Cargo selected for prestigious US festival

The New Zealand short film Cargo has been selected for the short film competition of the 7th Tribeca Film Festival in New York City next month.   This will be the North American premiere for Cargo, written and directed by New Zealander Leo Woodhead and shot in Prague. This follows a world premiere at the 64th edition of the Venice Film Festival in August 2007.

‘We are thrilled with this selection because Tribeca Film Festival is fast becoming one of the most important film events in the U.S. The Festival was started 7 years ago as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Centre so it is a particularly resonant event for us,’ says New Zealand Film Commission Short Film Manager, Juliette Veber. 

Artistic Director of Tribeca Film Festival, Peter Scarlet said, ‘This year’s crop of short films show that these filmmakers sometimes display an imaginative flair that reminds us that a successful sprint can be just as much of an achievement as a marathon.’

Cargo portrays a young boy’s descent into the world of child trafficking. Believing he is about to cross a border to a new life, the young runaway instead discovers he is to be sold as a human slave.  Through a remarkable moment of pity, he is spared – but the reprieve comes at a huge personal cost.

Woodhead explains; ‘I’m interested in what human beings do in order to survive, and how they can lose the essence of who they are in the process. When escape seems impossible, the boy is given the opportunity to live.  But he’s dying inside because he’s losing the emotions that give him humanity.’

The film was produced by Vanessa Alexander and Woodhead, and was made as part of Woodhead’s final year thesis for the Masters of Screen Production at the Department of Film, TV and Media at Auckland University. It was Woodhead’s friendship with Martin Priess, DOP for Cargo, which lead to a student exchange organised by Auckland University and FAMU in Prague where the short was filmed. 

Cargo was funded independently by Woodhead with post production funding from the New Zealand Film Commission. 

2,497 short films were submitted to Tribeca, with 79 selected.  They will be presented in 11 thematic programmes. Cargo has been selected for Off the Beaten Path.  The complete list of shorts selected for Off the Beaten Path, Tribeca Film Festival 2008 are:

Ana’s Way, directed and written by Richard Vazquez (Spain)

Angels Die in the Soil, directed and written by Babak Amini (Iran)

Cargo, directed and written by Leo Woodhead (New Zealand)

Good Boy, directed and written by Davyde Wachell (US/Brazil)

New Boy, directed and written by Steph Green (Ireland)

The New Yorkist
, directed and written by Dana O’Keefe (USA)

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music and culture.  Since its founding, the Festival has attracted over two million attendees from the US and abroad and has generated more than $425 million in economic activity for New York City.

The 2008 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 23 to May 4th, 2008.  For more information about the Tribeca Film Festival, visit

[release from NZ Film]

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