People who run cinemas - and presumably, by extension, the folks who organise the film festival - hate fine weather. I've heard them complain early in the week after a scorching weekend in which we all lingered at the bach or barbecue that the weather was "bloody awful all weekend".

It's bloody awful for them of course because no one goes to the pictures on a nice day. So the break in the recent run of cold, squally, crappy weather couldn't have come at a worse time for the film festival.

For me it seems odd, too. I'm used to equipping myself for a Sunday as though I were packing for the Tongariro crossing: scarf, raincoat, warm socks, umbrella. I still have on my office wall Gerad Taylor's wonderful poster for the 1994 festival in which one of the Civic's gilded elephants is swinging, Gene Kelly-style, around a lamppost and singing in the rain. (The irony was that 1994 was the really dry winter in which we were being urged to shower together to save water for summer; of course, the drought broke in the spring).

All this is by way of saying that I hope the nice weekend forecast won't keep you away from the festival. Nice weekends are two a penny in Auckland, but the festival comes just once a year.

The big event today has to be the screening of Mana Waka, assembled by Merata Mita from footage shot by R.G.H "Jim" Manley, of a canoe-building project carried out under the aegis of Princess Te Puea Herangi in the late 1930s and completed for the country's centennial in 1940. (See my 1989 interview with Mita here.)

It is rare to get the chance to see our cinematic patrimony on a big screen and Mana Waka hasn't been shown publicly since January 1990. It will be a special and powerful event.

(A small plug here for the Film Archive whose founding director, the late and much-missed Jonathan Dennis, was instrumental in the preservation of so much of our filmed history. I say above that it is rare to get the chance to see our cinematic patrimony on a big screen but at the archive you can see it on the small screen easily and all the time. Its small Auckland branch has heaps of stuff on hand from Smash Palace to It's in the Bag and if they have to get it up from Wellington, they only charge you a few bucks. It's a facility few know about and fewer still use. Get into it.)

My doco pick for the day is Bobby Fischer Against the World, a title with at least three levels of meaning that I can detect. I was at university when Fischer took on Spassky for the world chess crown in Iceland. I didn't have a television and seldom saw the papers, but it was still impossible to be unaware that something seismic was going down on the other side of the world.

This straightforward but absolutely gripping documentary anatomises it in minute detail as part of a comprehensive portrait of the tormented genius, his life and times. At this distance, it is hard to understand how the events in Iceland displaced the Vietnam War peace talks in Paris and Watergate at the top of TV network new bulletins in the US, but the film makes plain that the strange events in Reykjavik were a proxy for the Cold War.

Main Event: The first screening of Terence Malick's new film The Tree of Life is at the Civic at 8.45pm. Who knows how good it will be, but it will surely be an amazing experience.