New Zealand’s Best Short Film Competition

A single short film took three of the four major prizes in the third annual NZIFF New Zealand’s Best Short Film Competition at Auckland’s Civic Theatre tonight.

The Madman Entertainment Jury Prize of $5000 for the Best New Zealand Short Film was awarded to Ross & Beth, directed and written by Hamish Bennett and produced by Orlando Stewart. The film also won the inaugural Allen Guilford Cinematography Award from the New Zealand Cinematographers Society (NZCS), awarded to Grant McKinnon. Finally the film took away the 2014 Audience Award.

The jury selected Abigail Greenwood, director of the film Eleven, for The Friends of the Civic Short Film Award for distinctive creative achievement. The filmmaker receives a prize of $3000 cash.

The three judges were Eleanor Catton MNZM, 2013 Man Booker prize winner and author of The Luminaries, visiting filmmaker Rolf de Heer (Charlie’s Country, Ten Canoes) and Michael Eldred, representative for Madman Entertainment.

All the finalists are listed below (comments from Andrew Adamson)

Eleven – New Zealand 2013 – Director: Abigail Greenwood    

A beautifully painful story of peer pressure and betrayal. Well shot and well acted by the young cast, it’s a very moving story that takes one back to the difficult years of childhood.

Cold Snap – New Zealand 2013 – Director: Leo Woodhead

A well structured, beautifully shot narrative… It leaves the audience contemplating life, death and pain – and how confusing such things can be for a child dealing with death every day.

Over The Moon – New Zealand 2013 – Director: James Cunningham

A witty and imaginative take on the ‘battle of the sexes’. Cunningham has made great use of technology and whimsical production design to create a fun but pointed commentary on one of the many testosterone heavy occupations.

Ross & Beth – New Zealand 2014 – Director: Hamish Bennett

A well crafted character study of aging rural New Zealand. Lovely subtle performances paint a sweet, sad and gentle story rooted in relatable characters.

School Night – New Zealand 2014 – Directors: Leon Wadham, Eli Kent

Hayley Sproull’s performance is perfectly subtle as a sympathetically insecure young woman caught between youth and premature aging. A very complete and satisfying narrative that is rare in the short film format.

U.F.O. – New Zealand 2014 – Director: Gregory King

A unique take on a child escaping his surroundings. Good use of makeup and effects sets you up for a turn from the surreal to the tragically real. In the bleak New Zealand tradition the film is affecting and stays with you.

NZIFF runs in Auckland until 6 August, in Wellington until 13 August, in Dunedin until 17 August before continuing around the country. The NZ’s Best Shorts programme will screen in every NZIFF regional programme.