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After the sold-out screening of New Zealand’s Best 2022 short film competition, Whānau Marama: NZIFF announced the winners. DEGANZ member Bala Murali Shingade’s Perianayaki, written and produced by Shreya Gejji and edited by Shailesh Prajapati (DEGANZ) swept up two awards!

Perianayaki won the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award with a cash-prize of $4,000 and the Flicks Award for Best Short Film with $7,500. Additionally, actor Jeyagowri Sivakumaran received a special mention for her vulnerable performance as the titular character. Inspired by the story of the real-world Perianayaki, the film’s heartfelt, slice-of-life narrative encourages empathy in all who watch it.

Additionally, Trees, directed by Tom Scott and Ben Bryan, won The Auckland Live Spirit of The Civic Award with a cash-prize of $4,000.

Jury member Tim Wong said, “We were ultimately drawn to two shorts at opposite ends of the spectrum of excellence: one that swung for the fences and committed to a vision, and another that grounded itself quietly yet profoundly in the everyday. Trees was striking in its confident ambition, while Perianayaki was searingly truthful, with a central performance we won’t forget.”

The Audience Award, voted for by the public, will be awarded on the closing night of the festival in Wellington on August 14. This winner will walk away with a 25% share of the box office sales from the competition’s total screenings.

Congratulations to Bala, Shailesh and the Perianayaki team and to the other finalists and winners!

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The 75th Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is featuring multiple members’ mahi this year! The festival runs from 12-20 August and will screen five NZ projects across various programmes.

Member Michelle Savill’s Millie Lies Low and Matthew Saville’s Juniper, edited by member Peter Roberts, are making their UK premiere in the festival’s Heartbreakers programme. They will appear alongside other films exploring the fraught relationships of friends, family, lovers, and cheaters.

Meanwhile, Nude Tuesday, directed by DEGANZ member Armagan Ballantyne, and feature film Whina will celebrate their European debuts. Nude Tuesday, a literally gibberish film devised by Armagan and fellow DEGANZ member Jackie van Beek, is set to screen as the Central Gala film.

Additionally, the festival’s New Shorts: On Leaving programme will feature member Mīria George’s short film fire in the water, fire in the sky. This strand features stories about migration, from the anticipation of leaving and journeying to the physical and psychological consequences after the move.

Both Armagan and Michelle will attend the festival with the support of NZFC and the EIFF, respectively.

We are excited to see these Kiwi films achieving international recognition in their festival rounds. Congratulations to Michelle, Peter, Armagan, Jackie and Mīria!

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The trailer for We Are Still Here was locally released on July 25, giving us a taste for this new, exciting film. The directorial team includes DEGANZ members Chantelle Burgoyne, Tim Worrall and board member Renae Maihi, along with Richard Curtis, Miki Magasiva, Mario Gaoa, Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean, Dena Curtis and Tracey Rigney.

The uniquely Indigenous film will make its Aotearoa premiere at the Whānau Mārama: NZIFF on August 4. It is also set to screen at MIFF in Melbourne and featured during the Sydney Film Festival’s opening night.

We Are Still Here is told through the perspectives of eight protagonists across 1,000 years, spanning past, present and future. It explores themes of kinship, grief and resilience. The interwoven stories highlight the strength of love and hope over the trauma that Indigenous people in the Pacific share. The film seeks to remind viewers that despite colonialism, racism, imperialism, and the attempted erasure of lives and culture, Indigenous people are still here.

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DEGANZ President Robyn Paterson continues her work as series producer and additional director for the second season of Down for Love. The Attitude Pictures series recently received funding from NZOA for five more 44-minute episodes for TVNZ.

Down for Love has earned its place in the hearts of many as it celebrates disability and neurodiversity. It follows six Kiwis with Down Syndrome as they search for love and romance. In an interview with The Spinoff, Robyn explains, “We wanted to do something in the area of love and relationships because there are significant barriers for people living with disabilities”. She describes that the production utilised more documentary-style storytelling “so that it could go beyond just entertainment”.

Season 1 earned praise for bringing attention to the untold romantic stories of people with Down Syndrome. While still falling into the match-making reality TV genre, the show’s dedication to research exemplifies its intention of facilitating genuine connections between the people on the show. Consequently, the relationship success rate post-show is much higher than its counterparts.

Additionally, Attitude has dedicated resources to fostering more diversity behind the scenes, mentoring and helping grow the careers of people who live with disabilities. This attention to inclusivity both in front of and behind the camera garnered the show’s support from the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA). Attitude and NZDSA collaborated throughout production, ensuring the show portrayed truthful and accurate representation.

We look forward to the release of season 2!

Watch Season 1

Members Kath Akuhata-Brown and Bala Murali Shingade will soon head off to the MIFF Accelerator Lab at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Kath and Bala will be attending the Lab’s programmes this August with the financial support of the NZFC.

The Accelerator is an acclaimed lab for promising short filmmakers to assist in their transition into feature filmmaking. Each year, MIFF selects by invitation up to 25 directors from the festival’s short film programme.

The programme provides four days of seminars, workshops, screenings and networking opportunities on the screen industry’s business and creative aspects. These events occur in August alongside the films’ public screenings in the specifically tagged Accelerator Screenings selection. This concludes with the MIFF Shorts Awards. The award winners of the Best Short Film, Best Australian Short Film, Best Documentary and Best Animation will be eligible to enter the Oscars.

Kath Akuhata-Brown

Kath will be attending the MIFF Accelerator Lab for directing Washday, a short film inspired by an ancient Māori story of the wind and the power of a child’s love for a parent. Eight-year-old Hine devises a plan to wash away her father’s grief for her passed mother. The film highlights simple rituals of daily life and the constant spiritual presence of gods and ancestors in a small Māori family.

This touching story has screened at multiple other festivals and crowned NZIFF’s Best Short Film in 2021. Additionally, Washday will be screening at the Smithsonian’s Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this August.

Bala Murali Shingade

Bala was invited to the programme with his film Perianayaki, edited by fellow DEGANZ member Shailesh Prajapati. Titular character Perianayaki, a recent Sri Lankan immigrant, is forced to reconcile with the bittersweet realities of her life on the day of her wedding anniversary. The film encourages empathy and provokes audiences to reconsider their assumptions of often ignored immigrants and service industry workers. The slice-of-life film will premiere at NZIFF this year as part of the Whānau Mārama: New Zealand’s Best selection.

We wish Kath and Bala a great time at the Accelerator Lab!