Calling movie lovers - Inaugural British and Irish Film Festival showing in Whitianga this October
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Calling movie lovers - Inaugural British and Irish Film Festival showing in Whitianga this October

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Calling movie lovers - Inaugural British and Irish Film Festival showing in Whitianga this October

After the huge success of the French Film Festival in June 2023, the Mercury Twin Cinemas team are delighted to announce that the 2023 British & Irish Film Festival will screen in Whitianga from 19 October - 1 November. The first eleven film titles have been announced and include iconic acting talents including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Michael Caine, Dame Helen Mirren and Olivia Colman. Read more on how to get tickets and view the first of the festival movie trailers. 

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For two weeks Whitianga will be showcasing cinematic icons with an incredible selection of British & Irish films. This new festival comes off the back of the biggest French Film Festival which was held earlier this year. Festival organisers anticipate that by bringing cinema goes a taste of the British and a flavour of the Irish that this festival is set to be one of New Zealand’s most sought-after film festivals this year.

We were thrilled when Whitianga audiences embraced the French Film Festival wholeheartedly earlier in the year, so we are excited to be able to bring them the best of British and Irish in this new film festival.

Anne-Maree McDougall - Owner Mercury Twin Cinemas

Quality Titles and Stars for British & Irish film festival

The festival has secured its first eleven films and they will not disappoint. 

Given the success of how many satisfied cinema goers attended the French, we felt we could do the British & Irish justice by selecting a wide range of quality titles featuring all the sirs and dames including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dame Helen Mirren & Sir Michael Caine in this year's line-up.

Fergus Grady - British & Irish Film Festival Director

Kicking things off on opening night after its world premiere in the Toronto film festival will be Sir Anthony Hopkins in ‘One Life’. The film follows British humanitarian Nicholas Winton played by Sir Anthony, who helped save hundreds of children from the Nazis on the eve of World War II.

The festival will also present ‘The Great Escaper’ as the Centrepiece film where Sir Michael Caine plays Bernard Jordan, a vet who escapes from his care home to attend the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in France. This will be a special presentation as the festival celebrates the life of Glenda Jackson who passed away after production and The Great Escaper will be her last film. The other centrepiece presentation, ‘Wicked Little Letters’, is a 1920’s set mystery comedy featuring Oscar award winning actress Olivia Colman who gets caught up in a scandalous and obscene letter fiasco sweeping Littlehampton. 

Straight from the red carpet in Cannes, ‘The Old Oak’ is Ken Loachs latest film which is set in one of the last remaining pubs in Northeast England. The festival will also feature ‘Golda’ Starring Dame Helen Mirren as the ‘Iron Lady of Israel' who faced intensely dramatic and high-stake decisions during the Yom Kippur War.

Three brand new documentaries will have their New Zealand premieres in the festival and focus on the lives of Jackie Stewart in ‘Stewart’, Noel Coward in ‘Mad About the Boy’, and famous English artist Eric Ravilious in ‘Drawn to War’.

First Eleven films announced for festival

We share the first eleven titles that have been confirmed in the festival below. But cinema goers will have to wait until September 21st for a full list of film titles that will be announced as tickets are made available for sale. 

One Life

Follows British humanitarian Nicholas Winton, who helped save hundreds of children from the Nazis on the eve of World War II.

The Great Escaper

Bernard Jordan escapes from his care home to attend the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in France.


Focuses on the intensely dramatic and high-stakes responsibilities and decisions that Golda Meir, also known as the 'Iron Lady of Israel' faced during the Yom Kippur War.

Greatest Days

A feature adaptation of the 'The Band' musical, featuring the songs of Take That.

Wicked Little Letters

When people in Littlehampton start receiving scandalous and obscene letters, suspicion immediately falls on fiery Rose, who might lose the custody of her daughter. A group of women set out to solve the mystery.

The Old Oak

The future for the last remaining pub, The Old Oak in a village of the Northeast England, where people are leaving the land as the mines are closing.

Dance First

Many parts of the literary Samuel Beckett giant's life: Parisian bon vivant, World War II Resistance fighter, Nobel Prize-winning playwright, philandering husband and recluse.

Land of Saints & Sinners

In a remote Irish village, a damaged Finbar is forced to fight for redemption after a lifetime of sins, but what price is he willing to pay? In the land of saints and sinners, some sins can't be buried

Mad About the Boy: Noel Coward

An exploration of Coward's expansive career which features credits across the stage and screen, including Brief Encounter, Blithe Spirit, and Private Lives.

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War

First full-length feature documentary about the artist Eric Ravilious, told in his own words through previously unseen private correspondence.


Stewart follows Scottish racing driver Jackie Stewart on an immersive, colourful, and emotive journey that transcends motor sport and explores universal themes of love, loss, and human vulnerability.

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