Ticket sales from international film being donated to Syrian families


Movie-goers to a special film screening will be helping Syrian refugees build a kitchen garden half a world away.

Timaru is getting an extra film from the New Zealand International Film Festival’s line-up to raise funds for the charity Syria’s Forgotten Families. The one-off screening, of Lebanon film The Insult, is scheduled for 7pm on September 4, four days after the conclusion of the film festival at local cinema Movie Max.

Fundraiser co-organizer Jayne Blakemore said money made from selling tickets at $20 would go towards providing the basics of a small kitchen garden for refugee families living in a camp in Syria.

“Extra income, extra food for the family, and a huge boost in mental well-being for people who may be deeply traumatised,” Blakemore said.

“This can change their lives dramatically. Growing vegetables and flowers can restore dignity and beauty to people who have lost hope.”

Fundraiser co-organiser Liz Sakimura said establishing the garden would be “really, really vital”.

“One of the biggest things about the people in these camps is the dullness of their lives and their diets,” Sakimura said.

“When we see other people struggling like that I think all of us have an obligation to look after each other.”

The film – about a trivial, personal conflict between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee that consumes and divides the two communities – is set about 400km from Syria.

Blakemore said the film was relatable. “It’s a situation that can happen anywhere in the world.”

The Insult is not the only film from the festival’s line-up to air outside the two-week Timaru event. Celia, a Kiwi documentary detailing the life of social justice advocate Celia Lashlie who died three years ago aged 61, is getting an extra session at 6pm on August 30.

Movie Max Timaru theatre manager Robert Jeromson said the documentary premiered in Timaru on Thursday night to a sold-out cinema, leading to a second viewing being organised to meet demand.

While Jeromson did not wish to disclose how many people on average attended the festival films, he said the fact numbers for Celia had hit capacity showed the event was a success.

“It’s the only one that’s sold out but some of them have been quite full.

“It’s going really well and we’re very happy with it.”

Blakemore said “people may be wise to make the most of this international festival” after the cancellation of the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival was announced earlier this month.

French Film Arts Trust chairman John Martins said in a statement that while this year’s french film festival had attracted over 36,000 admissions countrywide, the group needed to take time to rebuild the festival into a more sustainable model.

“Sadly, the limited size of the box office available for subtitled films in a single foreign language, steadily increasing costs, and very limited resources means that the commercial risk involved in mounting another edition of the festival in its present form is just too challenging,” Martins said.



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