New Zealand International Film Festival names new director

Marten Rabarts.

Marten Rabarts will succeed Bill Gosden as the director of the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), starting with the 2020 edition.

Currently responsible for the promotion of Dutch film and film culture worldwide as the head of EYE International at the EYE Film Museum, he will take up the position in October.

Rabarts will attend this year’s festival, which runs from July 18 – August 4 in Auckland, July 26 – August 11 in Wellington, August 1 – 18 in Dunedin and August 8-25 in Christchurch.

The line-up has been programmed with significant input from Gosden, who retired at the end of March after 40 years’ distinguished service, and will be delivered by the NZIFF programming team led by program manager Michael McDonnell and programmer Sandra Reid.

NZIFF Trust chair Catherine Fitzgerald said: “As so many applicants noted, Bill Gosden left unique and large shoes to fill on his recent retirement. From a richly skilled and talented field of applicants, it was such a pleasure to find Marten wished to return to New Zealand and take up the challenge to be the film festival director.

“He brings a wealth of international experience in many aspects of film culture but has always remained firmly connected to his homeland. The NZFFT board were particularly impressed with his passion for creating international opportunities for homegrown talent and amplifying unique voices in cinema, across all his work in sales, production, development and marketing.”

Rabarts said: “Being entrusted with the stewardship and a key role in shaping the future of one of New Zealand’s most significant cultural events is a challenge and honour that draws me back to Aotearoa with excitement and an enthusiasm I trust will match the energy and passion of the NZIFF team who, with Bill Gosden at the helm, have built this world class celebration of cinema, stories and ideas.

“At a film festival like ours, audiences don’t just ‘go to the movies’, they experience cinema which requires them to slip inside the skin of others; confront the joy, pain, tenderness, discomfort, triumph and paradox of what it is to be fully human in our turbulent times. A film festival doesn’t pretend to offer easy answers, but I look forward to presenting films and unique cinema voices from at home and around the world that continue to pose the most urgent artistically intriguing questions of our times.”

Born in Coromandel, Marten moved overseas at 16 to pursue a career in theatre and contemporary dance, transitioning into film in New York in the mid-1980s.

He has lived in Australia, the UK, the US and for most of the last 20 years in the Netherlands.

In his previous role as artistic director of the Binger FilmLab he helped bring together Kiwi and international filmmakers with Dutch filmmakers to develop their films, including Māori Boy Genius, The Strength of Water, Stray, The Babadook and Touch Me Not.