Characters from the fringe at festival launch

Dunedin Fringe Festival event assistant Lena Plaksina (left), festival club MC Tahu Mackenzie and festival director Paul Smith keep the atmosphere film noir during the launch of the 2014 Dunedin Fringe Festival event guide, at Carousel Bar, in Dunedin, last night. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dunedin Fringe Festival event assistant Lena Plaksina (left), festival club MC Tahu Mackenzie and festival director Paul Smith keep the atmosphere film noir during the launch of the 2014 Dunedin Fringe Festival event guide, at Carousel Bar, in Dunedin, last night. Photo by Linda Robertson.

It's not often you find yourself surrounded by gangsters dressed in expensive pinstripe suits and femmes fatale with a glass of wine in one hand, and a revolver in the other.

But when you attend the launch of the 2014 Dunedin Fringe Festival's event guide, these things are to be expected.

Fortunately, the revolvers were plastic and it was all part of the elaborate film noir-themed reveal at Carousel Bar last night.

Festival director Paul Smith and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull unlocked the event guides from a chained glass box in front of artists, funders, sponsors and festival supporters.

Mr Smith said he was excited to share this year's fantastic programme of ''extraordinary artistic work'', which included groups and artists such as Richard Hanna, Deborah Eve Rea, James Nokise, Andrew Clay, Shani Dickins and the girls from In Flagrante.

The Dunedin Fringe Festival runs from March 13-23, and will feature 50 events by more than 200 artists from New Zealand and overseas.

Mr Smith said there were also several events in this year's guide which were new to the festival.

A Festival Gala will be held in the Dunedin Town Hall on March 12, which will give ''tasters'' of the best and most exciting acts on offer during the Festival.

A caravan has also been acquired by the festival and has been turned into one of the smallest mobile cinemas in the world, he said.

''It will go to random suburbs around the city, like Mr Whippy, and show some amazing short films.

''It will be at totally random times and places to engage people who wouldn't normally come to the Fringe Festival.''

For the first time in the festival's 11-year history, Mr Smith said online tickets would be discounted in a bid to encourage advance sales.

''There are no restrictions on who can buy discounted tickets or how many each person can buy. Dunedin is well known for being slow to book for shows, and we want to turn that around by providing a strong incentive for people to get organised,'' he said.

Mr Cull echoed the plea.

''Don't intend to attend. Plan to attend, because this will only be maintained with your support.''

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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