Wellington Scoop

Ninety years of cinema, including Spike Lee, in Film Society’s 75th programme

film society 75th

News from Wellington Film Society
The Wellington Film Society heads into its 75th year of screening with Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing, set to ignite the giant Embassy Theatre screen during American Black History month.

After COVID-19 disrupted the cinema experience in 2020, the Film Society is back with three films from the acclaimed American filmmaker. Clockers (1995) and Bamboozled (2000) will round out the trio of Spike Lee films joints.

“WFS is thrilled to celebrate Spike Lee’s work in 2021. He has been a trailblazer in the modern cinematic landscape and his impact is indisputable. Lee’s films are bold and delivered with vibrancy, power and humour. It will be a rare treat to view his visually stunning work on the big screen with an audience.” says WFS President Caroline Garratt.

Films will screen on Monday nights at 6:15pm through till 6 December when the programme will conclude with another American classic: William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1953), starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

This year, WFS is also celebrating the work of Mereta Mita, Aotearoa’s ‘grandmother of Indigenous cinema’. Her debut feature Mauri (1988), the first written and directed by a Māori woman, will be screened during Matariki. This comes a few weeks after Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, a documentary about her life directed by her son Hepi Mita.

“Through her films, Mita, the incredible wahine toa of New Zealand film, delivered representation and empowerment to Māori and other Indigenous voices around the world,” said Garratt. “At this moment in global history it is more important than ever to recognise the need for contemporary screens to reflect our communities and to generate greater engagement and equality.”

Indigenous voices are elevated throughout WFS’s programme including through Sweet Country, the second film by Warwick Thornton, a Kaytetye man and director of the acclaimed Australian film Samson and Delilah (2009).

WFS will continue to screen Chinese and German-language films in partnership with the Confucius Institute and Goethe-Institut. This year’s Confucius film, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, is a painterly tribute to Huang Gongwang’s celebrated 14th Century scroll painting. The three Goethe films are: System Crasher, Nora Fingscheidt’s provocative 2019 Berlin standout; Faust, F. W. Murnau’s silent expressionist opus; and In the Aisles, returning after last-year’s screening was postponed due to lockdown.

In total, WFS will screen 10 films that they were unable to do so in 2020. This includes the two films from its Tilda Swinton series that were missed: Orlando and I Am Love (with Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir providing additional Tilda). WFS is also fortunate to be able to reschedule Abbas Kiarostami’s Where Is the Friend’s House?, And Life Goes On… and Through the Olive Trees.

Other highlights of the programme include contemporary festival films from Algeria, Russia, Lebanon, Sweden and South America, including the gripping drug trade epic, Birds of Passage (2018), directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. Decades worth of French cinema, courtesy of the Embassy of France and Institut Français, will be screening, including Costa-Gavras’ political thriller, Z (1969). Two highlights from the classics section are Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) by feminist pioneer Dorothy Arzner and A Matter of Life and Death — Powell and Pressburger’s landmark of British film which, like WFS, will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021.

The 2021 WFS programme comprises 35 films spanning the years 1926 to 2019.

About the Wellington Film Society

WFS screenings are open to members of the public to join for an annual fee – full waged memberships cost $120 which equates to less than $3.50 per film across the year. The weekly screenings will be held on Monday evenings at the Embassy Theatre from February through to December. Members have access to regular newsletters, social events, guest speakers, and concession pricing at most cinemas around town as well as at the New Zealand International Film Festival in August.

WFS, affiliated to the NZ Federation of Film Societies, is the longest-standing film society in New Zealand. Formed in 1945, WFS is a registered charity and is run entirely by volunteer members.

Screenings will be held at the Embassy Theatre (Grand screen) on Kent Terrace (end of
Courtenay Place) every Monday from 6.15 pm. For a full listing of the 2021 season: http://www.filmsocietywellington.net.nz/.