Issue date: 
Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Six short films have been selected by Lee Tamahori (Mahana, Once Were Warriors) as finalists for the New Zealand International Film Festival’s annual New Zealand’s Best Short Film Competition.

The New Zealand’s Best finalists will compete for a total of three prizes, with winners to be announced at the closing night event of the Auckland leg of NZIFF.

The six finalists are Spring Jam (dir: Ned Wenlock), Cradle (dir: Damon Duncan), Wait (dir: Yamin Tun), Shmeat (dir: Matasila Freshwater), Judgment Tavern (dir: Dean Hewison), and The King (dir: Ursula Grace Williams).

“It’s always tricky choosing finalists. Excellence in filmmaking comes in many forms. Sometimes the simplest of films triumphs, one can never tell. I look for the most engaging elements in a film, be it animation, documentary or drama. Narrative is important, though not imperative. Imagination and visual stimulation are just as vital. The shortlist I have chosen makes me appreciate why I got into this medium in the first place.” says Lee Tamahori.

The New Zealand’s Best programme will screen as part of NZIFF 2016 and audiences will be asked to vote for their favourite. The Audience Award winner in Auckland and Wellington takes away 25% of the box office from the Festival screenings in the four main centres – in 2015 valued at $4,800.

A jury of three will select the winner of the $5,000 Madman Entertainment Jury Prize, while a $3,000 Wallace Friends of the Civic Award will be awarded by donors the Wallace Foundation and Wallace Media Ltd, to the film or contributor to a film they deem to merit special recognition. (The King, supported by Wallace Media, is not eligible for this prize.)

Guest selector and international filmmaker Lee Tamahori selected the six finalists from a shortlist of 12. Festival programmers Bill Gosden and Michael McDonnell viewed 81 entries to prepare the shortlist.

The NZ’s Best Short film finalists for 2016 (with Lee Tamahori’s comments in italics):

Spring Jam
Director/Screenplay: Ned Wenlock

A young buck suffers a major case of antler-envy in this charming and witty animated short. Great commentary on New Zealand. Funny, irreverent, with excellent use of music and imagery.

Damon Duncan

In this accomplished outer-space drama, a stranded astronaut must wrestle control of her spaceship from its errant computer. A good story, well told. Great set design, sharp editing and generally excellent tech credits. A gripping sci-fi film.

Yamin Tun
A young girl helps her immigrant mother overcome both cultural and emotional barriers. Tense and absorbing narrative with an intentionally enigmatic finale. Good tech credits and finely tuned performances.

Matasila Freshwater
In an animated dystopia, where food and resources are scarce, a mad scientist ventures into the night to procure an icky new food source… Excellent production values encompassing a timely global story. Very Tim Burton-esque, but thoroughly entertaining and humorous.

Judgment Tavern
Dean Hewison
A young girl and her disembodied father search for his missing body in this fantasy short filled with swords and sorcery. Succinct narrative, excellent production and technical skills. A concise piece of storytelling in such a short format. Good performances help to sustain tension.

The King
Ursula Grace Williams
Meet Andy Stankovich, scrap-metal merchant by day and sweet-voiced performer by night. Likeable documentary with a warm heart. A classic New Zealand character, with a touching bunch of associates

NZ films at NZIFF are proudly supported by Resene. NZIFF is run by a charitable trust and encourages lively interactions between films, filmmakers and New Zealand audiences in 13 towns and cities around the country. The full NZIFF programme will be available online from Monday 20 June 7pm, and on the streets from Tuesday 21 June for Auckland and Friday 24 June for Wellington. NZIFF starts in Auckland on 14 July and in Wellington from 22 July in 2016.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 7 June 2016