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New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

Q & A with Simone Horrocks

1) Tell us about your film at this year's NZ International film Festival

I an honoured to be having the New Zealand premiere of my first feature film After The Waterfall at the Auckland Film Festival, with further screenings in both Auckland and Wellington.  After The Waterfall is a film about a man who loses everything and has to find his way into life.  John Drean is a Piha Park Ranger whose daughter disappears in mysterious circumstances, we witness the slow dissolve of his marriage, and the film asks the questions:  How do we forgive the unforgivable?  How do we live with unfinished business, with absences and silences, and the things we cannot say?  It's a harrowing story, but for me this is a film about healing, and human resiliance, as John Drean finds a way to make his peace with the past.

Antony Starr, who has a huge following for his duel roles in Outrageous Fortune, plays the lead role in After The Waterfall .  We have been working together since 2004, and he has been an important collaborator throughout the process of development.  Audiences will see a whole other side to Antony's talent in After The Waterfall , he has taken a really deep dive, and his performance is outstanding.

The film was shot on location in West Auckland, Piha, New Lynn and Henderson.

2) What does it mean to be part of a festival like this?

It is huge to be part of the New Zealand Film Festival! It's such an important event for film lovers, a real celebration of film, and a time for audiences to lose themselves in the cinema experience.  We will be having our New Zealand premiere at the festival, so that is a big night for us.  Apart from the novel the film is based on (which is by an English author), our film is 100% New Zealand cast, crew, music and finance, so for me it makes sense that our most important audience is the New Zealand audience.  I did my training as a film maker in England and while I have been back for 9 years, I'm still somewhat under the radar here, so the New Zealand Film Festival is also a great opportunity to introduce myself to the New Zealand film making community.

3) How important do film festivals like this one continue to be?

Film Festivals are very important. Audiences are choosing to watch films on many different media now, dvd, ipods, the internet & but interestingly Film Festival audiences are up all around the world.  People are choosing to take this time to see a wide range of films and documentaries in the cinema - to take some risks - and enjoy part of an audience.  It's also an opportunity to meet directors and other film lovers.  It's a very social event.

4) What was the last one you attended? And was there anything which you saw which blew your mind (either good or bad)?
The last film festival I attended was the 5th New Zealand Film Festival tour of the People's Republic of China, in June of this year, where we had the world premiere of After The Waterfall in Beijing.  It was an amazing experience, everything about Beijing is mind blowing, and as very few non-Chinese films have their world premiere there, they really rolled out the red carpet for us.  We had the screening at the brand new MOMA cinema complex, and drinks first in the Kubrick bar.  Mayor Bob Harvey attended as part of the New Zealand Film delegation, along with the New Zealand Ambassador to Beijing, many distinguished members of the Chinese Film Community.  We had a great audience, very hip and informed, and a warm response to the film.  A lot of film makers dream of having their premiere in Cannes, or Hollywood, but I think Beijing is way cooler.  There is a lot of interest in New Zealand films in China, and I hope very much to have the opportunity to return. 

5) You get to meet the audience after a screening and take part in Q&As - has there ever been any question which has stumped you?

I've never had a question that has stumped me, but then I  am a director and we do love talking about our films. 

6) Conversely has anyone ever suggested something about your film that you wish you had incorporated?

There are always things about your films you wish you could change, or do better, and yes sometimes people do suggest these things, but by the time you have completed post-production, a director has seen the film literally hundereds of times, and you have to find a way of making your peace with what you have, or you would go crazy. 

7) How important is the feedback to you and the reaction from the cinema going public?

Feedback from the audience is very important. There is nothing more important!  I really value the opportunity at Film Festivals, to stand by my film, and talk to people afterwards.

8) Is there anything else at this year's NZ International Film Festival you're wanting to see?

There are so many things I'd love to see, but as this year as I am supporting my film, I have less time to see films than usual, but my top three picks are EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, JOAN RIVERS:  A PIECE OF WORK, and SHERLOCK JUNIOR/ONE WEEK with the live orchestra.  I'm also looking forward to seeing Tusi Tamasese's VA TAPUIA, a short film shot in Samoa which I think will be really special.