It’s On Until It’s Not: Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2021 Strides Ahead

New Zealand’s largest international short film festival is set to open in 30+ cinemas across Aotearoa from 1 October.

The line-up has been unveiled for Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2021, New Zealand’s premiere international short film festival and this year’s programme includes more world premieres than ever before.

A record 14 brand new films from New Zealand and around the world are included in this year’s line-up, whose filmmakers have chosen little old New Zealand’s biggest little film festival as the first outing for their masterpieces.

From over 1600 entries from across the globe, the Show Me Shorts selection panel has curated a spectacular programme of 75 of the world’s best short films including three music videos.

Acting Festival Director Gareth Farry says, “The challenging times we are in has brought a real depth and edginess to the films we have seen this year – it’s a programme like no other in that way. And the fact that New Zealand audiences will be the first in the world to see many of the films is an extraordinary nod to the mana of our special festival.

“We hope our programme will inspire and surprise our audiences. With stories of identity and longing, intrigue and drama, and tales of the chaos of love, they’ll find refreshing takes on familiar themes known to us all, new perspectives in real life stories, and some beautifully-realised animation,” Farry says.

COVID-permitting, the Festival will be launched Friday 1 October at Auckland’s Rialto Cinemas Newmarket. Christchurch’s Opening Night at Alice will follow on Thursday 7, and Wellington’s Opening Night takes place at The Embassy on Friday 8 October. 

Further announcements will follow on the Show Me Shorts website detailing how COVID restrictions will affect Auckland events, once up-to-date information is available.

Spanning a variety of genres – from comedy to science fiction, fantasy to thriller – and each around 20 minutes or under, the 2021 selection represents 22 countries: Aotearoa, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iran, India, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Sudan, USA and the UK.

As ever, the Show Me Shorts is a powerful vehicle for promoting the best new Kiwi shorts.

For example, from previous Show Me Shorts award winner director Yamin Tun is a stunning new film Blood and Gold, which tells a story of the Otago goldrush from a woman’s perspective.

A father and daughter bond over medicinal canibais in a touching and topical family drama, Green.

Well-known actor and director Dwayne Cameron partnered with Sarah James and Weta Digital to create a moving new film with brilliant visual effects, June.

Lover and the Sea

Young filmmaker Nahyeon Lee makes her Show Me Shorts debut with Sixteen, and we welcome a return to the screen of Temuera Morrison alongside Tanea Heke in The Woman in Blue.

Show Me Shorts is renowned for delivering some of the very best short films from across the world to New Zealand cinemas and this year is no exception.

The festival’s first Sudanese film, Al Sit, will win hearts across the country.

Freefalltakes us back to twenty years ago to the events of 9/11 in a startling and original way.

And audiences will be moved by the compelling spoken word animation from Neil Gaiman, voiced by Amanda Palmer, The Mushroom Hunters.

And it wouldn’t be a COVID-year without a few pandemic-inspired shorts.

Straight Outta COVID, set at a corderned-off, playground will have tamariki across the country giggling.

French comedy Survivors takes pandemic-anxiety to a new level, and with one person per shot, Hysteria – shot in Switzerland in Level 3 lockdown – is a some light relief from the worldwide COVID-grief.

Seven Australian short films will be presented in a special stand-alone section which includes Aboriginal meditations and stories of land and place – an intriguing selection from across the ditch that explore themes of migration and belonging, relationships and understanding.

Show Me Shorts delivers an array of different sessions to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. A smaller, specially-curated selection plays at more than 30 cinemas and community venues across the country, and as far away as Scott Base in Antarctica.

While Show Me Shorts is first and foremost an in-cinema experience, with the ability to go ahead in Alert Level 2.0 (with restrictions on numbers in the cinemas), this year there are also three online programmes – an online Sampler, an online kids’ and family programme, and a boundary-pushing Weird and Wonderful online package.

Built on a special viewing platform created by Hamilton-based Shift 72, whose platform has been adopted by film festivals across the world, tickets for the online sessions are priced from $10.

“By making a selection of the films available online, we hope to bring these unique stories to more Kiwis in far-flung parts of Aotearoa, as well as those who are at home. We are committed to supporting our cinemas, so, wherever possible we recommend seeing the films in their native environment on the big screen,” Farry says.

Show Me Shorts is an Oscar-accredited film festival, meaning the winners of the top two awards, Department of Post Best New Zealand Film and Best International Film, will become qualified to enter the Academy Awards.

The 2021 festival awards night – at which the eight coveted major prizes will be presented – will take place at on Sunday 3 October at Rialto Cinemas Newmarket.

Full dates and locations are here.

The nine themed sections of the programme are:

  1. The Sampler features local and international shorts of wide general appeal.

  2. Whānau Friendly has shorts that have been selected with children and families in mind.

  3. Love and Chaos has stories about characters who are in search of or expressing their love.

  4. Australian Focus features stories exploring the lives and perspectives of diverse Australians.

  5. Crossed Wires captures stories of mistake and miscommunication in all its guises.

  6. Identity Crisis includes shorts challenging our images of ourselves and others.

  7. Online Sampler includes a bumper selection of tense drama and slice of life tales.

  8. Online Family Pack brings a colourful selection of treats for whānau viewing.

  9. Weird and Wonderful Online is a vibrant collection of real life and animation shorts exploring the wacky imagination at the edges of filmmaking. 
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