The Unitec-hosted Uni Shorts International Student Film Festival ran on Saturday, screening its finalists and handing out its gongs. The festival’s Best Film award, voted for by the audience on the day, was won by Alexey Beliakov’s graduation film from the Russian State University of Cinematography, Razor (pictured, top).
The event was re-emerging after a year on hiatus, thanks to lack of funding in 2015, albeit in a truncated form this year and without the panel discussions that have contributed significantly to the festival over its four previous incarnations.Opening the day, Unitec alumna Hanelle Harris addressed the audience. Probably best known as one of the leads of Paolo Rotondo’s Orphans and Kingdoms, she has also produced a couple of short films and recently launched web series Baby Mamas Club on which she is creator, director and an actor.
Harris described herself as a 17-year-old kid from a decile one school up north when she arrived at Unitec. In her second year there she fell pregnant, and took a year off. “I was young, I was brown, I was a mother…”
Her experience informed Baby Mamas Club.
She asked the audience, “What is it that’s unique about you – your culture, your personal experience – what can you say from your point of you that is unique?”
Half the 20 films named as finalists in Uni Shorts five tertiary categories came from NZ, but only Ken Clark’s Terpsichore came away a winner. Two University of Auckland finalists took runner-up spots: Hao Bi’s Sophie’s World and Hash Perambalam’s Not Like Her.
Perambalam’s film was a finalist at Show Me Shorts last year. Its cinematographer, Grant McKinnon, won last year’s NZCS Allen Guilford Cinematography Award (presented as part of the NZIFF’s NZ’s Best competition). This year the award moved to the NZCS’ own awards event, which coincidentally ran the same day as Uni Shorts.
In the NZ-only Secondary School competition, Hunter Williams’ Nvader arrived with two Outlook for Someday wins already under its belt, but missed out at Uni Shorts to Amazir Aknine’s Connected.
As tertiary institutions head towards their end of year or end of course exams the lack of attendance by students was perhaps understandable if disappointing. Perhaps the absence of seminars and discussions thinned others’ interest.
Unitec’s own School of Performing and Screen Arts department wasn’t well represented in the audience but, to its credit, there appears to be a firm resolve amongst the new administration at Unitec to boost this festival in the coming years.
Hopefully they succeed – after all, $15 for over four hours of screen time plus catering is a pretty good deal!
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Film, Alexey Beliakov’s Razor
The 2016 Uni Shorts winners were:
Best Film – Audience Award
Razor, Alexey Beliakov, Russian State University of Cinematography
Runner Up: Lookout, Noa Gusakov, Sam Spiegel Film & TV School
re/belief, Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA,
Runner Up: Warm Snow, Christin Baumgarten, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Germany
Terpsichore, Ken Clark, Canterbury University, New Zealand
Runner Up: Sophie’s World, Hao Bi, University of Auckland , New Zealand
The Rate’s Cut, Pico Nicolas, ECAM, Spain
Runner Up: Keeping Balance, Bernard Wegner, Filmacademy Vienna, Austria
Shadowboxer, Jannis Lenz, Filmacademy Vienna, Austria
Runner Up: Neverland Now, Georg Pelzer, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany
Probation, Thomas Eggel, Hamburg Media School, Germany,
Runner Up: Not Like Her, Hash Perambalam, University of Auckland, New Zealand,
New Zealand Secondary School
Connected, Amazir Aknine, Christ’s College
Runner Up: Two, Rawiri Takinui, Aorere College