OPINION: It's been said many times - the TSB Bowl of Brooklands is the best outdoor venue in the country.
Sunday night's Tropfest NZ event provided ample evidence of that and the Bowl was at its sun-drenched best as a crowd of 8000 watched 16 seven-minute films in the inaugural Kiwi festival (the year before had featured purely Australian efforts at the Bowl).
The quality of the 16 finalists showed through. Good ideas abounded, with several quirky takes on the specified item - a gumboot. Every film had to feature a gumboot, which resulted in Kiwi ingenuity at its creative best.
How fitting it was that a Taranaki entrant was the overall winner. New Plymouth team Touching Cloth and director Dave Smith took the award for best film for their musical Cappuccino Tango - a "coffee love story" shot at Ozone Coffee Roasters in New Plymouth.
While congratulations go to them, dare we suggest that the real winner on the night was the Bowl itself. Along with its conjoined twin, Pukekura Park, there are few Taranaki-ites who do not see them as the often-described "Jewel in the Crown" for the New Plymouth District.
The many volunteers whose efforts have made the parks into the natural wonderlands they are today would have been delighted at Sunday night's turnout, with literally hundreds of families spread out with their picnics, soaking up the atmosphere and the films.
In truth, the one ingredient needed to bring out the best of the Bowl, and the park, is people. The TSB Festival of Lights ensured many thousands of visitors over the last month. On Sunday night 8000 people came and stayed for hours, lifting the Bowl to another level.
Tropfest, with its creativity and arts influence, was the perfect conduit to complete the transformation. Much has been written and said in recent years about the lack of top international acts to perform there, which made Tropfest NZ's decision to hold the event at the Bowl again next year even more welcome.
Perhaps it is also worth acknowledging the wisdom of those who agreed to host Womad here on an annual basis. For more than three days the Bowl and the park are transformed into one of the largest, most diverse event venues in the world.
Despite some predicting that would detract from the economic viability of the event, quite the opposite has transpired and it continues to flourish. Best of all, it is only six weeks away.
If the days of the big names appearing at the Bowl are limited, there are still plenty of home-grown events which can ensure our Bowl of Brooklands continues to captivate new generations.
The last words belong to Tropfest creator John Polson, who opened the show by saying how pleased he was to have it at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands.
"It's the most beautiful [venue] that Tropfest plays in anywhere in the world. It's unbelievable. I could not be more excited about such a wonderful place to play these wonderful films."
Amen to that.
- Taranaki Daily News
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