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Wellington filmmakers win short film awards

A former Wellingtonian, and a local making his directing debut both won awards at the seventh annual New Zealand’s Best 2018 short film competition during the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Chelsie Preston Crayford and her daughter Olive in Falling Up

Director Chelsie Preston Crayford, now based in Auckland, received the Madman Entertainment Jury Prize for the Best New Zealand Short Film for her film Falling Up, along with a cash prize of $5000.

The jury, comprised of author and screenwriter Briar Grace-Smith, arts editor Rosabel Tan and Luke Murray from donor Madman Entertainment, said in their citation that Crayford “balances roles as mother, writer, director, and performer in a film that captures a rare emotional complexity.

Falling Up had us laughing one moment and close to tears the next. A masterful, stand-out film in this year’s line-up.”

The inaugural Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award and $4000 cash was awarded to Judah Finnigan, director of Charmer, which was described by the jury as “a remarkable first film”.

Robyn Malcolm in Charmer

The winning shorts were announced on stage at the Civic Theatre in Auckland on Saturday night, with My Friend Michael Jones, a film by directors Ian Leaupepe and Samson Rambo, taking both The Wallace Friends of the Civic Award and the 2018 Audience Award.

The Wallace Friends of the Civic Award, judged by Sir James Wallace and Associate Producer Alex Plumb, won the filmmakers a cash prize of $4,000 and the Golden Elephant, fashioned in tribute to the elephants that grace the Civic Theatre.

The 2018 Audience Award takes home 25% of the box office takings from screenings in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. In 2017 the prize was valued at $4,500.

NZIFF programmers Bill Gosden, Michael McDonnell and Sandra Reid viewed 84 submissions to prepare a shortlist of 12 films for the awards, with guest selector and filmmaker Leon Narbey, selecting the six finalists, which included No Shame (director Brendan Donovan), Run Rabbit (Robyn Paterson), and Sail Away (Ella Becroft and Tama Jarman), as well as Falling Up, Charmer, and My Friend Michael Jones.