Film festival has record year

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by Greta Yeoman

It was a record-breaking year for Timaru’s New Zealand International Film Festival screenings, organisers have announced.

The annual nationwide film festival, which screened in South Canterbury from August 16-26, recorded its “best ever” audience numbers during the festival’s Auckland, Wellington and Timaru runs, festival director Bill Gosden said.

The festival had also broken its national attendance record for the first time since 2004.

“At a time when we’re all competing with more distractions than ever, we’re thrilled that spending time together at the cinema is still an attractive idea for New Zealand audiences,” Mr Gosden said.

There were 263,017 admissions to this year’s festival nationwide, beating the 2004 record of 262,260.

The Timaru programme included Kiwi documentary maker Pietra Brettkelly’s Yellow Is Forbidden, 1950s-Europe-set musical drama Cold War and two sold-out screenings of the documentary Celia, about the late activist and author Celia Lashlie.

The second screening of Celiawas added midway through the Timaru festival due to audience demand.

Timaru Film Society president Ross Stevenson said the success of Celia had contributed to the bumper year for Timaru.

He also hoped Timaru Film Society members had contributed to the success of the festival, particularly as he had recognised society members at all of the 10 films he had been to.

“I think [the] film society has whetted people’s appetite for well-made films, whether they are from Western countries or elsewhere.”

Festival organisers confirmed the event would return to Timaru next year, from August 15 to 25.