Indian segment offers two films at Festival

Two films relating to India will be shown as a part of the New Zealand International Film Festival beginning on July 17.

‘The Lunch Box’ and ‘Aunty and the Star People’ are the two films that have been chosen for the Indian segment. Both films would appeal not only to the Indian community but also to other New Zealanders, for they have emotive appeal and relevance.

‘The Lunch Box’ is stated to be a classic movie romance beautifully transposed to the rhythms and flavours of modern-day Mumbai.

Hearts are kindled when a lunchbox, designed to delight the cook’s husband, is accidentally delivered to a more appreciative stranger.

Kenneth Turan, a film critic, said the following in Los Angeles Times: “To the small but choice list of films that gracefully mix a passion for food with other potent emotions – think ‘Babette’s Feast,’ ‘Eat Drink Man Woman,’ ‘Big Night,’ even ‘Ratatouille’ – you can add one more – The Lunchbox.”

Aunty and the Star People

In New Zealand, writer Jean Watson is an anonymous elderly woman living in a modest Wellington flat. In Southern India, she is revered as the famous ‘Jean Aunty.’

Gerard Smyth’s documentary explores her fascinating double life.

Producer-Director Gerard Smyth asked, “Is Jean Watson New Zealand’s Mother Teresa? She is an unsung national hero.”

Born in Whangarei in 1933, Ms Watson now lives in Roseneath, Wellington. She has dedicated her life to the cause of the poor and spends a few months in India every year.

She established the ‘The Karunai Illam Trust’ in 1987 in New Zealand as a charitable trust. ‘Karunai Illam’ (Mercy Home) is a project in Tamil Nadu, India that provides a children’s home, a primary school and a vocational training community college in Nilakottai for the maintenance and education of children and youth from disadvantaged families across the region.

The Illam and other initiatives are managed on a day-to-day basis by ‘Dhan’ Foundation, a leading development organization in South India.

This project seeks to house girls and boys in one new larger premise as they are currently in two small buildings located in two different sites.

This single complex would help better coordination of a number of activities from studies to prayers and more positive interaction among all students and staff.

The Karunai Illam Trust and Dhan Foundation seek to improve the education and living standards of the girls and boys at the Illam by providing them with a safe and nurturing environment where we providing them shelter, food, uniforms and access to education of a high standard.

Further details can be obtained on phone (04) 4794235; Email:

Films from Iran

Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars and Fish and the Cat are two Iranian films selected for screening at the Film Festival.

In a provincial town in Iran, young Sepideh dreams of becoming an astronomer, although almost no one she knows thinks this a fit pursuit for a young woman. Filmed over several years, this documentary traces her surprising progress.

Fish and Cat

Boldly inventive and intricately choreographed, this Iranian one shot wonder weaves an enigmatic time-warp narrative around a group of characters who have congregated at a lakeside camp.

Manohla Dargis, the Chief Film Critic at New York Times said, “A tour de force; as quietly political as it is brazenly cinematic.”

About the Festival

The New Zealand International Film Festival is a national event extending the cinematic options of audiences and filmmakers throughout New Zealand.

A programme of about 170 features is presented in Auckland and Wellington.

The Festival opens in Auckland one weekend and gets underway in Wellington the next, overlapping for ten of their respective 17-day seasons.

A smaller programme then travels to twelve further centres.

The consolidation of several separately evolved Festivals into a single event known as The New Zealand International Film Festival occurred for the first time in 2009.

The New Zealand Film Festival Trust, a non-profit, registered charitable trust organises and operates the annual event.

Auckland Film Festival

Established in 1969 as a component of the Auckland Festival, the ‘Auckland International Film Festival’ has become a fund-raising event to subsidise live arts.

Rescued from this role by the intervention of the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies in 1984, the Festival achieved an audience in excess of 100,000 for the first time in 2005. The year 2000 marked NZIFF’s return to the fabulously refurbished Civic Theatre, South Pacific’s most insanely beautiful picture palace.

Wellington Film Festival

The Wellington Film Festival was inaugurated by Lindsay Shelton and the Wellington Film Society with seven films in 1972 to supplement the meagre options of Wellington filmgoers.

Thirty years later, those options were not at all meagre, but the Festival continued to grow, showing over 150 programmes to audiences in excess of 71,000.

NZIFF has a long tradition of supporting New Zealand filmmakers.

The main venue is the Embassy Theatre. NZIFF has played a major role in the theatre’s rehabilitation and continuing refurbishment.

New Zealand International Film Festival 2014

Auckland: July 17 to August 3, 2014

Wellington: July 25 to August 10, 2014

Dunedin: July 31 to August 17, 2014

Christchurch: August 7 to August 24, 2014

Website: www.nziff

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