Get to know the fresh crop of short films from Kiwi filmmakers selected to play at this year’s Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival.
(Pictured above: When We Were Kids)
There’s already been an eye-bulging number of mighty feature films announced for this year’s Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival. However, we’re not ones to overlook one of the festival’s most important mainstays for cinema Aotearoa—the short film showcases.
Here, we highlight the New Zealand short films selected to play at NZIFF 2021 and give an overview of the three collections that house them.
New Zealand’s Best 2021
Each year, a guest curator handpicks six short films to play in this section. Veteran actor and filmmaker Kerry Fox does the honours this year, selecting these finalists from a shortlist of 12 (from an initial 117 submissions).
“Naturally I’m going to lean towards films that deliver courageous, rich, original and truthful performances,” Fox explained, “but these are the criteria I believe are essential to the whole creation of cinematic drama. The films I felt most succeeded in their specific intentions were those that tackled their chosen dramas with courage, being prepared to face something that frightens, and wit, so displaying inventive thought and delivery.”
Here are the films Fox selected (and scroll down further to read more on her own film playing in a different section).
Dir. Kath Akuhata-Brown
Eight-year-old Hine and her father still mourn the passing of her mother, but one day while her father works, Hine devises a plan to wash away her father’s sadness.
Only F**ks Pat Me On The Head
Dir. Steph Miller & Paul Wolffram
Jon Little humorously shares the frustrations of living with cerebral palsy in a world not designed to accommodate those who are different.
Dir. Lucy Knox
Inspired by a true story, a vacationing mother and daughter bicker and avoid connection at an idyllic hot spring retreat until an unfortunate accident occurs.
Dir. Awa Puna
Tūī and brother Manaia live alone in a remote farm with their distant father still coming to terms with a tragic loss, but something in the forest calls to Tūī.
When We Were Kids
Dir. Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa)
A lazy summer day at the public pools takes a nasty turn driving a wedge between 13-year-old Jade and her best friend.
Dir. Mark Albiston
Fourteen-year-old Matt takes his dad’s yellow Datsun for one last wild joyride with his best buddy and kid brother in tow.
Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts
Leo Koziol (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka), director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, and Craig Fasi (Niue), director of the Pollywood Film Festival, return once again to curate another quality round of Māori Pasifika short films. Here are their selections for NZIFF 2021 along with their descriptions of each film.
Dir. Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand
When a burglary goes wrong, CJ must choose between his whānau and his next fix.
“A whānau bond can’t be broken apart, even if the trespasses made skew to forsaking not forgiving.” – LK
Dir. Chantelle Burgoyne
Isabelle feels left behind as her teenaged older sister Tiana grows up leading to a moment of betrayal that threatens to shatter their relationship forever.
“The unmistaken angst of running before learning to walk. A common and unfortunately incurable dilemma of many uninhibited, invincible youth of all generations. Learning fast is essential.” – CF
fire in the water, fire in the sky
Dir. Mīria George
Sisters Tia and Ina are far from home. Tia is focused on her work, while the free-spirited Ina just wants to dance.
“The film traps you with curiosity to potentially discover the elusive existence of a better life. The sacrifice is real however the resolve is not guaranteed.” – CF
Dir. Maruia Jensen
Hip hop producer Chance hides away from his friends while secretly grieving a massive loss.
“Emotional wounds bleed with no warning and seemingly no medical aid to assist with the spiritual healing required – however, bad can be accompanied by good.” – CF
Dir. Raymond Edwards
James and Bella are in love, but Bella has a secret which could change their lives.
“True love is tested in this engrossing tale saturated with East Coast light and modern romance angst.” – LK
The Man Downstairs
Additional New Zealand short films
While they may not be part of New Zealand’s Best, the following films are still some of the best shorts you’ll see from local filmmakers this year. It’s a reflection of the high-calibre of submissions made, with the following seven films playing before select features in Auckland and Wellington.
Dir. Tabitha Arthur
Teenager Jewelisa sparks a chaotic family cringefest when her preparations for a secret date go awry.
The Man Downstairs
Dir. Grant Lahood
Young couple Jess and Tom move into the perfect new apartment upstairs from their landlord Colin, but then things start getting strange.
Dir. Grant Lahood
Karen’s sudden encounter an icon from her past conjures evocative memories of her late father and his passion for a model Mississippi paddleboat.
Dir. Gillian Ashurst
In a twist of chromosomes and fate, young Izzy may also be the key to humanity’s future in a world ravaged by a deadly virus.
Dir. Steven Chow
Rose’s violent plan for revenge against her domineering “tiger parents” spins out of control.
Dir. Fiona McKenzie
Mark is pushed out of his comfort zone while trying to reconnect with his estranged son Toby and deal with his new neighbour Amber who does things differently.
Dir. Kerry Fox
High above London, two Irish scaffolders unwittingly expose their secret selves.