Too good to choose: two NZ short films share top award at NZIFF


This year’s New Zealand’s Best short film competition saw not one, but two winners of NZIFF’s top award.

Two short films shared the top award in Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival’s tenth annual New Zealand’s Best short film competition.

When We Were Kids, from director Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu, and Washday, from director Kath Akuhata-Brown, were joint winners of the Vista Group Award for Best Short Film. Announced during the screening at The Embassy Theatre in Wellington, the directors will split a cash prize of $7500.

Washday, dir. Kath Akuhata-Brown

Stewart-Te Whiu also received the Auckland Live Spirit of The Civic Award of $4000, awarded to a filmmaker “whose work indicates the possibility of a feature made by them being of the stature and quality to open a Festival at Auckland’s The Civic in the future.”

Another prize, the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award, went to Awa Puna for Tūī. The awards were judged by a three-member jury: filmmakers Annie Collins and Gaysorn Thavat, and Matthew Liebmann of Vista Group.

When We Were Kids, dir. Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu

“We wish to congratulate all of the filmmakers, whether they were chosen for competition or not – it’s hard making films, not just the shooting of them but gathering the wherewithal to do it to begin with. It is especially important that we support and fund our domestic filmmakers and the stories they tell about us,” says jury member Annie Collins

“There was a high benchmark set by these films – deliberation was long and hard. My fellow jurors and I felt that director Awa Puna’s film showed a new and distinctive voice that indicated great promise for future storytelling to come, and that both directors Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu and Kath Akuhata-Brown’s work equally demonstrated the best craft, the most fully realised storytelling and were both very accomplished works of art.”

Tūī, dir. Awa Puna

The official press release continues:

Akuhata-Brown, Puna and Stewart-Te Whiu’s short films are three of the six short films selected by this year’s Guest Selector, award-winning actress and filmmaker Kerry Fox, from a shortlist of 12 films that NZIFF Head of Programming Michael McDonnell and Senior Programmer Sandra Reid selected from 117 submissions.

The six finalists were Datsun (dir: Mark Albiston), Hot Mother (dir: Lucy Knox), Only F**ks Pat Me On The Head (dirs: Steph Miller, Paul Wolfram), Tūī (dir: Awa Puna), Washday (dir: Kath Akuhata-Brown) and When We Were Kids (dir: Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu).

The New Zealand’s Best Audience Choice Award will be decided by audience voting at New Zealand’s Best screenings in Wellington and Christchurch. The winner of the Audience Choice Award will be announced ahead of the Closing Night screening of Titane in Wellington on Sunday 21 November. The winner receives 25% share of the box office takings from the New Zealand’s Best screenings in Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.