Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin

Over the last 15 years Francesca Rudkin has been working in the media as a film and music reviewer (NZ Herald, Breakfast TV), a television presenter and producer, and voice over artist. Recently, Francesca joined Rialto Channel as their resident blogger, allowing her to indulge in her love of world cinema. Her next challenge is to convince her young children that being a “Cinephile” is a legitimate profession.

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The best indie films and documentaries on TV this week

Posted on Monday 6/20/2016 June, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

This week on Rialto Channel catch the brand new French spy thriller series The Bureau, and there's a box set on Sunday of This is England ’90.  

Walt Disney: Part 1… Thursday 23rd June, 8.30pm

This two part documentary series looks at the life and career of one of the most loved creators of all time; Walt Disney. Filled with expert talking heads and fabulous archive footage this in depth documentary looks at Disney’s childhood, early films and the creation of Mickey Mouse, and Disneyland. It’s a documentary that can be shared with your kids, and a wonderful reminder of what a visionary Walt Disney was. Catch Part 2 on Thursday 30th June at 8.30pm.

The Bureau: Series 1, Episode 1 … Friday 24th June, 8.30pm

Recently we’ve seen an increase in television networks committing huge budgets to cinematic programming, producing television series with a high quality of writing, production and casting, and the French television industry is no different. Following on from The Returned, Braquo and up coming Netflix production Marseille is espionage drama The Bureau. Staring film actors Mathieu Kassovitz and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, The Bureau follows secret agent Malotru (Kassovitz) who is abruptly brought back to Paris after working undercover for in Syria for 6 years. Once back home there’s little time to readjust to ‘normal life’ as Malotru deals with the sudden disappearance of another undercover agent, and prepares a new recruit for a mission in Iran. The first episode introduces us to all the players, and by the time the second episode is finished there’s plenty of engaging subplots in play. It’s no surprise The Bureau won Best TV Series from the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics earlier in the year.

The One I Love … Saturday 25th June, 8.30pm

This relationship drama is the debut feature film from American author Charlie McDowell, and tells the story of a couple (Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass) on the brink of divorce who on the advice of their marriage counselor (Ted Danson) head off on a weekend retreat to save their relationship. It’s a smartly written script by Charlie McDowell (son of actress Mary Steenburgen) who is known for his witty twitter feed and the book it produced Dear Girls Above Me, and it’s filled with astute observations about relationships, as well as an unexpected surreal twist. Apart from a brief appearance by Danson, Moss and Duplass (who also produced the film) are the only two people in the film, and for the most part, do an excellent job holding our attention. However, The One I Love gets a little bit too clever for it’s own good at times, and McDowell’s characters are far from endearing – even after 90 minutes.

This is England ’90… Sunday 26th June - all four episodes from 5.50pm

Created by screenwriter and director Shane Meadows. Since the original feature film was released in 2006, there have been three television series documenting the lives of a group of working class friends from Sheffield. The film kicked off in 1983, and this final episode wraps up the lives of Lol, Milky, Woody and the rest of their mates in the 90s as the rave culture emerges on the British music scene. While there are no plans to make any more television series, Meadows was recently reported as saying he wouldn’t mind bookending the This is England saga with another feature film. In the meantime, get nostalgic and enjoy what quite possibly will be the last of this motley crew.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 6/13/2016 June, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

When you think of Ryan Reynolds, mainstream movies such as The Proposal or The Green Lantern come to mind, and yet this Canadian actor has an impressive list of indie films to his name as well. The Nines, Paper Man and Buried are just a few, as well as 2014’s The Voices, directed by Marjane Satrapi. Both Buried and The Voices are Black List films, meaning before they were produced, their scripts made it on to a list that recognises the year's most-liked unproduced screenplays as voted on by film executives and industry insiders. According to the website, “The Black List is where filmmakers find great material to make films and great material finds filmmakers to make them.” It’s also home to Scott Myers' screenwriting blog Go Into The Story, which is very much worth a read if you’ve got the time.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Friday 6/3/2016 June, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Tennis fans can take a break from Roland Garros this week and immerse themselves in the fascinating documentary Althea about one of the game’s great players, Althea Gibson. A moving and inspirational story, the film documents her life and career, including the many obstacles she had to overcome to become the number one female tennis player in the world. Catch Althea this Wednesday evening at 8.30pm in Rialto Presenters: Sports Stories introduced by Willie Los’e

Here are my highlights for the week. 

Rialto Presenters - Willie Los’e

Posted on Wednesday 6/1/2016 June, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

The series Rialto Presenters continues on Wednesday evenings throughout June, and this month former Tongan Rugby International, Auckland and North Harbour player, sports broadcaster and commentator Willie Los’e introduces a diverse collection of sports documentaries. 

