New Zealand filmmaker Lee Tamahori (Mahana, Once Were Warriors) has selected his pick of finalists for the New Zealand International Film Festival's annual New Zealand's Best Short Film Competition.
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," says Tamahori. "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."
The New Zealand's Best programme will screen as part of NZIFF 2016.
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.
CradleDirector: 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.
WaitDirector/Screenplay: 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.
ShmeatDirector/Screenplay: 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 TavernDirector/Screenplay: 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 KingDirector/Screenplay/Producer: 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.