Bill Gosden, Longtime New Zealand International Film Festival Director, Dies at 66

Bill Gosden
Courtesy of Rebecca McMillan

Bill Gosden

He presided over the event for nearly four decades until his retirement last year.

Bill Gosden, who served as director of the New Zealand International Film Festival for nearly 40 years, died Friday after a battle with bowel cancer. He was 66.

Gosden joined the festival in 1981 and retired last year because of ill health. "I'm afraid I've entered the cancer world," he said in March 2019. "And I could see that I was not going to be up to continuing to do the job, sadly. In an ideal world, I would have kept doing the job for at least another five years, but that's not to be."

A onetime film critic in high school who was a big fan of Robert Altman movies, Gosden scored the world premiere for Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994), set in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the festival. He also was a champion of countryman and filmmaker Taika Waititi.

"Bill lived and breathed film from his earliest years, working tirelessly to create a demand from New Zealand audiences for the highest quality films from around the world," New Zealand Film Festival Trust chair Catherine Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Added current festival director Marten Rabarts: "The film festival and film community in New Zealand owes Bill a huge debt of gratitude for the decades of work and passion he committed to develop and champion a world-class festival experience for audiences and filmmakers alike."