The festival screens around 50 films during the week, some of them in competition.
Toa Fraser’s Dean Spanley opens the festival; Jane Campion’s Bright Star closes it on the 18th, so Kiwis can claim the alpha and omega thing and also the bizarre pairing of a couple of very English-focused films from a couple of very unEnglish directors.
In between, Vincent Ward’s Rain of the Children, Armagan Ballantyne’s The Strength of Water, Juliette Veber’s Trouble is my Business and
Sima Urale’s Coffee and Allah all screen along with a considerably larger number of Australian films.
The Strength of Water is the only Kiwi film in competition, up against five Aussie features: Peter Carstairs’ September, Andrew Lancaster’s Accidents Happen, Ivan Sen’s Belladonna, Kriv Stenders’ Lucky Country and likely favourite Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah.
Aussie actor Anthony LaPaglia (The Bank, Without A Trace) heads the jury.
In the shorts section, The Graffiti Of Mr Tupaia (Christophe Dudman 2008), The Road Out Of Town (Jeremy Dumble & Adam Luxton 2008), Qantas winner The Six Dollar Fifty Man (Mark Albiston & Louis Sutherland 2009), Undergrowth (Grant Major 2008), Careful with that power tool (Jason Stutter 2009), Somewhere Only We Know (Jamie Lawrence 2009), The Big Happiness (Michael Humphrey 2008) and Betty Banned Sweets (Michelle Savill 2008) screen in two separate programmes accompanied by Australian shorts. A Belgian-New Zealand short, Serial Killer by Baudoin & Bruno du Bois (2008) also screens as part of the shorts programme.