The Auckland Film Festival is over for another year (bar the sold out screenings of 3-D docos Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Pina), and for the first time ever this Festival has been all killer, no filler. (Even the mild disappointments had their compensating virtues.)
But to start as I don't need to go on, let's get the bitching out of my system as Wellington gathers pace, and Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North fests grow closer. Because, gentle readers, some festival goers need to learn some fraking basic cinema etiquette.
The Live Cinema screening of Nosferatu was wonderful (and I'll write about it at more length); the Festival, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and F.W. Murnau Stiftung (who supplied the restored print) should be feeling very self-satisfied today. The mighty Civic is a hard house to fill, but you did it.
The person sitting in front of me, who arrived ten minutes after the start of a session that was already fifteen minutes late starting? Then, to add insult to injury, got up not once but twice during the film?
I'm really sorry if you had problems finding a park, or you have a infected bladder the size of a toy thimble, but there were hundreds of other people who managed. And I'm reasonably confident nobody paid $28 to have a stranger's arse shoved in their face not once but twice...
Also, a big sarcastic thanks a bunch to the person whose cellphone rang during a rare silent moment in Space Battleship Yamato - a demented exercise in making Michael Bay look understated by comparison. I have my doubts that laughter was really the intended effect there.
I know this sounds like vintage white whine (a.k.a. First World Problems): "Oh, some ghastly oink is trespassing on my visual field! Release the hounds! Flutter a lace kerchief in my face! Bring the smelling salts and my fainting chaise!"
But so's the idea that the rest of the world has to wait because you're too damn cheap to spend $8 dollars to park in the rather large straucture next to the theatre, and somehow expect the seas of equally inconsiderate arses to part when you show up five minutes before kick-off.
Festival management might like to think about this. The Terms and Conditions of Sale on the back of every ticket include this: "Late arrivals may result in non-admittance until a suitable break in the performance." (True, it's called the small print for a reason but it is there.)
I know this condition can be enforced. Ironically enough, because I once spent the first half of an Auckland Philharmonia concert fuming over a mediocre coffee after showing up twenty five minutes late. Candour forces me to admit that I was an utter dick-bag towards the usher, but after I calmed down, came to see her quite reasonable point that third row center isn't a spot you can unobtrusively slip into.
The NZIFF might also want to think about what it does to their "brand" when their harcore supporters - the kind of cinephile who take time off work to see three or four films a day, every day of the Festival - are walking out of another bloody screening that started ten minutes late to make the next one.
This year the Wellington Film Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary. Nobody - least of all Bill Gosden and his merry though slightly shattered band - wants to see a return to 1971, when it was easy to catch seven films over seven days at the Paramount. (More films screened in Wellington, over five venues, on the opening day alone last Friday.)
But the NZIFF shouldn't take patrons loyalty - or patience - for granted. Who knows - a little tough love up front may well pay off. And, folks, remember this: Buying a ticket to a movie doesn't make you the star of the show.