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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Interview with Adrian Hailwood

Posted on Thursday 1/28/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

There’s been a rise in popularity of the fashion documentary, largely thanks to the fashion industry opening up and letting the public in. And they have loved it. The September Issue, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Must Travel and Valentino: The Last Emperor are just a few of the critically acclaimed documentaries we’ve enjoyed over the last decade. 

In February, New Zealand fashion designer Adrian Hailwood presents Fashion Film Month, The Spirit of Avant Garde, on Rialto Channel. The series features Iris (2014), Dior and I (2014), Advanced Style [2014] and Women He’s Undressed (2015). It’s an impressive collection of beautifully crafted and fascinating stories, and it marks Hailwood’s television debut, an experience he found quite amusing.  

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Thursday 1/28/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

During February, Friday nights are home to a collection of critically acclaimed small budget American indie films worth checking out. Catch two of filmmaker Sean Baker’s award winning feature films: Starlet (2012) as well as the impressive Tangerine (2015), and the charming directorial debut from Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour). It’s a great series of films you won’t get to see anywhere else, so enjoy.

Here are my highlights for the week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 1/25/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

It’s a challenging time of the year, what with having to remember to write 2016, and desperately trying to hold onto that relaxed, holiday attitude you made a resolution to maintain until at least March. Add to this summery evenings, and it’s easy to forget the time and miss films you’d meant to see. To make life a little easier, Wednesday evening is now encore night, offering you the chance to catch the film that screened on the previous Saturday evening in Rialto Channel’s Official Selection.

So if you missed Escobar: Paradise Lost on Saturday, then don’t panic – catch it on Wednesday at 8.30pm.   

Here are a few highlights for the week: 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 1/18/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

This month Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton star in the Rialto Channel Film Star Face Off. Every Friday night a Moore film will face off against a Swinton film, giving you the chance to admire and respect the work of these fine actresses. Swinton and Moore have been involved with an astounding list of exceptional mainstream and indie films over the years. While Moore made a name for herself on an American television soap opera, it was Swinton’s early collaboration with British iconoclast Derek Jarman (Caravaggio) that turned her into an international art house icon, and yet throughout their careers both have made brave choices by selecting complex, real characters to portray. It seems almost disrespectful to pit these veterans up against each other, but it does mean we get the opportunity to watch some of their best work from over the past couple of decades. This week Moore’s The Kids Are Alright is up against Swinton’s Stephanie Daley and in anticipation, here’s a brief profile on these remarkable actresses. 

Name: Katherine Mathilda Swinton
Age: 55
Provenance: London, England, then Scotland.
Training Ground: Edinburgh's renowned Traverse Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Defining Moments: Most of her films, and sleeping for a week inside a glass box in the Serpentine Gallery
Oscar: Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton.
Next Up: Coen Brother’s Hail, Caesar! and Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange
Quote: Why cinema is good for the soul: ‘What it is for me is this amazingly humane opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of somebody else. It’s no more complicated and no less powerful than that.’

Julie Anne Smith
Age: 55
Provenance: Fayetteville, North Carolina,
Training Ground: Franny Hughes (and sometimes her twin sister) on As the World Turns soap opera.
Defining Moment: Delivering a monologue to her screen husband, Matthew Modine, while naked from the waist down in Robert Altman’s film Short Cuts.
Oscar: Best Actress for Still Alice (her fifth nomination)
Next Up: George Clooney’s Suburbicon (written by the Coen Brothers)
Quote: ‘The audience doesn't come to see you, they come to see themselves.’ 

Here are a few highlights for the week: 

In Order of Disappearance (Kraftioten)
… Monday 18th January, 8.30pm
Stellan Skarsgård stars in this black comedy about a simple snowplough-driver who takes on one of Norway’s most notorious crime bosses. Just after he’s named Citizen of the Year for his services to the community, Nils Dickman’s son is killed by a drugs cartel – a case of mistaken identity. Dickman, a nice, quiet member of the society, responds in a rather unexpected way – he goes on a killing spree. Taking out one by one anyone that had anything to do with his son’s murderer, his vigilante routine accidentally starts a war between the two drug cartels in the neighbourhood, the vegan gangster The Count and the Serbian mafia boss known as Papa. The result is a film filled with cold blooded and brutal violence, but the there’s just enough dry humour here to also put a smile on your face – think Fargo meets Quentin Tarantino. Directed by Hans Petter Moland, In Order of Disappearance was released in 2014 and spent the year on the Festival circuit – most likely one of the lighter films on the scheduled. However, not only is it enjoyable watching Stellan Skarsgård in fine form, but the scenery is beautiful and lovers of Scandinavian light wood styled interiors will find plenty to admire here. 

The Kids Are All Right
… Friday 22nd January, 8.30pm
Nominated for four Oscars at the 2011 Academy Awards, The Kids Are All Right stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple who are taken by surprise when their teenage kids, conceived via artificial insemination, seek out their biological father, played by Mark Ruffalo. Written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right is a warm, witty and accessible indie feature film that examines the postmodern family. The Kids Are All Right reminds us that all families and marriages are flawed and complicated, regardless of the dynamics or make up. The critics loved the smart script and pitch perfect performances and considering this dramedy was made for just US$4.5 million and grossed just under US$35 million at the box office, it would be fair to say it was a commercial success as well.   