The Sports Stories series begins with fish out of water story We Must Go (Wednesday 1st June, 8.30pm), a film that documents the journey of American Bob Bradley who takes on the job of coaching the Egyptian National Soccer team as they fight to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 5/30/2016 May, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Rialto Channel’s A Celebration of Cannes wraps up with this week with two must see films; Swedish satirical comedy Force Majeure and excellent coming of age drama Girlhood. As sad as it is to see May come to an end, there’s plenty on offer throughout June to look forward to including the much lauded television shows This is England ’90 and The Last Panthers starirng Samantha Morton and John Hurt. Also throughout June, Willie Los’e presents a collection of sports documentaries including the fabulous New Zealand documentary The Ground We Won.  

And, here are my highlights for the week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 5/23/2016 May, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Well the 2016 Cannes Film Festival has come to a close with British director Ken Loach winning the Palme d’Or for the second time in his career with his social drama I, Daniel Blake. The film tells the story of an ailing carpenter’s struggle against the bureaucracy of the healthcare system and was well received at the festival. French Canadian director Xavier Dolan (Mommy) took home the Grand Prize for his film It’s Only The End Of The World. The film tells the story of a writer who returns home to tell his father he is dying, and it received mixed reviews in Cannes making it one of the more controversial winners this year. Another British director, Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, Red Road) took home third prize, the Jury Prize for her film American Honey

Here’s a full list of this years winners. 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 5/16/2016 May, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

One week into the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and the premiere of Woody Allen’s new film Cafe Society has been overshadowed by allegations of sexual assault, Julia Roberts scandalously walked barefoot on the red carpet, and George Clooney has taken every opportunity to denounce Donald Trump. In amongst all the scandal, politicking and fashion, there have been some great films on show too! Check out Indiewire’s excellent coverage of the Cannes Film Festival at

Here are my picks for the week. 

Q&A with Marty from 13th Floor Sessions.

Posted on Wednesday 5/11/2016 May, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions about 13th Floor Video Sessions. It’s fabulous to see New Zealand music on Rialto Channel - every night! 

Firstly - tell us a little about the 13th Floor.  Why did you start the 13th Floor website, and how did the Video Sessions evolve out of it?

The 13th Floor began about 5 years ago. I had been writing for various magazines previously, but the changes in the music industry meant that there was no longer much paid work for a music journalist, so I decided that if I was going to continue writing, I’d do it for my own outlet. The Video Sessions started about two years ago. A professional still photographer friend of mine, Tony Nyberg, wanted to get into video work. He suggested having bands come up to my studio/living room and he would shoot and edit the sessions. This worked surprisingly well and after several sessions Tony felt he was trained sufficiently as a video editor. By that time bands were approaching me to have them record Video Sessions so I found another music fan with several video cameras, Dennis Thorpe, and he and I have been making them ever since, with me taking over the editing duties (My real job is as a video editor at Sky TV). 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 5/9/2016 May, 2016 by Melanie Curry-Irons
It’s been 23 years since I traveled through Russia, and yet watching Leviathan, a satirical Russian drama set in the present day, it looks like little has changed. An ambitious and audacious work by Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev, Leviathan stunned critics at its 2014 Cannes Film Festival premiere where Zvyagintsev and his co-screenwriter Oleg Negin won the award for Best Screenplay. It’s a stunning film, and my first highlight of the week.

Leviathan … Wednesday 11th May, 8.30pm

Nominated for best foreign language film at the Oscars and the winner of the same category at the Golden Globes, Leviathan was applauded for the way it deals with social issues in contemporary Russia – although not by the officials who helped pay for it!

Inspired by The Book of Job and the work of Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan is a vodka drenched exploration of love, faith, corruption, violence, freedom and economic decay. It’s the story of married couple Kolya (Aleksey Serebryakov) and Lilya (Elena Lyadova), and their son Romka (Sergey Pokhodaev), who are forced out of their ancestral family home on the whim of the Mayor who wishes to develop their prime site for himself. Shot in Teriberka on the Barents Sea coast in northwest Russia, the Russian Ministry of Culture apparently stumped up 35% of the film’s budget. 

Needless to say they weren’t terribly happy with Director Andrei Zvyagintsev’s brazen and derogatory take on Russia’s bureaucracy, the Russian Orthodox Church, or the average Russian’s daily consumption of vodka. Initial attempts to ban the film were scrapped after it’s Oscar nomination, and while the Russians may not like it, Leviathan is a remarkable and engaging satire.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 5/2/2016 May, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Goodness gracious there’s a lot going on this month. The Festival de Cannes kicks off in just over a week and Rialto Channel is celebrating. Every night throughout May, Rialto Channel screens critically acclaimed feature films and documentaries that have screened in competition at Cannes recently, such as Oscar nominated films Mr. Turner, Timbuktu and Leviathan to name a few. Join me for Wednesday evening’s Rialto Presenters series when I introduce an eclectic collection of films from around the world that made a name for themselves at the Cannes Film Festival, including the beautiful The Assassin and this week’s cult horror hit It Follows.

Here are my highlights for the week. 

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