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My forty film festival awards

by Lindsay Shelton
I’ve been going to the Wellington Film Festival for every one of its 42 years, even before it was rebranded as the NZ International Film Festival. So I’m claiming the right to offer my own personal festival awards.

Best image – the Embassy, of course, with its enormous Cinemascope screen
Best sound – the Embassy, again, with the Roxy a close second
Most disappointing sound – the Penthouse (when compared with the Embassy or the Roxy)
Only disappointment at the Embassy: why didn’t they fix the masking and the curtain in time for the film festival?
Only aggravating aspect of the Embassy’s otherwise perfect presentation: its habit of cranking the house lights up to full strength when there are continuing images during the closing credits.

Best film – Utu, having its digitally-restored world premiere 30 years later.
Runner-up – The Great Beauty, which delivered everything that a film festival audience could possibly want to see and hear.
Most relevant film – Utu.
Next most relevant film – He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan.
Weirdest film – Behind the Candelabra.
Most pleasurable film – North By Northwest.
Most happily-received and most widely-appreciated film – Gardening With Soul.
Best less-than-feature-length film – Making Utu.
Most cheerful less-than-feature-length film: Happy Everyday: Park Life in China.

Most beautiful film – A tie between Camille Claudel and Antarctica: A Year On Ice.
Most spectacular film – Antarctica: A Year On Ice.
Film with the best music – Twenty Feet From Stardom.
Coolest film – Only Lovers Left Alive (Bill Gosden was right).
Best closing shot – “Excusez-moi” from the cool vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive.
Best closing sequence – Darlene Love’s last song in Twenty Feet From Stardom.
Best moment: When Grace Kelly’s hand reaches out into the audience to grab a convenient scissors in Dial M For Murder 3D
Best international documentary: Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia.
Most personal international documentary: Stories We Tell.
Films I most regretted missing: Like Someone In Love and Omar.
Most demanding film: Gebo and the Shadow
Most annoying film: Blancanieves.

Best actors: Anzac Wallace and Wi Kuki Kaa in Utu.
Most impressive acting debut: Alice Englert in Ginger and Rosa
Bravest performance: Paulina Garcia in Gloria.

Most fascinating question-and-answer session – Jon Stephenson, with film-makers Annie Goldson and Kay Ellmers, after the festival premiere of Hei Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan;
Runner up – Sister Loyola after the premiere of Gardening With Soul.
Most fascinating panel discussion – Geoff Murphy, Graham Cowley and Gaylene Preston, persuasively explaining why there should be more finance to make large-scale New Zealand movies (instead of only for large-scale international films).

Longest speech – Bill Gosden at closing night (but his thank yous to every person who’d worked on the festival were quite endearing)
Second longest speech – Bill Gosden at opening night (thank yous to sponsors are somehow not quite so involving)

Special award for publicity – the festival’s beautifully-designed daily email newsletters; runner-up, the magnificent printed programme (still free to everyone, in contrast to the $5 or $10 that you pay at concerts and shows.)
Publicity needing a re-think – the daily advertising in the DomPost, which the paper kept relegating to the worst possible position on the entertainment page.
Most unfriendly attitude: the Embassy, for failing to mention the Film Festival in any of its daily DomPost advertisements; runner up, Te Papa, for being inexplicably reluctant to display signage indicating that the film festival was in its theatre.
Most friendly attitude: the Lighthouse, for mentioning the Film Festival in its advertising every day.

Silliest sign – the one at the Embassy saying “Please use the other stairs”
Most ignored sign – the one at the Embassy saying “Please use the other stairs”

Friendliest staff – everyone, at all the film festival’s venues. Everyone! No exceptions!