Tag Archive for: Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

NZIFF announced the final awards and special mentions during the festival’s Wellington run, with DEGANZ members Pulkit Arora and Douglas Brooks being recognised for their mahi.

Pulkit won the hearts of audiences across the country with his short film Anu, earning him the NZ’s Best 2023 Audience award. The film’s unique perspective of a widow immigrating to Aotearoa through managed isolation proved universal with its exploration of grief. With the accolade, he will receive 25% of the box office revenue from the NZ’s Best screenings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. This is Pulkit’s second win for Anu during NZIFF, after receiving the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent award at the Auckland screening of the shorts programme.

Meanwhile, Douglas received a Special Mention award for Kōkako during the Wellington screening of the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts. His short follows an aspiring ornithologist into the New Zealand bush. While searching for a thought-to-be-extinct bird, she learns of her grandmother’s death and must process the loss while isolated in the wilderness.

Congrats Pulkit and Douglas; what a great way to wrap up the awards section of the festival!

NZIFF is still running throughout Aotearoa until 10 Sept; don’t miss the chance to enjoy some great cinema in your town before it closes.

Congratulations to the winners of NZIFF’s NZ’s Best 2023 awards, including DEGANZ members Pulkit Arora and Jaimee Poipoi! After the six finalist films premiered, the jury (including DEGANZ member Peter Roberts) announced the winners.

For Anu, Pulkit won the Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent award with a $4,000 cash prize. The jury commented:

Writer-director Pulkit Arora has crafted a soulful and sensitively-wrought portrait of a woman literally and figuratively isolated in her grief. Movingly uncovering the oft-dismissed residual pain of the pandemic era, Anu discovers the cinematic hidden within the drab of an anonymous quarantine hotel. Aided by an exquisite lead performance from Prabha Ravi, Arora firmly announces himself as a fresh talent to watch.

Hey Brainy Man, co-produced by Jaimee, won the $7,500 NZIFF Patrons Award for Best Short Film. The jury’s comments were:

Formally daring, bitterly humorous and dreamily unsettling, Hey Brainy Man is a heady alchemical mix of absurdist flourishes and clearheaded warnings about humankind’s hubris. Backed by an endearingly batty chorus of Neanderthals, directors Randerson and Taylor are clear in their messaging, sounding the alarm without ever succumbing to overt or obvious preachiness. The film’s final note is one of dreadsoaked foreboding, lingering in the mind long after it’s subjects have faded into the ether.

Additionally, DOP Adam Luxton, who worked on both Anu and Hey Brainy Man, received a special mention for his cinematography.

The Audience Award, voted for by the public, will be given on the closing night of the festival in Wellington. The winner will receive 25% of box office sales from NZIFF screenings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Non-Auckland festival goers, make sure you get to NZ’s Best and vote for your favourite film of the bunch!

Well done to the award winners and their fellow finalists! We are already excited to see next year’s selection.

NZIFF officially opened on Wednesday to great success! While we can’t wait to see all our members’ mahi up on the big screen, we are just as excited to hear them discuss their projects.

This year, NZIFF is hosting a series of Meet the Filmmaker Q&A sessions with the directors of select films. Don’t miss the chance to hear directly from the filmmakers on their creative process, how they overcame challenges along the way, and advice on their craft.

Check our list of when DEGANZ members’ projects are screening in NZIFF to find out when their Q&A sessions are.

View from the Top banner

“It’s bleak out there,” I’ve been saying to myself as I look out the office window each day at the weather… for weeks now. And frankly, the New Zealand screen industry at this point in time isn’t much better.

The interminable New Zealand Screen Production Rebate Review is still ongoing, no matter the announcement of minor changes to mollify discontent. Perhaps the NZ On Air funding announcements tomorrow will bring some cheer.

But the good news is that the New Zealand International Film Festival is back and in great shape, apart from the bugs that have been plaguing their website and ticketing. Hopefully, all will be sorted by the end of this week.

129 full-length films. Seven short film collections. Nine Aotearoa films having their world premiere. A lot of our members have films in there. There’s much of the best that this year’s Cannes had to offer. And a whole lot more. Going through the 2023 programme reminded me of pre-Covid selections—a wealth of the best arthouse films from around the world on offer—blessings to the late and great NZIFF festival director Bill Gosden. Which isn’t to say that Bill’s replacement Marten Rabarts didn’t make a good go of it. But he was unfortunately hit with the worst of times for cinema and film festivals—the pandemic years.

During COVID and even last year with its small programme, I was a little despondent about not having the winter thrill of sitting enthralled while tales of wonder, sorrow, drama, despair, and entertainment played out on the big screen, with audiences that collectively gasped, smiled, cried… or sometimes puzzled or were dismayed at what they were watching. That’s NZIFF for you. You’re never left unmoved by the choices they have curated.

We, too, are back with our involvement with NZIFF.

DEGANZ is working with the team at the festival on the Masterclass with Rolf de Heer and the panels for visiting directors. Check out Meet The Filmmakers, NZIFF Connect, and NZIFF Engage on page 83 of the programme.

We are also re-igniting our director hosting programme that we ran for many years prior to COVID, providing directorial collegiality and networking opportunities to those international directors accompanying their films here.

I encourage all of you to grab a programme, buy tickets and get your butts onto cinema seats while the festival is on. And don’t neglect those events we are involved with.

Welcome back, NZIFF! I have certainly missed you.


Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

NZIFF released the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts selection, featuring Kōkako, written and directed by DEGANZ member Douglas Brooks (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungungu, Ngāti Pākehā).

The short film studies grief through the perspective of an aspiring ornithologist as she braves the Aotearoa wilderness to search for an extinct bird, the kōkako. However, when a brief moment of cell phone coverage delivers the news of her grandmother’s passing, Ashley must process her loss alone in the forest.

One of the curators of the programme, Leo Koziol, commented on the film:

The underlying theme is dark and mournful, but this bounty of birds is a fantastical delight from start to finish, never will I think the same again when I visit my Ngāhere.

All finalists in this programme are eligible for the Wellington UNESCO City of Film award for Best Film with a $3,000 cash prize. NZIFF audiences will also vote for the $1,000 reward Letterboxd Audience Award, announced at the festival’s closing night in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Best of luck during the festival to the Kōkako team!