

My reading recommendations normally come in the guise of ‘Have you read?’ conversations with friends; looking at the If you like… website page or the close scrutiny of library blog posts such as those recently written by the Library Angels attending the Auckland Writers Festival – I hastily place a hold on the work concerned and cross my fingers that the entire population of Christchurch are a little slower off the mark than me.

Roberta, Masha and Moata: Festival angels
2016 Auckland Library Angels. Flickr 2016-05-05-IMG_4074
a ‘gem’ of a read

Today, I engaged in a spot of ‘playing around’ within the Bibliocommons catalogue and found the following. If you type ‘Rainy’ in the search box and then choose the option ‘List’ from the Keyword drop-down menu you locate page upon page of lists created by people around the world who have the word ‘Rainy’ somewhere in the List headings they have created. Not just recommendations of books you understand, but DVDs, music, crafts for all age groups.

Of course the drawback is that you spend a long time wading through the information and writing down titles to put in your ‘For Later’ shelf but still it’s another way to locate a hidden  gem that needs to be read, listened to or watched.

Anyone else out there utilise this facility?  Anyone make their lists public for all to see and glean information from? Or place anything of interest in their ‘For Later’ Shelf from these Lists?

New Zealand International Film Festival 2015

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films over a two week period. The 2015 Christchurch festival runs from 7 August to 23 August.

Literary films at the Festival

Several of the films at the Festival are based on books, or are on the subject of writers. Portions of the following list have been kindly supplied by the Festival organisers. Continue reading

Film Festival Literary Connections

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.

 

NZ International Film Festival programme announced

Cover of the Film Festival brochureThe New Zealand International Film Festival programme has been released and we caught up with its Director, Bill Gosden, to discuss what Christchurch audiences should head out to see.

Bill says this year is the biggest so far for Christchurch Film Festival audiences with over 90 films screening at Hoyts cinemas. Nick Paris (Christchurch publicist for the Festival) described the programme as being filled with “contagious cinematic bling”.

The Festival has films for all ages, including children. The NZIFF received a harsh letter from some 7 year old festival-goers a few years ago who deemed the “Animation for Kids” programme “Animation for BABIES”. In light of that stinging criticism, the festival now provides two animated programmes for kids, one aimed at 3 – 6 year olds: Toons for Tots, and the other aimed at 7 – 10 year olds: Animation for Kids 2014Toons for Tots features adaptations of two popular children’s books: The legend of the golden snail by Australian master Graeme Base and the hilarious I want my hat back by Jon Klassen.

If you’ve been enjoying your movies for longer than 3 – 10 years though, Bill pointed out two movies that star modern cinema legends: Isabelle Huppert in Folies Bergère and Catherine Deneuve in In The Courtyard. If you like your stars more local or literary, here are some films that strike a literary or local chord include:

Book Cover of Selected Works of TS SpivetBill encourages Christchurch cinephiles to take on the Film Festival films. He and his team have spent months viewing over 800 films across the world in order to bring Film Festival audiences “the most interesting films of the year. One effect of being able to bring films digitally to the Festival is that there are quite a few films that viewers haven’t heard much about as they are so new.” Festival attendees have the opportunity to be the first in the world to check them out.

Tickets go on sale Friday 18 July and the Festival runs from 7 – 24 August. On the Film Festival website you can timetable in your viewing pleasures and make sure you don’t double-book yourself. Programmes are also available from our Libraries.

Star Wars is back

You probably already know that Disney has announced a release date for the next Star Wars movie. Apparently there at least three more to come. I have to admit that “Oh goodie” was not my first reaction. I was however interested to note that John Williams will be composing the music for the next release.

He composed the music for all the previous films and won a fistful of awards including an Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe for his score to the first one.

His original soundtrack took  film music out of the doldrums at the time, reviving it after a less than glittering period during the 60s and 70s. Williams deliberately set out to reflect late 19th century orchestral music, apparently because Lucas wanted a soundtrack that grounded the

otherwise strange and fantastic setting in a well-known, audience accessible music.

Indeed it was often credited with creating a resurgence in interest in that music.

Curious to have another listen, I decided to try out some of it in Naxos Music Online which has quite a range. I’m not sure I would like to sit down and listen to the soundtracks in their entirety, but many of the themes seem to me to have stood the test of time and who could forget the original title theme? Have a listen and see what you think.

