Wellington Scoop

Bill Gosden retiring from the film festival after 40 years

News from NZIFF
Bill Gosden, Director of the New Zealand International Film Festival, will retire in March, after forty years of service. NZIFF will begin a recruitment process to find a new Film Festival Director to programme the premiere event.

“This year we celebrated 50 years of NZIFF in Auckland and there, in Wellington and over the country as a whole, we have seen the best attendances ever. Now, sadly, we accept Bill’s decision to retire at the end of March for health reasons,” says Catherine Fitzgerald, chair of the New Zealand Film Festival Trust.

“Bill, during 40 years, has created not only the New Zealand International Film Festival as an unmissable annual event, but also audiences with an appetite to be surprised and rewarded by the best of the world’s cinema. We will all miss him and what he has brought to our cultural life during his tenure, and wish him the very best.”

The Trust oversees the not-for-profit event which has employed Bill since 1979, and which he has curated/directed since 1981, first as the Wellington Film Festival, succeeding founding director Lindsay Shelton. His first curated national festival took place in 1984. Under Bill’s leadership the film festivals around NZ have grown to programme over 160 films for NZIFF events in 14 towns and cities around NZ, screening from July to September each year.

“March 2019 will mark the 40th anniversary of my first job at the Wellington Film Festival. In a constantly shifting mediascape there have been few dull stretches since. Regular iterations of the impending demise of cinema always denied us the luxury of reclining into ‘business as usual’. Like filmmaking itself, staging a film festival is a collaborative project. Marshalling the myriad interests at play may require concentration, discernment and even a little imagination, but the will to keep NZIFF thriving is widely shared. I am reminded again and again of the diversity of supporters who have seen us through the red and the black, the thick and thin,” says Bill Gosden.

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to enjoy that support for so long. I look back with pride on the astounding array of national and international filmmaking that has found its first New Zealand audience at NZIFF. I leave with great confidence that whoever steps up next will be working with a remarkable and cohesive crew who love NZIFF and know it backwards.” says Gosden.

NZIFF, as it was named in 2009, has been run by a small team of permanent staff, a number of short-term contractors and a large contingent of volunteers led by Bill. The structure will remain the same, including key positions held by long-serving staff members General Manager Sharon Byrne, Communications Manager Rebecca McMillan, Programme Manager Michael McDonnell and Programmer Sandra Reid supported by contract programmers Malcolm Turner, Ant Timpson and Nic Marshall.

An international recruitment for the new Film Festival Director role is now underway. Recruitment details are available at https://www.nziff.co.nz/about/work-with-us/. Interested parties are encouraged to request the job description from recruitment@nziff.co.nz, and applications will be received until 1 February.


  1. Toby Manhire, 19. December 2018, 14:09

    It’s impossible to overstate what Bill Gosden achieved. [via twitter]

  2. Jason O'Connor, 19. December 2018, 14:19

    One hopes that this position will be advertised globally, as over the years the Festival has become far too middle of the road, and excluding challenging, innovative, long-form, experimental cinema from central Europe, Asia, not to mention India and Africa. Let’s hope the new Director will also favour the exciting advances in VR technology, and the remastering of classic cinema restorations from the silents and early 20th century. To also encourage younger audiences would not be a bad idea, as well as upgrading cinemas to something resembling State of the Art.

  3. Chris Hormann, 19. December 2018, 14:46

    We say that any organisation is bigger than one person and I know there is an outstanding team at the NZIFF office but the impact that Bill Gosden’s influence has had in my love of cinema is beyond compare. Kia kaha to Bill and his magnificent team. [via twitter]

  4. Chris Tse, 19. December 2018, 14:47

    Bill is a national hero. It’s not going to be the same without him. [via twitter]

  5. Mark Cubey, 19. December 2018, 16:15

    Just when December was looking up, I get the news that Bill Gosden is retiring, and I’m so feeling for him and the nzff crew. Impossible to think of the Festival without Bill. Kia kaha. [via twitter]

  6. Philip Matthews, 19. December 2018, 16:16

    Bill has shaped the film consciousness of so many in NZ. Such excellent curation, such superb taste, such sharp and intelligent programme notes. He is the festival. [via twitter]

  7. Elizabeth Kerr, 19. December 2018, 17:38

    So much love and respect for Bill Gosden! What a huge achievement the nziff is. Gutted that his health is taking him away from his role before he is ready. [via twitter]

  8. Brannavan, 21. December 2018, 8:50

    Slightly belated, but a massive, massive thanks to Bill Gosden. I can’t imagine the Film Fest without him and I’m very grateful for his work. [via twitter]