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This Waikato town may have the country's best little film festival

Monday 10th October 2016

In Te Aroha there’s a film festival going down on the last weekend of October that’s going to be like one big school camp.

The Arohanui Film Festival debuted last year and living up to its name (which means “big love”), the festival is non-competitive, so everyone’s just there to kick back and enjoy the films.

The festival is hosted in the town’s old Bendon bra factory, kitted out with 120 comfy seats and an almost-10-metre projector screen and filmmakers will run Q&A sessions, recorded and freely available online.

“It’s like a laid-back party of filmmakers,” festival coordinator Joe Hitchcock says.

Last year there was an actor in one of the films who lived in Te Aroha, Joe says. “He ended up hosting an after-after party and invited the remaining audience to his house, so we all got along pretty well.”

This year he’s expecting a couple hundred people to turn up to the festival.

The organisers learnt a few things the first time around. Joe watched over a hundred films to help select the final programme, which he says was “not fair on filmmakers … not a quality analysis”, and a tightly scheduled programme didn't leave room for meal breaks.

This year the organisers have taken more time to watch the films and picked the best 32 and there’s planned dinner breaks.  

Joe says he can’t wait to see Bitch, a film about a stray from the alleyways of New Delhi that finds herself transported to Sweden. “All the camera angles are from the perspective of a dog.”

The festival will end with the 1981 version of Goodbye Pork Pie.

Organisers hope to eventually expand to be a week-long festival in several venues around town.

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