Escobar: Paradise Lost
… Saturday 23rd January, 8.30pm
Escobar: Paradise Lost is the directorial debut from writer director Andrea Di Stefano, and stars Benicio Del Toro as the infamous drugs overlord and politician Pablo Escobar. Tel Toro is absolutely fantastic as the manipulative and quietly dangerous leader; one minute playing in the pool with his kids and the next hanging people up by their feet and setting them alight. It’s surely one of the best performances of 2015, but regrettably, Escobar is almost like a supporting player in his own biography with Andrea Di Stefano choosing to tell his story from the point of view of Nick, a Canadian surfer played by a wooden and guileless Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games). Nick arrives in Columbia with his brother and friends with the intention of living by the beach and teaching surfing. Nick meets and falls in love with a local girl called Maria, who just happens to be Escobar’s niece, and it’s not long before Nick is welcomed into the kingpin’s family. The film takes place in the lead up to Escobar’s negotiated surrender to authorities in 1991 – and this gives us a much needed tension filled thriller like ending. It’s a solid debut from Di Stefano, but it’s Benicio Del Toro that makes this film.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 1/11/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin

Well, here we go again! Another year has arrived and this January Rialto Channel has another superb lineup of films ready to go, including a series of political documentaries profiling an eclectic collection of politicians such as Pras Michel of the Fugees, and American Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Series 2 of the haunting French television series The Returned continues, and Rialto Selection premieres some stunning feature films such as Escobar: Paradise Lost staring Benicio Del Toro, and Lullaby staring Richard Jenkins and Amy Adams. Don’t forget the Rialto Channel Film Star Face Off continues, this month featuring Julianne Moore vs. Tilda Swinton. 

Here are a few of my highlights for the week: 

Ariel Kleiman Interview for Partisan

Posted on Friday 1/8/2016 January, 2016 by Francesca Rudkin


Partisan is the debut feature film from talented Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman. It’s a mesmerising, dark and twisted story centered on child assassin Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel), who lives in an isolated commune run by his father, the charismatic Gregori (played by French actor Vincent Cassel).

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema - Drama Best Cinematography Award, and has gone on to screen at festivals around the world, including our own NZIFF. By the end of 2015, Partisan was getting honorary mentions on Best of the Year lists, and Kleiman is now regarded internationally as a director to watch.

Partisan screens on Rialto Channel on Saturday 9th January, 8.30pm and recently I had the pleasure of talking to the delightful Kleiman about the making ofPartisan, and the joy of working with children.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 12/21/2015 December, 2015 by Francesca Rudkin

It’s hard to believe another year is almost over. Well done - you’ve almost made it! I love this time of year. Like everyone else it’s about family, holidays and long summer days – three of my favourite things. However, unlike most people that like to get as far away from their work as possible, I just can’t stop myself watching movies. There’s nothing better than a day at the beach, dinner around the outside table, a game of family cricket or cards, and then ending the day with a good movie.

And on Rialto Channel there’s plenty to choose from.

In January Tilda Swinton and Julianne Moore take over from Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender in Rialto Channel’s Film Star Face Off. Rialto Worldembraces Scandinavian cinema and the theme of Rialto Documentary is politics. The French television series The Returned continues on Tuesdayevenings, and Saturday’s Rialto Selection continues to screen an impressive lineup of films, from Half a Yellow Sun (Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor) to Escobar: Paradise Lost (Benicio Del Toro)

So put your feet up and relax. You’ve earned it. Have a wonderful Christmas, and all the best wishes for the New Year.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 12/14/2015 December, 2015 by

Last week I mentioned Michael Fassbender was back on the Oscar’s radar for his performance as Steve Jobs in the film, creatively titled, Steve Jobs. This week, an Oscar nod became even more of a possibility with the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations. Nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Fassbender’s Steve Jobs’ Oscar campaign will now be in full swing. This weekhowever, you can catch the critically acclaimed actor in my first pick of the week, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.


Francesca’s Picks for the Week

Posted on Monday 12/7/2015 December, 2015 by

Normally each year I start talking about the Oscars in September when the Toronto International Film Festival takes place – it does after all represent the unofficial launch of the award’s campaign season. However this year I’ve been restrained, mostly due to the fact that the front runners (Carol, Joy, The Revenant, Spotlight etc) don’t start hitting our shores until about now. As we launch into week two of our Film Star Face Off, I began contemplating the chances of Ryan Gosling or Michael Fassbender scoring an Oscar nod in 2016. Gosling, has had a quiet year with the release of one film The Big Short, but Fassbender has continued to churn out impressive performances in Macbeth and the upcoming Steve Jobs. The odds are on Fassbender getting a nomination for his role as the entrepreneur, but on Rialto Channel this week you can enjoy one of his early performances in the stunning British film Fish Tank 

The best indie films and documentaries on TV this week.

Posted on Monday 11/30/2015 November, 2015 by Francesca Rudkin

This week one of my favourite series of the year kicks off – the Film Star Face Off starring Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling. Every Friday night a Fassbender film will face off against a Gosling film, giving you the chance to admire and respect the work of these fine actors. Friday nights don’t get much better than this! Here are my picks for the week.

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