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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Francesca’s Picks for the Week 15th December

Posted on Monday 12/15/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Throughout December, Rialto World is celebrating French cinema by serving up a double feature every Monday evening. This week, enjoy Pascal Bonitzer’s (Va Savoir, Encore) dramedy Looking for Hortense followed by the drama All Our Desires directed by Philippe Lioret. Next week, keep an eye out for Michel Gondry’s wonderfully whimsical Mood Indigo.

Here are my picks for the week;

Gardening With Soul
Directed by: Jess Feast
Screening: Rialto Documentary, Thursday 18th December, 8.30pm 

Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2013 Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards, Gardening with Soul is a heartwarming and amusing documentary that follows 90-year-old Sister Loyola Galvin for a year as she works in the garden she oversees at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, Wellington. As well as sharing advice on composting and gardening, Sister Loyola Galvin, who has dedicated herself to helping others, also shares her refreshingly simple observations on spirituality, parenting, aging and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. She’s quite a lady, and her belief that we should live our lives with compassion and love, and treasure our children, is a quiet reminder to us all. 

Looking for Hortense  (2013)

Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Kristin Scott Thomas & Isabelle Carré
Directed by: Pascal Bonitzer
Screening: Rialto World, Monday 15th December, 8.30pm

A gentle comedy from the prolific French screenwriter and director Pascal Bonitzer, Looking for Hortense stars Jean-Pierre Bacri and Kristin Scott Thomas star as two long-term lovers at a cross road in their relationship and lives. Bonitzer’s drama-comedy, is a pleasant but largely underwhelming film about the separation of a middle aged couple. The script, written with co-writer Agnès de Sacy, is well crafted and for the most part authentic, and as usual its hard to take your eyes off Kristen Scott Thomas, who does her best to make chain-smoking look cool. Unfortunately though, fans of Scott Thomas will be disappointed to learn her character Iva isn’t the main character, rather the film focuses on the unraveling of her long-term partner Damien Hauer (Bacri). This might not be the most original relationship drama, but the acting is superb and Paris looks divine. 

Greetings From Tim Buckley
Starring: Penn Badgley & Imogen Poots
Directed by: Dan Algrant
Screening: Rialto Selection, Saturday 20th December, 8.30pm 

Singer songwriter Tim Buckley died of a heroine overdose at the age of 28. His estranged son Jeff Buckley, also a promising and talented musician, drowned while swimming in the Mississippi River at the age of 30. In this film, director and co-writer Dan Algrant attempts to bring the two artists together through their music, as Jeff Buckley prepares to perform live for the first time, at a tribute concert to his father. Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl fame is surprisingly good as Jeff Buckley, so to is Ben Rosenfield as a young Tim Buckley. This is not your normal straightforward biography. Instead Algrant’s film meanders along, hinting and gesturing at the affect father and son had on each other. There is also plenty of music from both Buckley’s that will please fans of the artists.


Posted on Thursday 12/11/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

For the third year running Ant Timpson and Hugh Sundae are bringing the New Zealand film industry together to celebrate the diverse collection of local films released in the last year.

On Friday, 12th December, over 700 industry types will fill Shed 10 on Auckland’s waterfront; some will stagger into their taxi with a prestigious Moa award in their hand and applause ringing in their ears. There are 29 categories at the Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards this year, covering feature films, short film and documentaries. The competition is tough; there are no sure bets ... OK, maybe one or two.  

I gave awards producer Ant Timpson (whose film Housebound has received 11 nominations) a quick call to talk about what the awards team has in store for us this year.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 8th December

Posted on Monday 12/8/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

New Zealand Film Month continues on Rialto Channel this week with the incredibly beautiful and fascinating documentary, Antarctica:A Year On Ice. This award winning documentary was filmed over 15 years and gives you a close-up and personal look at what it’s like for those who chose to spend 12 months on the ice. It also presents us with some stunning scenery and wildlife. This is a film the whole family can enjoy and is my first pick of the week.

Here are my picks for the week;

Interview with Michelle Joy Lloyd for Sunday.

Posted on Friday 12/5/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Sunday is the directorial feature film from New Zealand filmmaker and digital producer Michelle Joy Lloyd. A romantic drama telling the story of an estranged couple who reunite for 24 hours to see if they can sort out their relationship, Sunday is set in Christchurch one year after the devastating earthquakes.

New Zealand born, Australian based actress Camille Keenan and Aussie Dustin Clare, who co-wrote the screenplay, star in what is a naturalistic and honest portrayal of a couple at a turning point. An independent and fully self-funded film, Michelle Joy Lloyd and her team decided to release the film across different mediums at the same time - television, DVD, cinema, online and on airlines. It’s a first for a feature film, and I recently caught up with Michelle, who explained the reasoning behind the approach. 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 1st December

Posted on Monday 12/1/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Throughout December, Rialto Channel is celebrating New Zealand film by screening a collection of award winning and nominated feature films and documentaries. You’ll be stunned by the incredible images in Antarctica: A Year on Ice, be moved by Gardening with Soul, and amused by The Deadly Ponies Gang. On Wednesday’s New Wave series, you’ll be able to catch the hypnotic feature The Weight of Elephants, as well as Sophie Henderson’s stunning screen-writing debut, Fantail. This week however, you can enjoy the offbeat, ambitious, and unique Kiwi take on a Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet: A Love Story.

