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Earthquake book to launch at NZIFF

Dr Alan Wright

Dr Alan Wright

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 14 August 2015: A new book about how earthquakes have been represented on film will be launched at the newly-restored Isaac Theatre Royal on 20 August during the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Film on the Faultline explores the fractious relationship between cinema and seismic experience, and addresses the important role that film can play in the wake of a major quake.

The book’s editor, Dr Alan Wright, claims that a natural disaster like an earthquake transforms our understanding of the limits and possibilities of cinema, as well as of life itself.

“Earthquakes especially, shift not only the ground beneath our feet but also herald a new way of thinking or being in the world,” says Wright, a senior lecturer in Cinema Studies at the University of Canterbury.

“After major earthquakes in countries as dissimilar as Japan, Chile, Iran and New Zealand, filmmakers have responded with films that challenge ingrained social, political, ethical and philosophical ideas and beliefs.”

The films discussed in the book cover a wide range of genres and styles (horror, melodrama, art cinema, essay film, documentary, animation, autobiography, the disaster film) and come from all over the world (Iran, Italy, Greece, China, Japan, Korea, Chile, the United States, Australia and New Zealand). The diverse sample of essays by international film scholars examines a variety of films from the early days of silent film up to the present – from Earthquake in Adelaide, a rare short from 1912, to Aftershock, one of the largest grossing films in China, and much more along the way.

Wright says launching the book during the New Zealand International Film Festival in a city recently devastated by earthquakes, but in an iconic building restored after significant quake damage, “is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the publication of the book”. 

“I never thought of it purely as an academic text. It began as my own attempt to think about what happened to us in Christchurch and to place it within a critical context,” he adds.

A portion of the royalties from Film on the Faultline will be donated to the relief fund for the earthquake in Nepal. The book launch will be held at 6.15pm on Thursday 20 August in the Dress Circle Bar, Upstairs Foyer at Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal.