My Disgusting Film Festival Habits


When the New Zealand International Film Festival dumps itself all over the puny pen of my existence, I happily flounder around it like a pig in mud. But just like a pig in mud, I gather a load of disgusting habits with it.

I’m lucky enough to attend around 30 screenings during this filmic fortnight. Over this intense 18-day period, where I literally see at least one film a day, I have to manipulate the very nature of my being in order to survive.

I’m not proud of these disgusting habits, but I won’t deny them either. Let’s start with the one every Kiwi can relate to…

I drink too much

If my liver were a person, she would be packing my belongings in separate boxes and telling me to pick them up and leave – before she dumps the load all over my new denim trousers. Yeah, I end up drinking more than usual during NZIFF.

I catch up with a few film-loving people during this time, usually over a post-film chat and a single beer. But what starts as “That was a rousing cinematic achievement” often leads to “Want another Kilkenny?” before ending up in “Are bars evern alllllowed to closeeee? Tha’ sherd be irrllegal. F&%kin’ John Key…”

Adding to my constant intoxication are the alcohol-ready events that occur in association with the festival like the opening and closing nights, the Braindead live script read and Pulp karaoke – some of those being Flicks events, to be fair. Though I should probably cut down on the booze, I love the out-of-cinema socialising nonetheless, a trend I hope expands with future NZIFFs.

Because of these late nights in town…

My flatmates think I’m dead

I flat with two lovely young women whose very existence is a credit to the human race. They’re so lovely in fact that they’re probably making my funeral arrangements as we speak, because I’m never around the flat during this time. Whether I’m coming home after midnight from a late screening or waking up too damn early in order to compensate for the hours of work I didn’t do, there’s no room for actual ‘living’ in my living quarters.

I also have no time to cook, which means…

I buy way too many cookies from Mrs Higgins

The apron-wearing devil known as Mrs. Higgins gave rise to her hell-spawn cookie stall eons ago, or so the legend goes. Almost all the cinemas I have to go to require me to pass this canyon of unholy temptation, but as strong as my spirit is, I cannot resist the alluring scent of a white-chocolate macadamia cookie.

I buy so many God-damn cookies from this place, they may as well make me employee of the month. It’s a slippery slope too, as I end up buying even more unhealthy crap as a result of being stuck in town with not a minute to spare. Cookies, ice cream, fast food, they are an expanding snowball of sugar-n-shit that threatens to bowl over the five-year diet (give or take five years) of raisin couscous and lemon grass tea.

It’s not financially viable either. As a result…

I abuse my wallet

As if it wasn’t difficult enough paying for movie tickets (yes, I do pay for most of my movie tickets), there are the supplementary costs required to fuel my disgusting behaviour. These costs tend to be AS MUCH as the tickets themselves, and my wallet can’t handle the pressure.

The poor little guy is still hanging on a promise I made last year that I’d start a savings account like a responsible adult. If he knew me however – truly knew who I was as a human being – he’d know that I’m neither responsible nor an adult. But it’s clear that he doesn’t know me, and I’m kind of offended by that. So until he learns his lesson, I’m not going to feel bad about the abuse.

You may think that’s disgusting, but that’s nothing compared to my most disgusting film festival habit…

I always complain about my film festival problems

The New Zealand International Film Festival is one of my most treasured annual occasions, and it’s one I get to fully exploit because of my job in the movie media industry. Yet, I constantly find myself complaining about how tough the experience is to people who have it far tougher than I do. I’m conscious of this too, and yet I still do it – I’ve even dedicated this blog post to such brittle bitching.

Why do I do this? Maybe my life is so uninteresting that I cling to these petty little complaints to keep people invested in me. Perhaps it’s in my nature as a critic to find something to complain about in an otherwise flawless experience. Or I could just be an ignorant white person who finds humour in his first world problems. Whatever the reason, this is – without a doubt – my most disgusting film festival habit.

When life gives you lemons and tequila, don’t complain about the lemons.