Here are my picks for the week;

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 24th November

Posted on Monday 11/24/2014 November, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Jim Jarmusch’s meditative and moody offbeat vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It was a fitting place for the American director to unleash his latest film; he’s been a festival favourite for years. Nominated for the Palm d’Or six times, Jarmsch has won the Grand Jury Prize as well as a variety of other awards over the years. Only Lovers Left Alive screened in competition, and since then has been wooing festival audiences around the world. It’s my first pick of the week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 17th November

Posted on Monday 11/17/2014 November, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

During WWII, the highest percentage of Jews destroyed anywhere in the world — including Poland — was in Macedonia, and in 2011, a world-class museum in Skopje was opened to remember the near-extinction of Macedonian Jews in the Holocaust. The museum features briefly in The Third Half, a warm and moving historical tale of love, football, historical and cultural burdens and one Jewish woman’s survival thanks to her marriage to an Orthodox Christian. The film is inspired by the true story of Neta Koen who recorded her Holocaust experience for the Shoah Visual History Foundation at University of California, a library of survivor’s stories set up by director Steven Spielberg, and adapted for the big screen by script writers Darko Mitrevski and Grgur Strujic. The Third Half is my first pick this week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 10th November

Posted on Monday 11/10/2014 November, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

This month, Rialto Documentary offers up a series of films that closely examine the legal complications and ramifications that Internet users and abusers regular face. Catch Downloaded, a film about the rise and fall of Napster, and We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists about the workings and beliefs of the self-described "hacktivist" collective, Anonymous. This week, you can find out exactly what you’re signing up to every time you hit that ‘Accept’ button in the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply.

Here are my picks for the week.

The best indie films and documentaries on TV this week.

Posted on Monday 11/3/2014 November, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

The Red Road
 premiered on the US Sundance TV (formerly known as Sundance Channel) in February this year. It’s the second original drama created by the channel following on from the critically acclaimed series Rectify that also screened on Rialto Channel. The Red Road stars Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa and our very own Martin Henderson and this compelling and atmospheric series is my first pick for the week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 27th October

Posted on Friday 10/24/2014 October, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

It’s hard to believe that November is here, but it is, and with it comes a whole new selection of films and television series to choose from. Rialto Documentary presents a month of cyber stories, documentaries that closely examine the complications and consequences of being online. Sundance Channel’s brand new television series The Red Road, staring Martin Henderson and Game of Thrones Jason Momoa, kicks off on Tuesday evenings. And Ant Timpson’s Rialto Incredible Strange series continues to challenge and disturb us on Friday evenings.


Here are my picks for the week:

The Queen of Versailles

Starring: David & Jackie Siegel
Directed by: Lauren Greenfield
Screening: Rialto Documentary, Thursday 30th October, 8.30pm 

Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield hit the jackpot when she got permission from resort time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife, former beauty queen Jackie Siegel, to follow construction of their 90,000-square-foot mega-mansion, known as Versailles. David, his blond bombshell wife and eight kids, and their extravagant lifestyle, make for compelling viewing. An interesting twist is provided by the global financial crisis, which Greenfield couldn’t have predicted when she began shooting in 2007. When the real estate market collapsed the Siegel’s time-share empire crumbled, and the construction of Versailles was halted. What happened next was a “riches to rags story” as Greenfield discovered her film wasn’t so much an exploration of the relationship between the American dream and owning a house, as an allegory about the over-reaching of America - albeit at the top end of the scale! 

Breathe In 

Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones
Screening: Rialto Selection, Saturday 1st November, 8.30pm 

Director Drake Doremus re-unites with his Like Crazy actress Felicity Jones in this low-key, but engaging family drama. Like his previous films Douchebag and Like Crazy, Breathe In screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The film tells the story of a Keith (Pearce), a teacher whose music career was cut short by the arrival of a baby 17 years earlier. Living in upstate New York, Keith’s life is thrown into disarray when a disarmingly talented pianist Sophie (Jones), a British exchange student, comes to live with them for a semester. Just like they did for Like Crazy, Doremus and his co-screenwriter Ben York Jones wrote outlines for each scene, allowing the actors to come up with the dialogue through weeks of rehearsals. Even though there’s a dreamy aspect to the cinematography, the narrative flows naturally and is entirely plausible. It’s not quite as captivating as Like Crazy, but the nuanced performances are worthy of a look. 

The Comedy 

Starring: Rick Alverson
Directed by: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim & James Murphy
Screening: Rialto Incredibly Strange, Friday 31st October, 8.30pm 

If you can get past the opening sequence where a bunch of half naked, paunchy, drunk guys in their mid-thirties dance around a living room in slow motion spitting their drinks at each other, then there’s a small chance you ‘ll get through this experimental comedy written by Rick Alverson, and staring comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Heidecker plays Swanson, an aging hipster who lives on a boat and is waiting for his wealthy father to die. Possibly one of the most unlikeable characters you’ll see on screen, Swanson spends his days pushing the limits of acceptable behavior, offending and abusing as many people as he can, and in the process, challenging the audience to see just how much of this loathsome character we can endure. Shot in a naturalistic, documentary style, The Comedy is a dark and excruciating comedy about modern day malaise that will conjure up a variety of emotions in you. Just as Swanson tries to get a reaction from those he offends around him, The Comedy works very hard to get a reaction from us. The fact this film got a steady walk out rate at it’s first Sundance Film Festival screening means it’s probably succeeded.

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