New Zealand Short Stories on Screen at NZIFF 2018

Run Rabbit
13 New Zealand short films will screen as part of two short film collections at New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) in 2018.


Six short films have been selected by Leon Narbey 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 2018.

The New Zealand’s Best programme is NZIFF’s only competition section. 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 Charmer (dir: Judah Finnigan), Falling Up (dir: Chelsie Preston Crayford), My Friend Michael Jones (dir: Ian Leaupepe, Samson Rambo), No Shame (dir: Brendan Donovan), Run Rabbit (dir: Robyn Paterson), and Sail Away (dir: Ella Becroft, Tama Jarman).

“I was given an excellent cluster of films, each so different with their social concerns and visual poetry triggering emotions and making observations about us. Choosing the best six was an extremely hard decision,” says Leon Narbey.

Audiences at the New Zealand’s Best screenings in Auckland and Wellington will be asked to vote for their favourite short. The Audience Award winner takes away a 25% share of the box office takings from the New Zealand's Best screenings in the four main centres. In 2017 this prize was valued at $4,500.

Madman Entertainment will again support the title award, the Madman Entertainment Best Short Film Award. The cash prize of $5,000 is donated by the Australasian distribution company. The winner will be chosen by a three-person jury appointed by NZIFF and Madman Entertainment.

The participation of Sir James Wallace together with the Wallace Foundation and Wallace Productions Ltd will continue the Friends of the Civic Award. The Wallace Foundation stepped in three years ago to fund the award after the dissolution of the longstanding donors, the Friends of the Civic. The Wallace Friends of the Civic Award will be a cash prize of $4,000 and a Golden Elephant Trophy awarded to the film or contributor to a film deemed to merit special recognition.

Guest selector and filmmaker Leon Narbey selected the six finalists from a shortlist of 12. NZIFF programmers Bill Gosden, Sandra Reid, and Michael McDonnell viewed 84 submissions to prepare the shortlist.


The New Zealand’s Best short film finalists for 2018 (notes on each film provided by Leon Narbey):


Run Rabbit
NZ 2018 Director/Screenplay: Robyn Paterson Producer: Paula Boock

A refugee boy in an alien landscape. A delicate work where reflections of war and family tragedy are triggered by everyday actions. Captured with a very real sense of place and an unhurried openness of storytelling.


NZ 2018 Director/Screenplay: Judah Finnigan Producer: Olivia Shanks

A dating couple’s first real encounter. Intimate and sensitive performances where sexuality, loneliness and age are covered in unhurried moments. Enhanced use of colour expresses the feelings of the situation.


No Shame
NZ 2018
Director: Brendan Donovan Producer: Alex Clark

Be warned, this is scary stuff. A young man returns home fractured by past relationships. Love and family cannot uncover his hurt. Close and intense performances edited with a clarity where you can almost smell the adrenaline.


Falling Up
NZ 2018. Director/Screenplay: Chelsie Preston Crayford Producer: Andrew Marshall

When a relationship collapses and the mother is trapped with the child, love and anguish are portrayed in an almost raw documentary way where all the emotional and telling details are present.


My Friend Michael Jones
NZ 2018. Directors: Ian Leaupepe, Samson Rambo Producers: Alex Lovell, Eldon Booth

Being different is difficult within a school where bullying and torment are the norm. Tight storytelling and great performances, with select camera coverage allowing the characters to work the frame.

Sail Away
NZ 2018. Directors: Ella Becroft, Tama Jarman Producer: Ilai Amar

A young man dreams of escape into a childhood passion. Mad, funny and on the edge of the grotesque. A very stylish film with formal compositions adding to a theatrically absurdist cabaret quality.



Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2018 will screen as part of NZIFF 2018. Ngā Whanaunga is curated 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 Native in Nuhaka (dir: Hiona Henare), Ka Piko (dir: Bryson Chun), My Brother Mitchell (dir: Todd Karehana), Moon Melon (dir: Trina Peterz), Shadow Cut (dir: Lucy Suess), Mouse (dir: Lan-rain Feltham), and The Messiah (dir: Vela Manusaute).

"This year's diverse collection takes us from a historic marae in Nuhaka to a sacred mauna in Hawai'i to a messianic sanctuary in South Auckland. Ngā Whanaunga once again is an expression of the connectedness of Polynesian peoples – connections of bloodlines, spirit paths, passion and determination on screen," says curators Leo Koziol and Craig Fasi.


The Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts for 2018 (with curator’s comments in italics):


Native in Nuhaka

NZ 2017. Director: Hiona Henare Producers: Hiona Henare, Louisa Tipene Opetaia.

A short doco exploring the Māori passion for cinema against the backdrop of the annual Wairoa Māori Film Festival. Beautiful and undeniably real, Native in Nuhaka encourages more natives to use film as their statement of choice. — CF


Ka Piko

USA 2017. Director/Screenplay: Bryson Chun Producer: Grace Lim.

A young native Hawaiian man must undergo an unfamiliar tradition following a tragic death. A beautiful story of love, ownership and acceptance. — CF


My Brother Mitchell

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Todd Karehana Producer: Mia Mārama Henry-Tierney.

A Māori boy comes to terms with the death of his brother. A matter of the heart must be resolved between two young brothers. — LK


Moon Melon

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Trina Peters Producer: Unitec Institute of Technology Screen Arts Programme.

A night out with a group of young Pasifika women. Much more than a slice of life portrait, Moon Melon portrays Poly women breaking boundaries of culture and stereotype on the street. — LK


Shadow Cut

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Lucy Suess Producer: Johnny Lyon.

A young man has decided to leave his small town, but struggles to tell the one friend he should. Drawn to a world beyond restrictive walls of rural NZ, a young couple finds truth. — CF



NZ 2018. Director/Screenplay: Lani-rain Feltham Producers: Alyx Duncan, Lani-rain Feltham, Emma Mortimer.

A strained relationship is tested by the encroachment of a chaotic natural world. When love has left the room, the rodents return to breed resentment. — LK


The Messiah

NZ 2017. Director/Screenplay: Vela Manusaute Producer: Sandra Kailahi.

A young runaway finds refuge with a self proclaimed teenaged Messiah. A sublime, dreamy and surreal Polynesian parable. — 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 from Tuesday 26 June for Auckland, Friday 29 June for Wellington, Monday 9 July for Christchurch and Monday 19 July for Dunedin. NZIFF starts in Auckland on 19 July, in Wellington from 27 July, in Christchurch from 2 August, and in Dunedin from 9 August in 2018.


Further information: 

For further information about NZIFF or to arrange an interview with Director Bill Gosden please contact:

Communications Manager, Rebecca McMillan, 0274 555 061

Auckland Publicist, Sally Woodfield, 021 868 020

Dunedin Publicist, Jane Avery, 027 300 7090

Christchurch Publicist, Tyler Adams, 021 883 023

Written by


7 Jun 2018