Films and filmmaking

Apollo Steam Train.

It's all go at the moment. So much so that I nearly forgot the International Film Festival.

The festival has been running for just over a week at the Rialto and has been extended this year, offering three and a half weeks of tasty cinematic treats from all over the world.

I'm got a few hot picks for you but first, in an example of splendid synchronicity, there's a chance to be part of a real-life film being shot in Tauranga, this very weekend!

Well, I say that. By ‘film' I really mean ‘music video' so probably less plot and a lot more rocking out than yer average film, and by ‘Tauranga' I mean ‘Mount Maunganui'.

If you're near the Mount on Sunday, September 3 between 2-5pm, Apollo Steam Train is looking for 50 people to be part of the audience for filming the music video for its new single. The shoot takes place at Totara Street, the performance venue at Mauao Performing Arts Centre, on – rather bleedin' obviously – Totara Street.

Apollo Steam Train, whom I've written about a fair amount in the past year as they launched a debut single and started gigging around the country, are a trio led by singer/guitarist Brendan McCarthy. He is ably supported by the rhythm section of Les Robinson (drums) and Ian Clark (bass).

Video invite

The set-up for the video doesn't seem too unusual and appears to involve using Totara Street as a music venue, asking extras to dress up like it's Saturday night. The band will presumably play or mime. There is an audience registration form online at so if this sounds like a bit of you, then go for it – it's not every day you get a chance to be in a bona fide music vid.

But it may not be for everyone. On the form there are three conditions. The third one seems particularly important: “Yes, I can rock out on command.”

And back to the Rialto and the International Film Festival. There is, as I seem to say each year, a lot to choose from, even a week in. So much so that I enlisted the help of film connoisseur Neale Blaymires from the Tauranga Film Society. Neale has an astonishingly broad knowledge of film and always provides interesting opinions so I asked him to recommend three picks from the packed programme.

Film choices

The first film he chose was actually top of my list too – the latest from Finnish director and king of deadpan humour, Aki Kaurismaki. This would be around his 20th film, though he only occasionally makes it into public consciousness as he did early in his career with the eccentric Leningrad Cowboys Go America. His latest, Le Havre, from 2011 was a laid-back delight.

Kaurismaki's new film ‘The Other Side of Hope' explores the plight of European refugees through a luckless Syrian who washes up in Finland and finds unofficial sanctuary in a Helsinki sushi restaurant. Neale describes it as “a finely balanced comedy, delivered in Kaurismaki's trademark style, where his characters' emotions are dialled in a few degrees above comatose.”

Next up Will Forte (SNL) and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) lend their voices to a Swiss-French stop-motion animated feature about a young orphan rebuilding his life. Neale says: “'My Life As a Courgette' promises to be a wonderful claymation film, which will once again be bypassed by serious people who think cartoons are just for kids. I say tap into your inner child, forget how old you are, and buy a ticket to Courgette. You won't regret it.”

And finally, a documentary – though there are many great films still to show – ‘Citizen Jane: Battle For The City'.

Neale describes it this way: “'Citizen Jane' profiles the influential author Jane Jacobs, who in the 50s and 60s campaigned against the American love affair with cars, and the consequent mania for freeway building which destroyed inner-city life. Still as relevant today as it was back then.”

Check out the full programme on the Rialto's website and – if applicable – enjoy rocking out on Sunday!


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