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Unitec Celebrates More Film Success At Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

Unitec Institute of Technology is celebrating yet another one of its student films being selected to screen at New Zealand’s premier film festival. Unitec’s Childhood Room was one of 12 locally made films shortlisted for the Best Short Award at next month’s Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival. While it was not chosen as one of the six finalists, the film has been included in the festival programme in the Kiwi Shorts collection from 1-7 August.

Written and directed by Unitec Screen Arts student Duncan Dykes as his graduation project last year, Childhood Room tells the story of a young woman, in the midst of moving out of the room she grew up in, who inexplicably ends up face-to-face with a nine-year-old version of herself – forcing her to confront the ways she still clings to the past, and her uncertainties about where her life is headed.

“The film was a highly personal product, a love letter to the difficult but necessary journey of growing up and allowing yourself to change from what you once valued,” says Dykes, who credited the film’s success to the “talent and investment of an incredible cast and crew”. “To see it resonate with people I've never met is the highest compliment I could imagine.”

This year’s selection follows a proud history of success for Unitec at NZIFF and on the local and international film festival circuit. In 2018, Moon Melon (written and directed by Unitec graduate Trina Peters) was shortlisted for the NZIFF’s Best Short Award. In 2017, Waiting (written by Sam Kamu and directed by Amberley Jo Aumua, both Unitec graduates) won the top award at NZIFF, winning Best Short and going on to selection for the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and other film festivals worldwide. Yamin Tun’s Wait, which she wrote while studying towards a graduate diploma at Unitec, won Best Short at NZIFF 2016. This came four years after her graduation film Two Princes was selected to screen at NZIFF 2012. And in 2015, Mine (written by Emilia Robinson and directed by fellow Unitec grad Paloma Schneideman) was shortlisted for the Best Short Award at NZIFF that year.

Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Head of Unitec’s Creative Industries, says Childhood Room’s selection is another great example of the brave filmmaking talent being nurtured at Unitec. “Creative Industries at Unitec are thrilled to have this student-made short film selected for New Zealand’s premier film festival,” says Dr Byrnes. “It is a beautifully made short film that will resonate with everyone, young and old, and we hope will inspire future filmmakers at Unitec.”

For more information on the programme and to see more about the film, go to the NZIFF website For more info on Unitec’s Screen Arts programme at the School of Creative Industries go to or call 0800 10 95 10.

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