Ara Institute of Canterbury-Te Pukenga’s NZBS School Shorts competition aims to inspire and ignite creativity in the next generation of New Zealand’s filmmakers and judging by the 2022 big screen grand finale at Reading Cinemas, it’s doing just that.
The competition attracted a record 41 entries from 12 South Island schools this year including newcomers James Hargest College from Invercargill and Otago Girls High.
Entries must be shorter than ten minutes and can be any genre from drama to documentary, comedy to horror, movie trailer to corporate video or anything in between with an emphasis on storytelling.
Perhaps appropriately for the All Hallows Eve showcase, it didn’t go unnoticed that many of the films explored grim subject matter.
“Maybe it’s symptomatic of our pandemic times but there were a lot of rather bleak stories involving horror, nightmares, and death,” says NZBS Screen Production Tutor Masen Ma. “Whatever the underlying reason, it was perfect Halloween viewing!”.
The overall winner, a documentary titled Kairos Free Store created by Eva Rose and Stella Nixon from Avonside Girls’ High School, was described by one of the competition judges, film academic and arts critic Dr Erin Harrington, as an “impressive piece of work”.
“It has a story and characters that you care about, and a clear point of view. You can see the rapport the filmmakers had built with their subjects, and the work they put into crafting the final film from raw footage in the edit,” Harrington says.
Ma agrees the subject matter was relevant and expertly handled.
“It’s not easy to get people to share such stories, so we commend Eva and Stella on providing us with this privileged access and insight into everyday hardship and the efforts to alleviate it,” Ma says.
Otago Girls High School, Kaiapoi High School, Lincoln High School, Shirley Boys High school, Nelson College for Girls, and Rangiora High were others to take out prizes.
Praising their efforts, Harrington said the films were infused with a high level of creativity and energy with thrillers and horror, as well as some high concept sci fi playing with genre in interesting ways.
You can see how filmmakers are learning the ropes in terms of traditional craft, as well as experimenting playfully with how to tell stories using visual language in novel ways,” she says.
Ma says Covid disrupted the competition 2021 so it was great to once again fuel the buzz for young filmmakers.
“There’s something special about sharing your film with an audience in the same cinema where you watched the latest Marvel blockbuster,” he says.
“There are a lot of talented filmmakers coming through the schools, and we hope that some of them choose to continue that journey with the New Zealand Broadcasting School.”
Full winners list:
BEST PERFORMANCE The Book, Paige Milburn, Otago Girls’ High School
BEST DOCUMENTARY Kairos Free Store, Eva Rose & Stella Nixon, Avonside Girls’ High School
BEST SCREENPLAY The Space Between, Glenn Swaine, Kaiapoi High School
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Losing Hope, Ryan O’Connor, Lincoln High School
BEST SOUND DESIGN The Hitman, Jacob Saafi & Erfan Ahmadi, Shirley Boys’ High School
BEST EDITING Nicky & Peng, Lucy Milligan, Nelson College for Girls
BEST DIRECTOR Ouija, Ben Dykes, Rangiora High School
BEST OVERALL FILM Kairos Free Store, Eva Rose & Stella Nixon, Avonside Girls’ High School