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The Guv’ner

By NZ and TV

A couple of years ago, while I was running the bar at Downstage, I was lucky enough to share a couple of conversations with acting legend (and Laureate) George Henare who was playing Dracula at the time. He told us some tales of shooting the New Zealand historical epic “The Governor” back in the late 70s and I asked him why it was so difficult to actually see. He told me that the actors’ contracts stated that any further screenings meant that they got to be paid again — at the fairly extraordinary rate of 100%. I asked him whether he felt sad that so many New Zealanders wouldn’t be able to see such an important piece of work — not just the colonial history but the television history. “No,” said George, “You want to do something with it, pay me. That was the deal.”

And fair enough, too. Actors have been doing it tough in NZ for years and nowadays they don’t even get proper residuals or have to threaten to quit so that they don’t become ring tones without permission.

But imagine my surprise when @publicaddress announced that the long lost first episode of “The Governor” was available to watch online at NZ On Screen. Which is awesome. I just hope that someone remembered George.

Preview: World Cinema Showcase

By Cinema and Wellington

Too late to be more than 50% useful to anyone, here’s my World Cinema Showcase preview:

WSC 09 StarAs summer gives way to autumn, and Daylight Saving Time gently releases its grip on our priorities, the first significant film festival of the year returns to take up residence at the Paramount. The World Cinema Showcase is two very tidy weeks of great filmgoing, almost as if the grand, winter, Festival has been distilled down to a manageable essence.

Within, 33 features (and one omnibus collection of shorts) compete for your attention and, luckily, the long Easter weekend allows you take full advantage. A few of the titles were made available to critics as previews, but many more are on my list of films I simply must see on the big screen and, depending on your tastes and interests, nothing is un-recommendable.

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FilmSoc: Another year of great value film watching

By Cinema and Wellington

Film Society logo eyeThose of us that try and take cinema seriously have very few forums where we can truly express our passion and the Monday evening screenings at the Wellington Film Society are the alter at which we worship.

For over 60 years Wellingtonians have been gathering to watch flickering images from all over the world. In the days before the words nerd or geek we were called buffs (and were proud of it) and we still gather in our hundreds at the Paramount picture theatre to bathe in the glory of a rectangular image on a silver screen — shadows cast by films from exotic places (and some from less far afield).

This year’s Feb-Nov programme kicks-off on Monday with a real treat — Garden of Earthly Delights is the first screening in a series of films by acclaimed Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski and it’s a prime example of the kind of screening that only the Film Society can provide. It’s an award-winning art movie about love, loss, morbidity and creation and the director will be present at the screening to take questions.

Other highlights in this year’s broadly curated programme include a couple of early films by Gus Van Sant (Milk), recent documentaries Manufactured Landscapes and Darwin’s Nightmare and rare 35mm presentations of festival favourites La Sentinelle (1992), Diva (1981) and Paradzhanov’s masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates (1979).

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 4 March, 2009.

While filling in for Graeme Tuckett on Nine to Noon this morning I gave the Film Society a bit of a deserved plug. It really is a treasure. You can listen here (or download):


More Ebert

By Asides, Dinner for One and Wellington

Roger Ebert on the personal, private places he loves (and the joys of being alone with them, as well as the occasional pleasures to be found in sharing them):

I first visited the Moscow Arms near Pembridge Square in 1970, when the room fee at the hotel now named the Blue Bells was £4 a night. I have never met anybody in that pub. I always sit in the same corner booth. There is a man who comes in every lunchtime, tattooed, bald, and wearing a motorcycle jacket. He is nearly 40 years older now, but he is still there, and it looks like it’s still the same jacket. Has he noticed me crossing his field of vision 50 or 75 times in his lifetime? Certainly not. But if he still comes at lunchtime every day, it is my duty to bear witness, because by now I have become the only person in the Moscow Arms who knows how long he has been doing this, or cares. I believe this includes him.

I too enjoy sitting alone in cafés, restaurants and bars. Indeed this very morning I took brunch at The Cheeky Pipi in Island Bay and, despite the average-ness of the coffee and the meal, I enjoyed the sitting, the reading and the watching.