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Kiwi fests may face deficits

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Insect docu “Microcosmos,” British drama “Mrs. Brown,” the refurbished version of “Vertigo,” Kiwi film “Topless Women Talk About Their Lives” and the Mohammed Ali docu “When We Were Kings” were the clear audience favorites at New Zealand’s Wellington Film Festival and the companion Auckland fest.

The Wellington edition (July 16-Aug. 2) clocked a record 53,195 attendees, beating last year’s previous best by more than 2,000, while Auckland (July 11-26) sold a healthy 77,550 tickets, some 2,500 short of the record.

But the finances of both noncompetitive events were thrown off-kilter by the industry’s self-funding Film & Video Labelling Body’s unexpected decision in April to end the traditional concession of full fees to classify fest films.

The fests’ director, Bill Gosden, told Daily Variety the FVLB’s decision to charge the full cost of $130 per title (usually adopting the classification used in Australia or the U.K.) or more if films had to be previewed, would cost his org more than $19,500 — more than triple last year’s bill. Gosden said that would likely result in both fests incurring a deficit, although the financial result won’t be clear until November. He added that the FVLB indicated it could no longer afford to offer the fests discounted rates.

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