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Queue for film festival bookings at the Roxy

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There was a queue at the Roxy in Miramar this morning as filmgoers took the first opportunity to book seats for the limited number of Wellington cinema screenings in this year’s NZ International Film Festival.

When New Zealand went into lockdown, the film festival decided that it would not be able to continue with its usual programme of screenings in cinemas. It therefore switched to a festival on line – as many of the world’s biggest festivals are also doing this year.

Then when the lockdown ended earlier than expected, the festival endeavoured to schedule some of its films for theatrical screenings. However only about a quarter of the programme will be in cinemas, with the remainder being viewable on line.

In Wellington, screenings will be at the Roxy (160 seats) and the City Gallery. There’s been no explanation of why the festival’s usual venue, the city council-owned Embassy (with 700 seats), is not being used this year. The festival’s screenings in other cities are in the usual larger venues, including Auckland’s ASB Waterfront Theatre (600 seats), the Theatre Royal in Christchurch (1200 seats) and the Regent (1600 seats) in Dunedin.

This will be the first year in its 48 year history that the film festival (originally known as the Wellington Film Festival) has not presented its annual programme in a central city cinema. The Embassy has been its main screening venue for more than 35 years. As Wellington’s biggest annual midwinter event, the festival usually screens 150 new films and sells more than 80,000 tickets.

This year’s programme includes 70 new features and seven short film collections.

News from NZIFF
Tickets for Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival Online Premiere films went on sale today. The 27 Online Premieres featuring in NZIFF At Home – Online have set screening dates and times for audiences at home to watch together to emulate the in-cinema premiere experience.

And a selection of the Online Premieres include filmmaker introductions and live post-film Q&As streamed on Facebook and Youtube. Participating international filmmakers include Instinct Director Halina Reijn and actor Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones), True History of the Kelly Gang Director Justin Kurzel, Vivos Director Ai Weiwei, The County Director Grimur Hákonarson, Johnny Ma (Director of To Live to Sing), and Faraz Shariat (Director of No Hard Feelings), and more to be confirmed.

Film Festival director Marten Rabarts said: “We’re excited to have tickets for these 27 films finally on sale today. We know many of our film festival whānau have been waiting to be able to buy tickets for the online screenings and today marks a major milestone in the delivery of this year’s unique festival. We’re looking forward to audiences joining us online to watch these premieres.”

Opening Night film True History of the Kelly Gang, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s The Truth, Australian horror film Relic, bittersweet French farming drama In the Name of the Land, short film collections New Zealand’s Best 2020 and Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts, Oscar-nominated Polish drama Corpus Christi, homegrown premieres for Rūrangi, The Girl on the Bridge, Before Everest and LOIMATA, The Sweetest Tears and Icelandic Closing Night film The County are amongst the online premieres on sale.

Films with Online Premieres will also have Online Rental windows starting the following day from 10.00am, the exception being lesbian teen rom-com Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), featuring New Zealand’s Rachel House, which will have a One Night Only Online Premiere on Saturday 1 August. Online Rentals will be available for purchase once the film’s rental window begins and once purchased, viewers have 48 hours to watch the film.

Of the films premiering online, 20 will also screen in cinemas in eight cities. The full in-cinema schedule can be found on the nziff.co.nz website under the In Cinema tab.

NZIFF At Home – Online programme