Uni Shorts 2017 winners announced – high school entry takes top prize

A Perfect Child; a film by students at Christ’s College and St. Margaret’s College in Christ-church, has been voted the Best New Zealand Film at the annual Uni Shorts student film festival, a celebration of student film-making from around the world curated and hosted by Unitec Institute of Technology.

This year’s Uni Shorts line-up saw thirty finalists across six categories with the winners being named at the opening night of the festival at Unitec in Auckland this evening. The judging panel included award-winning filmmaker Alyx Duncan, renowned actress, writer and direc-tor, Aidee Walker, and internationally acclaimed animator, Katie Naeher. The festival runs from tonight until Sunday, 26 November.

The 18-minute long A Perfect Child is the work of around 60 secondary school students from Christ’s College and St. Margaret’s College in Christchurch and tells the story of Ava, a young girl in an orphanage who comes to realise that fellow orphans are being cloned to create perfect children. The film took a year to make, with students involved in every as-pect of production, including writing, directing, casting, costuming and post-production. Di-rected by William Burns, A Perfect Child features an original film score composed by Year 13 student Jeremy Lidstone.

Peter Hewson, Head of Media Studies at Christ’s College, was delighted with the win. “Our objective has been to aspire to the highest possible production values we can, and our win this evening is a fitting acknowledgement of the many months of hard work, perseverance and grit by all the students across both schools. I applaud each and every one of them, and am very proud of what they’ve achieved.”

A Perfect Child also won the Best Secondary School category with judges praising the Christ-church-based students for their strong premise and depth of talent. Runner-up in the cate-gory was Kapiti College with Black Dog.

The University of Auckland dominated the Best Fiction Postgrad category, taking out both the winner and runner-up prizes. In first place was Parasites which tells the story of a young woman fighting pressures from inside and out, pushing her to have children. Judges praised the film for its hilarious premise and solid acting. Runner-up in the category was The Spec-tacular Imagination of the Pohara Brothers.

International institutions took top honours in the Best Fiction Undergrad category. Out of Reach from the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem was placed first with their “poignantly moving, yet simple concept”. The film is about photo shop assistant, Hagar, who in following up customers who have not returned to collect VHS tapes they left to be digit-ised, uncovers a family with a poignant story. The City College of New York was runner-up with Cloud Kumo.

A Dutch film, Reconstructing Reality, by the Design Academy in Eindhoven won the Best Ex-perimental category. The judges found it “entertaining and intriguing” and commented on the effective use of multi-split screens and the perfect timing of the film. The New Zealand film – Strike Out – from the Southern Institute of Technology was runner-up in the category.

European entries came to the fore in the Best Animation category with Child from the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Germany taking first place, and Musicide (Musicidio) from ECIB Escola de Cinema de Barcelona in Spain runner-up. Child drew praise from the judges for its visual style and beautiful construction, as well as its natural animation and effective sound design. Child tells the life story of a child who goes in search of firewood, seeking ev-er more fuel for his fire as he grows into a man.

Wolfe, a personal story about a man’s pursuit of peace and respite from a mental disorder, won the Best Documentary category. The film is from the Griffith Film School in Australia and was praised by the judges for its honesty, rawness and simplicity in covering a complex subject. About art, my family & me, from Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland, was runner-up in the category.

Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Uni Shorts festival chairperson and head of Creative Industries at Unitec, praised the quality and diversity of this year’s submissions, saying “Uni Shorts is one of the only film festivals in the world to celebrate student filmmaking and we’re very proud to be curating and hosting this event.

“The range of films we’ve seen this year was particularly strong, and we look forward to following the success of our winners, particularly those from the younger age categories who are debuting their film-making talents at Uni Shorts.”


Best Secondary School
Runner up: Black Dog / Kapiti College
Winner: A Perfect Child / Christ’s College & St Margaret’s College

Best Experimental
Runner up: Strike Out / Southern Institute of Technology (NZ)
Winner: Reconstructing Reality / Design Academy Eindhoven (Netherlands)

Best Animation
Runner up: Musicide (Musicidio) / ECIB Escola de Cinema de Barcelona (Spain)
Winner: Child / Film Academy Baden-Württemberg (Germany)

Best Documentary
Runner up: About art, my family & me / Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland)
Winner: Wolfe / Griffith Film School (Australia)

Best Fiction undergrad
Runner up: Cloud Kumo / The City College of New York (USA)
Winner: Out of Reach / The Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School (Israel)

Best Fiction postgrad
Runner up: The Spectacular Imagination of the Pohara Brothers/University of Auckland (NZ)
Winner: Parasites / University of Auckland (NZ)

Best New Zealand Film
Winner: A Perfect Child/Christ’s College & St Margaret’s College