Tom Augustine is seeing 40 films at this year's festival. Here's how he plans on going the distance.

PLAN YOUR FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE

You're truly spoiled for choice at this year's festival, from some of the most fascinating gems to come out of Cannes to the premieres of some eclectic and wonderful New Zealand films, to the classics being revived - some on 35mm film stock, others with a full orchestra. One of the best approaches is to plan meticulously. Get your hands on a programme or go to the website and structure your festival fortnight using a spreadsheet or calendar. Find the film you're dying to see and use it as your anchor to build the rest of your schedule from. This year, mine is the closing-night screening of Pawel Pawlikowski's Cold War.

BE SMART ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE PUTTING IN YOUR BODY

I get it - it's the movies. You want to stuff your face full of popcorn, icecream, lollies and the usual multiplex fare. But this isn't your average film experience. If you're undertaking a multi-day movie marathon, you have to keep an eye out for what's going to keep you from passing out from sheer exhaustion. Number one: drink a lot of water. That will keep you hydrated and help you avoid pesky headaches from extended periods of screen time. Stock up on good snacks and make sure you carve out windows where you can chow down between screenings.

UBERS AND TAXIS ARE YOUR FRIEND

Many's the time I've thought, "Well, the ASB Waterfront Theatre and The Civic aren't too far from each other." Then I've missed the beginning of my film and barge into a darkened theatre - sweaty from sprinting to reach the venue. If you're ever in doubt about whether you'll make your screening in time and you have the means - and the parking fee - take a car.

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If you're going to drive, plan where you're going to park and try not to park too far away.

HAVE A REST MOVIE

If you're a completest like me, you want to have the fullest experience possible with every film you see. Sleep is the enemy for a film festival-goer - especially if you've had several films in a day and that starry Civic ceiling has begun to whirl a little. That's why sometimes it's good to have a low-stakes film that you're not going to kick yourself too much for having a little snooze at. This year, I'll be seeing The Ancient Woods, a documentary about trees and owls and nature and what-not. If I happen to drift off a little, well, that's not so bad. As film-maker Lucrecia Martel said: "Falling asleep in the cinema is not about boredom but a feeling of comfort, as when sun is shining on you and you feel warm."

HAVE AN AWESOME TIME, BUT BE COOL

The festival is a way to celebrate the best the world has to offer in this art form, and it has a lot of patrons who take the whole thing very seriously. It's a way to broaden your horizons and experience new and challenging cinema, but just remember that there are other people trying to do the same. That means the usual rules for cinema-going apply: don't talk. No one around you needs to hear your thoughts on First Reformed before the credits roll. Definitely don't use your cellphone because, come on, if you use your cellphone you're the worst. And be respectful of other people and their space, especially in some of the heavier fare the fest is offering this year. Doing all this will ensure you have a safe and successful NZIFF 18.

See you on the other side.

Lowdown

NZ International Film Festival July 19-August 12 nziff.co.nz