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Films Making A Difference

The winners have been announced for the Inspiring Stories Trust’s Making a Difference film competition, which challenges aspiring Kiwi filmmakers to tell the story of a young person who’s doing something extraordinary.

The grand prize winner was Michelle Vergel de Dios, who made the film Sehar’s Story. It explores the adversity and challenges of a young migrant woman in New Zealand, Sehar Moughal, who decided to lead a new initiative to help other young migrant and refugee women better integrate into society.

The film resonates all the more in the current global climate, where numerous countries are debating their willingness to accept Syrian, and other, refugees. The judges of the competition said the film fostered greater understanding and compassion for those making a home in a new society.

Making a Difference is an annual national competition run by the charity Inspiring Stories, which is led by 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year Guy Ryan.

Finalists for the awards were announced in October, after judging by a panel of industry professionals, and the winners awarded at a ceremony in Wellington on Saturday 5 December, 2015 at the Sustainability Trust Building.

Finalists and their friends and families, as well as local film industry members and supporters, shared drinks and nibbles and enjoyed the tunes of Wellington band Lost Bird, before the prizes were awarded. The overall winner received $2000 and a two-day internship at Images & Sound in Auckland. Finalists had traveled from as far away as Invercargill and Kaitaia to attend.

Each year, aspiring filmmakers are given the challenge each year of making a film of no more than 5 minutes in length, about a young person doing something awesome that makes a difference in their community or the world. Guy Ryan, himself a documentary filmmaker, set up the competition to help tell a different story about young Kiwis to the one that is often heard.

Recently, a number of films by previous winners and finalists of the competition have been screening as part of Air New Zealand’s in-flight entertainment service – a big honour. Past winners have included a story about a young Kiwi battling cancer and a group on a quest to combat plastic waste.

The winning films can be watched on the Making a Difference website: makingadifference.org.nz

The winners were:

Overall Winner and Most Inspiring Story
Sehar’s Story
Michelle Vergel de Dios (Auckland)

Social Justice Award
Youth Pride, Youth Passion, Youth Change
Nina Griffiths (Northland)

Leadership Award
Awarded with backing from the Sir Peter Blake Trust
Rewind
Liam van Eeden and Jean-Martin Fabre (Invercargill)

Creativity & Culture Award
Awarded with backing from The Big Idea
Whenua Finds a Future
Sarah Risdale (Palmerston North)

Environment/Kaitiaki Award
Awarded with backing from Sustainable Coastlines
Whenua Finds a Future
Sarah Risdale (Palmerston North)

Best Cinematography Award
Sehar’s Story
Michelle Vergel de Dios (Auckland)

Best Editing Award
Rewind
Liam van Eeden and Jean-Martin Fabre (Invercargill)
Honorable Mentions
Strands of Hope, Amy Huang
Mountains for Malawi, Henry Donald

Making A Difference Award
Sehar’s Story
Michelle Vergel de Dios (Auckland)

Secondary Schools Category Award
Rewind
Liam van Eeden and Jean-Martin Fabre (Invercargill)

Tertiary Institution Category Award
Aspire
Samantha Smyrke (Otago/Rotorua)

Open Category Award
Youth Pride, Youth Passion, Youth Change
Nina Griffiths (Northland)