New Zealand's Best 2021 (2021)

  • Short, Anthology
  • 1h 33m

For New Zealand’s Best 2021 short film competition, NZIFF Head of Programming Michael McDonnell and Senior Programmer Sandra Reid viewed 117 submissions to draw up a shortlist of 12, from which New Zealand actress and filmmaker Kerry Fox selected these six finalists.

Kerry Fox: “Naturally I’m going to lean towards films that deliver courageous, rich, original and truthful performances, but these are the criteria I believe are essential to the whole creation of cinematic drama.

The films I felt most succeeded in their specific intentions were those that tackled their chosen dramas with courage, being prepared to face something that frightens, and wit, so displaying inventive thought and delivery.

Rich conflict and the unexpected were the elements that most stirred my responses, so it was the cinematic expression of the conflict that defines drama that won my heart each time.”

A jury of three (renowned film editor Annie Collins, filmmaker Gaysorn Thavat and Michael Liebmann of Vista Group) selected the award winners:

The Vista Group Award for Best Short Film ($7500) was jointly awarded to When We Were Kids – Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu and Washday – Kath Akuhata-Brown.

The Creative New Zealand Emerging Talent Award ($4000) was awarded to Awa Puna for Tūī.

The Auckland Live Spirit of the Civic Award ($4000) was awarded to Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu for When We Were Kids.

The Audience Choice Award was awarded to Datsun, directed by Mark Albiston.

Audiences at the Wellington and Christchurch screenings voted for the winner of the Audience Choice Award who will receive 25 percent of the box office from the main centre NZIFF screenings.

Films are listed in the order they screen:

Washday NZ 2020 Director/Screenplay: Kath Akuhata-Brown Cast: Te Kohe Tuhaka, Bayleigh Tuhaka | Producers: Julian Arahanga, Verity Mackintosh | Cinematography: Fred Renata | Editor: Te Rurehe Paki | 14 mins | In English and te reo Māori, with English subtitles Eight-year-old Hine and her father still mourn the passing of her mother. One day, while her father works, Hine devises a plan to wash away her father’s sadness.

Only F^!ks Pat Me on the Head NZ 2021 Directors: Steph Miller, Paul Wolffram Co-Creator: Jon Little | Cast: Jon Little | Producers: Abby Lyons, Paul Wolffram | Screenplay: Paul Wolffram | Cinematography: Adam Browne | Editor: Monique Thorp | 20 mins Jon Little humorously shares the frustrations of living with cerebral palsy in a world not designed to accommodate those who are different.

Hot Mother NZ 2020 Director/Screenplay: Lucy Knox Cast: Alison Bruce, Erana James | Producer: Evie Mackay | Cinematography: Adam Luxton | Editor: Paul Rowe | 14 mins Inspired by a true story, a vacationing mother and daughter bicker and avoid connection at an idyllic hot spring retreat… until an unfortunate accident occurs.

Tūī NZ 2021 Director/Screenplay: Awa Puna Cast: Awa Puna, Tane Rolfe, Lawrence Wharerau, Briar Grace-Smith, Flynn Mehlhlopt | Producers: Awa Puna, Flynn Mehlhlopt | Cinematography: Hayden Smithie | Editors: Awa Puna, Hayden Smithie | 18 mins | In English and te reo Māori, with English subtitles Tūī and brother Manaia live alone in a remote farm with their distant father, who is still coming to terms with a tragic loss, but something in the forest calls to Tūī…

When We Were Kids NZ 2020 Director/Screenplay: Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu Cast: Ana Kelliher, Finn Gilbert-Keene, Tim Carlsen | Producer: Sarah Cook | Cinematography: Maria Inés Manchego | Editor: Anastasia Doniants | 12 mins A lazy summer day at the public pools takes a nasty turn, driving a wedge between 13-year-old Jade and her best friend.

Datsun NZ 2021 Director: Mark Albiston Cast: Mickey Reddish, Billy R. McCarthy, Tate Harrow | Producers: Sharlene George, Andy Mauger, Gal Greenspan | Screenplay: Mark Albiston, J. Patrick McElroy | Cinematography: Marty Williams | Editors: Luke Haigh, Mark Albiston | 15 mins Fourteen-year-old Matt takes his dad’s yellow Datsun for one last wild joyride with his best buddy and kid brother in tow.


Steph Miller


Paul Wolffram


Lucy Knox


Awa Puna


Mark Albiston


English, Maori

Country of Origin

New Zealand