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Bill Gosden talks the NZ International Film Festival

We catch up with festival director Bill Gosden

It's a whole year since the last festival (well maybe 7 months since it ended nationwide), tell us how you've spent that time?
Real life got a look-in over the summer, but the illusory one kicked in late in February with a trip to the Film Festival in Adelaide - though Snowtown which was the most startling of the films to debut there this year could never be described as escapism.

What's ahead for 2011's festival?
For me? A longer than ever festival season as the overlap between the Auckland and Wellington manifestations is only three days, not the usual ten. The reasons are complicated, but not unrelated to two major upcoming cultural events: Harry Potter and the Rugby World Cup.

Last year the team clocked up 750 screenings - how many this year?
Sandra Reid, Michael McDonnell and I have logged 798 feature-length films. No record is kept of how many were not watched from start to finish -  and Ant's viewing activities remain outside our audit!

How has the vintage been this year?
It's very flavoursome. The films we are showing are heading boldly in many different directions. It's really noticeable how many pairs of opposites we have, eg The Tree of Life vs Melancholia; Love Story vs Taxi Driver; The Solitude of Numbers vs Medianeras. It's a vintage year for romantic comedies and for films about fathers and sons.

Tell us the one film you're most pleased to have got for the festival
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia - because it was the last one in, and signalled the completion of a year's work.

Tell us the one film you didn't get that you really, really wanted - and we want a name...
Spreading disappointment is not our style.

Opening night in Auckland is a New Zealand film by Florian Habicht, how does that feel to shout about NZ talent from the get go?
Terrific. In this case the New Zealand film we're shouting about is a very cosmopolitan one. 

There's been a dribble of information early on this year, which title that you didn't reveal until the programme launch did you find hardest to keep under wraps?
The Tree of Life, which we had sorted just ahead of its Cannes win. How many times after that could we say "we wish" when people asked, and still sound convincingly wistful?

Which are the films you think are sure fire audience winners this year?
A few that certainly deserve to be: Tomboy, Le Havre, Elite Squad: the Enemy Within, Weekend, Tabloid, Buck, Project Nim, 13 Assassins, A Separation, Being Elmo.

Which films would you urge people to see if they're wavering?
Martha Marcy May Marlene and Medianeras  - never be put off by an unhelpful title that you can't pronounce or remember properly. 

Nosferatu -  Live Cinema with the Auckland Philharmonia  Orchestra at the Civic.

Mysteries of Lisbon an incredibly opulent HD treat for all lovers of richly populated, layered, labyrinthine narrative intrigues.

Las Acacias, The Giants, Take Shelter and Elena  -  hot Cannes films so new you probably haven't heard of them. Don't wait to hear about them from your friends in London in November.