NZ shorts get strong start at Europe fests

[Press Release by New Zealand Film Commission]

Three New Zealand short films have been selected to screen for several of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious film festivals.

Betty Banned Sweets has been selected to screen at the 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival in late January and the 31st Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in February. Aphrodite’s Farm and Kehua will screen in competition at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, also in February.

It is a great start to the year for New Zealand short films on the festival circuit, with newcomer writer/director Michelle Savill’s Betty Banned Sweets selected for the New Arrivals section of the 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival and the international competition of the most important short film event in the world, the 31st Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in France.

Aphrodite’s Farm, directed and co-written by Adam Strange has been selected to premiere internationally in competition of the Generation 14plus section of the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, which is aimed at a young adult audience. Kehua, written and directed by Wiremu Grace, the son of celebrated New Zealand author, Patricia Grace, will have it’s world premiere competing in the Generation Kplus category, which is aimed at children. Thirty short films from all over the world are vying for Crystal Bears in the two competitions.

Betty Banned Sweets is a 15-minute tragic comedy written, directed and produced by Michelle Savill about a boy who dreams of escaping to South America. While Benjamin obsessively plans his getaway, his mother plans his unwanted birthday party.

Aphrodite’s Farm is a modern fairytale set in Taranaki. The 15 minute short film is co-written and based on a story by Peter Force and is produced by Anzak Tindall. The story centres around a family who produce magical milk on Aphrodite’s Farm. When the patriarch dies, the future of the farm is thrown into jeopardy.

“Of all the A-List festivals to start our international run with, Berlin is a brilliant first outing. The crème of the European Circuit, I’m over the moon,” says the director and co-writer of Aphrodite’s Farm, Adam Strange.

“We know the Generation 14plus programme will be a most fitting home for the film and the best possible springboard to deliver Aphrodite’s Farm to the world with pride. We are most grateful for this privilege and can’t wait to be a part of this exciting event”, says producer, Anzak Tindall.

Kehua is a 13-minute drama about a young Maori boy from Australia, with his first experiences of New Zealand being a tangihanga (funeral). The young boy unwittingly becomes a messenger for a spirit, with a responsibility to deliver words from beyond the grave. Kehua is produced by Libby Hakaraia, who also produced the short film Hawaikii, which was selected for the Generation Kplus section of the 57th Berlin International Film Festival in 2007.

“It’s fantastic that a story about a young “Mossie” boy – a Maori Aussie – and his first experiences of a marae translates and is relevant to people from a completely different culture, language and background,” says Wiremu Grace, writer/director of Kehua. “I look forward to watching the film with a young German audience.”

“These days, growing up can be dangerous”, says Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin generation section director Maryanne Redpath when she looks at this year’s Generation programme. “By no means are all the adventures here of an external nature. Conflicts occur ever more frequently in the mind and are capable of causing just as much trouble there.”

Adam Strange and Wiremu Grace will travel to Berlin and Michelle Savill will travel to Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand to attend the festivals.

Aphrodite’s Farm was funded by the Short Film Fund of the New Zealand Film Commission. Kehua was funded by the Screen Innovation Production Fund, a partnership between the NZFC and Creative New Zealand, with post production funding from the NZFC. Betty Banned Sweets received post-production funding from the NZFC.

International sales for all three short films are handled by NZ Film, which is the sales arm of the NZFC.