NZIFF Media Brief: New Zealand Short Stories on Screen at NZIFF 2017

New Zealand Short Stories On Screen at NZIFF 2017

New Zealand’s Best Shorts and Ngā Whanaunga Shorts Announced

13 New Zealand short films will screen as part of two short film collections at the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) in 2017.

 Six short films have been selected by Gaylene Preston as finalists for the New Zealand International Film Festival’s annual New Zealand’s Best Short Film Competition. Seven short films have been selected by Leo Koziol and Craig Fasi for Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2017.

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 Do No Harm (dir: Roseanne Liang), Laundry (dir: Becs Arahanga), Thicket (dir: Julian Vares), Untitled Groping Revenge Fairy Tale (dir: Catherine Bisley), Waiting (dir: Amberley Jo Aumua), and The Dregs (dir: Matt Campbell).

“Congratulations to all the filmmakers. This collection reflects a genuinely energetic sharing of skills from the film industry at large to support storytellers with something to say. And congratulations too, to NZIFF in providing the space to showcase this talent pool to a wider audience.” says Gaylene Preston.

Audiences at the New Zealand’s Best in Auckland and Wellington will be asked to vote for their favourite. The Audience Award winner takes away 25% of the box office from the New Zealand’s Best screenings in the four main centres – in 2016 valued at over $4,000.

A jury of three will select the winner of the $5,000 Madman Entertainment Jury Prize. The participation of Sir James Wallace together with the Wallace Foundation and Wallace Productions Ltd will continue the Friends of the Civic Award. The $3,000 cash prize and a Golden Elephant trophy will be awarded to the film or contributor to a film deemed to merit special recognition by the donors of the Wallace Foundation and Wallace Media Ltd.

Guest selector and filmmaker Gaylene Preston selected the six finalists from a shortlist of 12. Festival programmers Bill Gosden and Michael McDonnell viewed 83 entries to prepare the shortlist.

The NZ’s Best Short film finalists for 2017 (with Gaylene Preston’s comments in italics):

Do No Harm

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Roseanne Liang

A doctor abides by her hippocratic oath even when violent gangsters interrupt her surgery. Female power rendered extreme by a director successfully stretching her muscles in every direction.


NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Becs Arahanga

A frustrated mum struggles to find intimacy while raising a young family. A real woman’s sexy adventure elevating domestic life and putting the poems of Hone Tuwhare in a place not usually found!


NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Julian Vares

A farm boy is inspired to stand-up to his overbearing father. In the classic NZ rural tradition marked by excellent performances.

Untitled Groping Revenge Fairy tale

Nz 2017. Director/Screenplay: Catherine Bisley

A woman pitches a tent on the edge of a forest and starts to collect men. A most satisfying piece of wry feminist myth making that makes me want to see a lot more from this director.


NZ 2016. Director: Amberley Jo Aumua

Two boys wait outside a dairy for a phone call. An outstanding student film set in a harsh world so rarely presented with such charm married with a sharp aesthetic eye for raw truth.

The Dregs

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Matt Campbell

A teenage misfit starts a band only to lose control to the school bully. I cannot believe this director was not born in 1975! A tribute to high school bands, the Gordons and what elevation from dorkhood a guitar can accomplish.

Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2017 will screen as part of NZIFF 2017. Ngā Whanaunga iscurated by Leo Koziol (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka), Director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, with guest co-curator Craig Fasi (Niue), Director of the Pollywood Film Festival.

The seven confirmed short films are Manahatta (dir: Renae Maihi), Natalie (dir: Qianna Titore), Tama (dirs: Jared Flicroft, Jack O’Donnell), Lady Eva (dir: Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson), Sunday Fun Day(dir: Dianna Fuemana), Tree (dir: Lauren Jackson), and Possum (dir: Dave Whitehead).

“Maori and Pasifika filmmakers talent shines — both on screen and behind the camera — in this diverse collection of short films. Ngā Whanaunga once again is an expression of the diversity and connectedness of Polynesian peoples.” says curators Leo Koziol and Craig Fasi.

The Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts for 2017 (with curator’s comments in italics):


NZ 2017. Director/Producer/Screenplay: Renae Maihi.

An ancient spirit tries to send a message to a recent immigrant in the city that never sleeps. Stones are the symbol of burden – a burden that needs an open heart to carry and put to rest. — CF


NZ 2016. Director/Screenplay: Qianna Titore

A Māori girl receives a precious waiata composed by her deceased father. In this story from Hokianga, tragedy strikes but there is hope in a new beginning. — CF


NZ 2017. Directors: Jared Flicroft, Jack O’Donnell

A deaf Māori boy feels isolated from his family but draws strength from performing the haka. Having reminders of what is important is a necessity. Forgetting what’s important may cost you your life. — CF

Lady Eva

Tonga/USA 2017. Directors: Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson

A young trans woman becomes her true self. Being fa’afafine in Tonga is a challenge – but there’s a beauty pageant where your star can shine no matter who you are. — LK

Sunday Fun Day

NZ 2016. Director/Screenplay: Dianna Fuemana

A teenager and a solo mum prepare to have their own fun on a Sunday. Tiger knows exactly how the world looks at her, but still fights to be accepted by her peers. Acceptance in this case is to be left alone without question. — CF


NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Lauren Jackson

A young woman with a shameful secret hides out from friends and family in a massive tree. A lonely tree in a crowded city becomes the symbol for a young Tongan woman’s personal journey, and a family that loves her no matter what. — LK


NZ 2016. Director/Screenplay: Dave Whitehead

Two brothers hatch a plan to head into the woods and hunt for a notorious possum named Scar. Step back to the 70s in this fantastical Ōtaki-filmed story of two Māori boys growing up in the wild world of Wairoa. — LK

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 26 June 7pm, and on the streets from Tuesday 27 June for Auckland and Friday 30 June for Wellington. NZIFF starts in Auckland on 20 July and in Wellington from 28 July in 2017.

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