If you’re keen on sci fi film music Naxos and Music Online cover Stargate SG1, Star Trek (films) and Star Wars as well as the odd film like Dune.

The JFK assassination

It is 50 years since the day President Kennedy was assassinated on 22 November 1963 (23 November in New Zealand.)

You’d think we would all be clear about what happened by now. Instead the waters have been muddied by an official investigation with too many loose ends and endless versions of the truth postulated or imagined in films and books. A recent article to mark the 50th anniversary lists a bewildering array of films and plays which have dealt with the theme, giving it all sorts of twists.

Even our own library has had to publish an explanation of why the Christchurch Star newspaper was able to publish the story so fast, because theorists took it as proof of a CIA plot.

It’s no wonder we’re so confused. I’m not sure if I should consider this as a reflection of the awe in which Kennedy was held, or a sad distraction from his legacy. Either way it has fed the creative imagination of a generation film makers and authors.

Will we ever know the truth? Or will we have to settle with whichever investigation or conspiracy theory that suits us?

Reel life in Canterbury – travelling film show

Interior of St Michael'sImagine a cool historic building, a live accompaniment and a programme of historic films about Canterbury and you are set for the old timey travelling film show from New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Called Reel life in Canterbury the screening includes 17 short films which are a great way to see some of our beautiful historic buildings and  landscape. The earliest film from 1910 shows the Hinge family in their home at 10 Berry Street, St Albans. In A Daughter of Christchurch a new school teacher arrives in town and is wooed by Freddy Fishface, a shady journalist and Bill Cowcocky, a handsome farmer. Made by Rudall Haywood in 1928 it starred Christchurch locals and features a fistfight on the banks of the Avon.

There are films from North Canterbury and the Mt Cook area and also films featuring buildings that did not survive the earthquakes. The silent films have a live musical accompaniment. The Christchurch venue is St Michael’s and All Angels Church, 84 Oxford Terrace, door sales only at a bargain basement $5.00 and two screenings on Saturday 14 September at 4pm and 7.30pm.

And just to remind you of the golden age of movie going when Christchurch was dotted with great picture palaces – our Movie Theatres collection of heritage photographs.

Beauties

The lucky library crew who get to select the big books on the important things in life like clothes and  jewellery have been excelling themselves lately. Some true beauties have come through and I have been having a good guzzle of their gorgeousness. I hope there will always be books like this; books that you are excited to see, to hold  in your hands and feel their satisfying heft, to turn their pages looking at them really, really closely.

So you didn’t get to see the show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute – Schiaparelli and Prada: Imposssible Conversations is almost as good as being there.  Judith Thurman’s introductory essay is everything we expect after reading her in The New Yorker; really good writing about clothes, the people who make them and the people who wear them.  Then there are the photographs and the cunning little postcard-sized inserts of the imaginary conversations between these two Italian designers.

The New Jewelers has 800 illustrations of  “desirable, collectable, contemporary”  jewelery – enough to set off tragic dreams of winning Lotto or giving up coffee for the next twenty years to afford one of these pieces.

Coming into fashion: A Century of Photography at Conde Nast is a book of photographs of some of the most beautiful clothes from the last hundred years worn by some of the most beautiful women in some of the most preposterous poses. My standout is a model in a maillot standing on a beach holding a kangaroo by the paw.

Vogue:The editor’s eye gives an insight into the women who came up with these mad ideas. The women who said “let’s take Richard Avedon   and a bunch of models to Japan for five weeks for one photo shoot”.

The budgets may have shrunk since 1947 but the creativity hasn’t – just look at the Grace Coddington chapter.

Hollywood Costume is a celebration of 100 years of clothes in film and how they help create the identity of the characters who wear them. All the familiar images are here; Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Vivien Leigh swathed in “Miz Ellen’s poteers” in Gone With the Wind and Elizabeth Taylor spectacularly historically incorrect in Cleopatra. Sometimes the words in books like this seem to be merely space fillers between the photographs but the essays here are really interesting – Meryl Streep describes herself as “a real pain in the ass for every costume designer” because she took her degree in costume design and wrote her thesis on it.

What’s your favourite big beautiful book?

Best. Film. Ever.

  1. Excalibur.
  2. My Brilliant Career.
  3. Persuasion.
  4. Romeo and Juliet (the Zeffirelli version).
  5. The Tin Drum.

CoverCoverCover

Hit me with your top five all-time favourite movies!