The Wellington Film Festival (sorry, New Zealand International Film Festival, Wellington Branch) is a huge undertaking for the committed cinema-goer. Every year we devour the programme for weeks in advance, scheduling annual leave and long “lunch breaks”, trying to work out what is essential and what isn’t. After 20 years of this, I’ve only just begun to realise that in the search for the essential many other pleasures have been passing me by. This year, before I even looked at the programme, I asked the Festival to choose a stack of DVDs for me, with the emphasis on the unheralded and the unexpected. Thus, of the 13 films I’ve been watching over the last three or so weeks, all but one of them were from the back half of the book (and probably would not have been on my personal shortlist) but all of them had something special to offer. So, is my advice for the Festival to not book in advance but instead choose films at random depending on your own availability and proximity to a venue? Maybe it is.