Hidden film treasures discovered in New Zealand
At one time, New Zealand was considered the end of the line as far as film prints went. Films were shown in the U.S. or U.K. before being sent to Australia, and then they moved on to New Zealand. By this time, the prints were considered fully used and dumped. Studios were not interested in paying to have used prints sent back to the U.S. and no one considered archiving them. But, of course, there were collectors and film fans, and their collecting impulse has seen many a lost film discovered.
One such person was New Zealand cinema projectionist Jack Murtagh, who passed away in 1989. After his death, a treasure trove containing hundreds of films from the 1920s was found in his garden shed. One of the films was the only known copy of the 1923 Alfred Hitchcock picture The White Shadow. The film was restored and had a screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Headquarters in Los Angeles last month.
The Orator (O Le Tulefale) is the first feature made in the Samoan language. The New Zealand-Samoan family drama, written and directed by Tusi Tamasese, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before its New Zealand opening last month.
The AFI Awards have been celebrating excellence in Australian films since 1958, but now is the time for a change. The AFI has launched the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) and the first AACTA awards will be held in January next year.
Red Dog, which I wrote about last month, has continued to perform strongly, sitting at the fifth spot in the box-office charts with a very nice weekend average of A$3,144 in its eighth week. The feature is now the tenth-highest Australian grossing film of all time with $17.2 million and growing. Two sequels have been announced.
It is now more than nine months since the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand and none of the central business district cinemas have reopened. Most suburban cinemas recommenced screenings soon after the earthquake. But Hoyts Moorhouse, the Regent on Worcester, the Academy Cinemas, Metro Gold and Reading the Palms remain closed.
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