The Italian Film Festival (IFF), which has long been the largest of the country-specific festivals, has closed its doors and won’t run a 2015 edition. Festival director Tony Lambert made the announcement by email yesterday evening.
Culturally-focused organisations which rely on sponsorship will testify that times are getting tougher and sponsorship is harder to come by. Last year the Hong Kong Festival removed the film component of its programme. Earlier this year Doc Edge presented a reduced programme after it lost a significant part of its Auckland sponsorship as the Council tightened its belt to cover losses caused by Alex Swny’s messiah complex.
The IFF has run for the last 19 years, with Lambert in charge for the last 14. Ironically, the shift to digital exhibition has been a major player in the festival’s demise. Although it makes it cheaper to get the films to NZ and move them around the country (the IFF played up to 17 centres), the IFF’s major sponsor for several years was freight company DHL.
The IFF always offered a substantial programme of titles, a solid cross-section of the Italian industry’s output. Even last year, when the festival’s reach was reduced to four centres, the programme ran to 17 features. The festival will be missed, although lovers of Italian cinema can take some small comfort from the handful of Italian titles playing this year’s NZIFF.