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Paolo Bertolin Set as Artistic Director of New Zealand Film Festival Following Programming Exodus

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The New Zealand International Film Festival has appointed veteran programmer Paolo Bertolin as its new artistic director. The festival, which travels around the country, will return in July and August, but stop in just four places.

The announcement follows the release of the festival’s ten-year strategy document, “Te Ahua o te Whanau Marama,” in November 2023, in which the organization acknowledged the significant impact of operating within the challenging climate of a global pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis and outlined its plans to adapt the festival to ensure its future viability. 

It also follows the resignation of more than half of the festival’s programmers in the past month. They include: Ant Timpson, programmer of the Incredibly Strange sidebar; NZIFF senior programmer Sandra Reid; animation programmer Malcolm Turner; Square Eyes programmer who oversaw children’s and educational content Nic Marshall; and Chinese and East Asian film programmer Vicci Ho. The festival’s announcement did not acknowledge the recent departures.

“Paolo’s appointment is the first major step in rebuilding the festival to ensure its longevity and excellence and we are excited about engaging new artistic leadership and vision,” said New Zealand Film Festival Trust chair Catherine Fitzgerald. “NZIFF remains as committed as ever to presenting a world-class festival and preserving the cinema-going experience, and we look forward to escaping Aotearoa’s winter weather inside some of our nation’s most beloved venues to enjoy the best of film alongside our audiences.” 

Bertolin has worked for several international film festivals and institutions, including Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, Locarno Open Doors, IFF Rotterdam, Doha Film Institute, Mumbai Film Festival, Beijing Film Festival, Cannes’ Semaine de la critique, the Udine Far East Film Festival and Nyon Visions du Réel.

NZIFF 2024 will screen in four cities across eight venues, opening in Wellington on July 31, followed by Auckland on Aug. 7, Dunedin on Aug. 14 and Christchurch on Aug. 15.