COVID-19: Auckland leg of 2021 NZ Film Festival cancelled

The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) has cancelled the Auckland leg of this year's festival due to the city's current COVID-19 restrictions.

"It is with very heavy hearts that we make this announcement today," said NZIFF Chair Catherine Fitzgerald.

Last year, the festival took place with a hybrid virtual and physical version, but in 2021 announced it was moving back to an entirely in-cinema format.

It was set to launch later this month in Auckland at The Civic Theatre with Dame Jane Campion's latest film The Power of The Dog, which recently won the Silver Lion prize for best director at the Venice Film Festival.

But this week, the Government announced Auckland's pandemic restrictions will remain in place for some time amid the current Delta outbreak.

"With Auckland in a form of alert level 3 for some weeks to come and uncertainty around when capacity limits will be lifted, it is no longer possible for us to go ahead with the Auckland edition of this year's festival," said Fitzgerald.

"We recognise this decision is a disappointment to our Auckland audiences and we now look to our dedicated audiences in the rest of the country to rally behind the film festival and show their support by coming to the screenings we will present in 12 towns and cities nationwide."

She said the festival team has "worked under extraordinary circumstances to do everything possible" on this year's programme and that they "held out as long as possible but had to make [the Auckland] decision today to be fiscally responsible".

The festival is still planned to go ahead around much of the rest of Aotearoa.

NZIFF 2021 is now set to launch in Christchurch on October 29, in Wellington on November 4 and Dunedin on November 5, followed by nine regional centres.

The full programme for the festival will be announced in coming days.