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For the first time, the festival will be screened with the latest digital projectors, rather than traditional industry-standard 35mm film units.
"It's a new technology that's been coming like a tsunami and New Zealand has been a bit behind the eight-ball in this way," New Zealand International Film Festival director Bill Gosden said this week.
"It would have been a very short film festival in Dunedin this year without this technology. Last year, just about all the films arrived on 35mm format but, this year, every film, except three, was sent to us as a DCP [digital cinema package] file on a hard-drive. It saves distributors vast amounts of money in film prints," Mr Gosden explained.
"They come on a hard-drive. Some of them come in elaborate cases, like gold bars, and others come on $25 hard drives from The Warehouse."
The digital cinema package combines a digital projector with a 6TB hard-drive and was made possible through a sponsorship agreement between the festival and two companies.
"There are a couple in commercial cinemas, at Hoyts and Rialto, in Dunedin, but this is the first time we've used one in the film festival," Mr Gosden said.
Regent Theatre technical manager Nelson Miles said the equipment arrived on three pallets and took two days to install.
"It's no different to watch than the old 35mm. It just has better clarity, because you don't get the flicker of film," he said.
"It's good for the industry, because piracy was rife and you can't copy these."
Regent Theatre general manager Sarah Anderson said the theatre was trying to raise $160,000 to buy a DCP.
"They are the future for film, and while we have earmarked some of the funds from the book sale for this project, we are in need of a film-loving philanthropist to donate, so we are able to meet the funding target. We could even name the projector after them."
The 2012 New Zealand International Film Festival runs from July 26 to August 19.