The New Zealand International Film Festival will return to an in-person event this year, but in a scaled-down format. It will operate in multiple cities between July 28 and Sept. 4, 2022.

Management explained the downsizing as both a reaction to the impact of COVID-19 and as a means to bouncing back bigger in 2023.

It operated as a hybrid festival in 2020 and then in 2021 in cinemas in 11 towns and cities. But it was forced to cancel screenings in Auckland and Hamilton due to the last year’s lockdowns. Capacity reductions in other venues “had a significant impact on our gross revenue.”

The 2022 festival will visit Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Masterton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin and Gore.

The temporary format means fewer films (50-60 for the four main centers, with likely a handful more for Auckland, and 25 titles in each of the provincial sites), fewer venues (particularly in Auckland and Wellington), a shorter duration in each city, a smaller team delivering the festival and reduced above-the-line marketing activity.

“While the program of films will be considerably smaller, we will maintain the quality of films for which the festival is known, with a focus on the highest profile festival titles direct from Cannes and other major festivals, and continue our role as a showcase for New Zealand [feature, documentary and short] films,” said organizers.

Recruitment for a new artistic director to replace Marten Rabarts who left the New Zealand Film Festival Trust last November, will take place this year.

Meantime the selection will be run by Michael McDonnell, with support from Paris-based senior programmer Sandra Reid. They are supported by specific programmers: Ant Timpson, Nicola Marshall, Craig Fasi and Leo Koziol, Malcolm Turner (animation) and Anu Rangachar (Indian and South-East Asian film).

“We’re taking a responsible approach to reduce financial risk and utilize the resources available while continuing to support the cinema industry with a focus on the in-cinema experience, deliver the highest quality experience to our audiences, and maximize the opportunities to provide a solid base on which we can build for 2023,” said Catherine Fitzgerald, chair of the NZFFT.