New Zealand Film Festival Shifts Dates to Avoid Cannes Clash

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The New Zealand International Film Festival, normally held in mid-year, will shift to new dates later in 2021. It plans to operate as an in-cinema event in October, November and December.

The move reflects an anticipated improvement in coronavirus conditions by the fourth quarter of the year. It also helps avoid a dates clash with the Cannes film festival, which recently shifted its planned operation from May to July.

“By moving our dates, we can maximize every opportunity to present the film festival to the high international standard our audience enjoys and expects,” festival organizers said. The new dates allow them to pick up titles that will premiere at Cannes, Venice and Toronto.

Organizers also anticipate the festival returning to its usual July and August timing in 2022.

“The (New Zealand) government’s rollout projections indicate that vaccinating all border and managed quarantine facility workers will soon be complete, and this critical step will securely ringfence our ports and borders. By late October/early November, the vaccination will have been available to around 80% of New Zealand’s adult general population, minimizing the chance of the necessary lockdowns we’ve experienced in the past months, which can cripple audience-based public events,” the festival said in a statement.

In previous years, the festival ran for as long as four months and traveled around the country, sometimes with a single 35mm print. Organizers now propose a more compact version, albeit still visiting 13 towns and cities. The first screening will take place in Auckland on Oct. 28 and the last in multiple locations on Dec. 5, 2021. “This will produce a highly visible and truly national film festival,” organizers said in a statement.

  • Christina Milligan, a veteran producer, has been appointed the independent chair of New Zealand’s newly established Premium Production Fund. The fund was announced in December by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage to support New Zealand production of high-quality screen content that tell New Zealand stories for global audiences. The fund is overseen by the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand On Air, and Te Mangai Paho. Milligan has credits including “The End of the Golden Weather” and TV series “Gloss” and executive produced “Mt Zion.”
  • Annabelle Sheehan is to step down as CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission at the end of May, after completing a three-year term. Personal health issues mean she will relocate to Australia where she will complete her treatment and focus on her family. She will make a full recovery. Executive search begins immediately.