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Australian film wins top honours at Uni Shorts film festival

15 April 2013

Australian film wins top honours at Uni Shorts film festival

A short film which raises questions about Australia's attitudes towards race, origin and immigration and fear of change, has won top honours at the 2013 Uni Shorts International Student Film Festival, held at Auckland's Unitec over the weekend.

First Contact, directed by Victorian College of Arts student, Matthew Richards, rose above some tough competition in the Postgraduate Fiction category while also winning the coveted Best Film Overall/Audience award. First Contact tells the story of a father and daughter living in self-imposed exile whose calm world is suddenly shattered by the discovery of a mysterious stranger. The film edged out University of Auckland entry, Milk and Honey, directed by Marina McCartney, in both categories.

There was more success for Australian film schools in the equally competitive Documentary category with Queensland University of Technology entry, The Hardcore Obsession, directed by Nick Moore taking out the top award ahead of South Seas Film & TV School entry, Roller Derby Saved My Soul, directed by Corinna Hunziker. Oculus, a film by Staffordshire University's Simon Hill, won the Experimental category. Israeli film, Such Eyes directed by The Sam Spiegel Film & TV School's Rafael Balulu , won the Undergraduate Fiction category. There was success for New Zealand schools as Auckland's Media Design School swept the Animation category with their short films, Funeral Home Pinatas and Luna Park, judged winner and runner up respectively.

Auckland's St Kentigern College was the inaugural winner of the NZ Secondary Schools category. Lucas Sach's film, The Night of their Lives, was judged the winner ahead of runner up, Christ's College entry, The Sleeper. directed by Will Anderson and Charlotte Jackson.

All category winners will receive NZ$1000 prize money and a plaque.

Uni Shorts committee chairperson, Athina Tsoulis, said the two-day festival was a resounding success with over 120 participants coming away inspired by the screenings and panel sessions, which culminated at the festival's awards night on Sunday. "We received nearly 200 film entries and the quality of the films was very high. So the task of judging was not easy," she said. "The standard of films in the secondary schools category was also impressive; we have some great talent coming through."

International judge, Chris 'Doc' Wyatt, echoed Athina's remarks. "I've judged at many film festivals and this was the first one where there was no clear cut winner. It was very hard to choose because the quality was that high."

Athina also remarked positively at the presence of student film-makers from overseas, some coming from as far away as China and Holland, and called for more collaboration amongst local film schools and universities to ensure more New Zealand film work was supported and seen on the international stage.

Tsoulis thanked Chris and the rest of the judging panel; Briar March, Zia Mandviwalla and Yuhei Higashikata, and commended the speakers, moderators, participants and film entrants for making Uni Shorts 2013 a success.

2013 Uni Shorts winners

Best NZ Secondary School
1st The Night of their Lives - St Kentigern College, Auckland
2nd The Sleeper - Christ's College, Christchurch

Best Documentary
1st The Hardcore Obsession - Queensland University of Technology, Australia
2nd Roller Derby Saved my Soul - South Seas Film & TV School, NZ

Best Animation
1st Funeral Home Pinatas - Media Design School, NZ
2nd Luna Park - Media Design School, NZ

Best Experimental
1st Oculus - Staffordshire University, UK
2nd Here inside you - Rochester Institute of Technology, USA

Best Undergraduate Fiction
1st Such Eyes - The Sam Spiegel Film & TV School, Israel
2nd In the Nick of Time - Beuth University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Best Postgraduate Fiction
1st First Contact - Victorian College of Arts, Australia
2nd Milk and Honey - University of Auckland, NZ

Best Film Overall - Audience vote
1st First Contact - Victorian College of Arts, Australia
2nd Milk and Honey - University of Auckland, NZ

Call for entries for Uni Shorts 2014 will be called soon. Visit


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