Film societies revive cinema masterpieces

Ryan Reynolds
Isabelle Huppert in White Material

Demand for film screenings outside the mainstream multiplex is boosting the national reach of film societies in 2013.

The New Zealand Federation of Film Societies will host nearly 400 film screenings in 16 societies from Auckland in the north to Riverton in the far south this year. The addition of two new societies in Whanganui and Malvern (just north of Christchurch) brings the total expected audience to 20,000 for the volunteer-run societies.

“This continuing trend of new societies springing up in small rural towns shows that film societies are catering to a gap in the existing commercial cinema market. We regularly screen old classics, rarities and directors’ retrospectives, and can escape the commercial compulsion for the latest and most technologically-advanced,” federation president Ryan Reynolds says.

Programmes are curated locally for each region and key films are sourced by the federation. Confirmed films for this year include Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 Trouble in Paradise, one of four early screwball comedies touring the country; classic road movies Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) and Badlands (1973), the latter starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, and directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life); and two modern surrealist masterpieces, David Lynch’s debut feature Eraserhead (1977) and David Cronenberg’s enigmatic Videodrome (1983).

The featured director in the programme is the Parisienne auteur Claire Denis, whose films, often involving French colonial issues in West Africa, are as famous for their sounds, textures, colours and compositions as for their broader thematic concerns and social commitments.

Four of her features will be programmed: Beau Travail, Trouble Every Day, 35 Shots of Rum, and White Material.

The 2013 programme will also include the remarkable Dreileben Trilogy, which brings together three of the brightest talents in contemporary German cinema.

Each director made a feature-length film on the same subject – the escape of a convicted criminal in a small town – but told from completely different points of view and in radically contrasting filmmaking styles.

These screenings will be open to the general public, with admission by donation.

Two early films by Leos Carax, director of surreal Film Festival hit Holy Motors, will screen: Boy Meets Girl (1984) and The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), with a young Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant. Boy Meets Girl will be screening in New Zealand for the first time.

The programme spans 14 countries, and includes titles by legendary French film essayist Chris Marker (The Last Bolshevik), who died last year aged 91, and radical Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (the New Zealand-filmed Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence), who died on January 15, 2013, aged 80.

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