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Cannes top prize winner to open film festival

Monday 12th June 2006-06-12

MEDIA RELEASE

Cannes top prize winner to open the Telecom New Zealand International Film Festivals

Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, winner of cinema’s most prestigious award, the Cannes Palme d’Or, will open this year’s Telecom New Zealand International Film Festivals and screen in the country’s four main centres. It is just one of many Cannes winners to play at the Festivals.

“We are delighted to have scooped this controversial film for the opening of the 2006 Telecom New Zealand International Film Festival. This year’s programme is clamorous with films of activism and protest, so it’s the perfect year to be celebrating this richly deserved accolade to one of cinema’s most persistent agitators,” says Bill Gosden, Festival Director.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which caps 40 years of politically provocative filmmaking by the British director, was selected as the ultimate prize winner from 20 films in the official competition over a week ago at the 59th Cannes Film Festival.

The provocative drama is set in Ireland's County Cork between 1920 and 1922; that dangerous period that saw the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty in December 1921 and the outbreak of civil war soon afterwards. It was a civil war that pitched brother against brother, as Irish popular history still very much remembers it, and it's this powerful dynamic that Loach adopts to tell this moving and intelligent story.

Another 2006 Cannes prize-winner secured for the New Zealand Festival audience is 12:08 East of Bucharest, which won the Camera d’Or prize for Best Film by a New Director.

Corneliu Porumboiu’s feature début is a sardonic take on retrospective heroism, in which two guests are invited to recall their moments of revolutionary glory by their small-town TV channel. The revolution in question is that which took place 16 years ago and freed Romania from Communist rule.

Also fresh from the 2006 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is Princess, a Danish animated feature about a priest’s violent campaign against pornography, and the powerful psychological drama Jindabyne, Ray Lawrence’s follow-up to hugely popular Lantana.

From the Un Certain Regard category (those films in the official selection but not part of the competition) the Festival has secured: Ten Canoes, the stunning indigenous Australian film by Roolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr, described by LA Weekly as a “celebration of the art of storytelling, and of the power of stories to transcend all barriers of space and time and language. This is a movie with sheer magic in it”; and Richard Linklater’s film A Scanner Darkly, a sci-fi slacker movie based on Philip K. Dick’s offbeat novel of the same name in which Linklater returns to the animated live-action technique of his 2001 cult hit Waking Life.

The Death of Mr Lazarescu, which took the Un Certain Regard Award in 2005, is another Romanian film that will be shown at the Festival. Described by Bill Gosden as “a drama about a 63-year-old drunk trying to get the medical attention he’s convinced he needs. It is a mesmerizing, suspenseful, darkly funny, shrewdly humane and spiritually challenging movie. A masterpiece”.

The Forsaken Land, which took 2005 Cannes glory by way of the Camera d’Or Award, will also screen at the Festival. Described as “unmistakably the work of someone in complete control of his material”, the film by 27-year-old Vimukthi Jayasundara, is a spare, poetically fragmented and haunting look at life in the uneasy post-traumatic aftermath of decades of civil war in Sri Lanka.

The Telecom New Zealand International Film Festivals has also secured several beautifully restored archival prints of Cannes award-winning classics which offer audiences unique big screen viewing opportunities.

Los Olvidados, by the great director Luis Buñuel, winner of the 1950 Cannes Best Director Award, is a gritty saga set amid the slums of Mexico City and follows a roving pack of abandoned street kids as they struggle to survive a typical day. "The singularly unvarnished look at life on the streets still impresses," says Bill Gosden.

Under Satan's Sun the controversial 1987 Palme d'Or winner and the first French film so honoured in 21 years, is a dark and demanding study of faith and evil, starring Gérard Depardieu in one of his most powerful performances. It is one of ten films featured in the Festivals’retrospective dedicated to the Maurice Pialat.

This year’s programme draws from a pool of over 150 features, documentaries, animated and short films hand picked by the Festivals’ programmers over the last year from around the world. The entire programme will be announced in Auckland on 20 June and Wellington on 22 June.

The Festivals tour 16 centres around New Zealand between July and November. Telecom recently renewed its sponsorship of the Festival for a further two years. Telecom’s Head of Group Brand and Sponsorship Peter Parussini said the Festival has grown each year since the company became involved, with Auckland achieving a record crowd in 2005.

“Film is another way of communicating, using a combination of technology and creativity, that clearly touches the lives of many New Zealanders in a unique way. We are delighted to be involved with bringing the world of film to New Zealanders,” Parussini said.

Festival dates: Auckland July 13 – 30, Wellington July 21 – 6 Aug, Dunedin July 28 – Aug 13, Christchurch Aug 3 – 20, Palmerston North Aug 10 – 27, Hamilton Aug 17 – Sept 3, Napier Aug 23 – Sept 10, Tauranga Aug 31 – Sept 13, New Plymouth Sept 7 – 20, Nelson Sept21 – October 4, Greymouth Oct 5 – 9, Masterton Oct 11 – 25, Queenstown Oct 26 – Nov 8, Levin Nov 2 – 15, Gisborne Nov 9 – 22, Whangarei Nov 16 – 29.

The 2006 website www.nzff.telecom.co.nz awaits your visit.

ENDS

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