What: Show Me Shorts film festival
Where and when: Capitol Cinema, Balmoral to November 20
Most film festivals wait until closing night to give out the honours, but the annual local Show Me Shorts event of mini-movies kicks off with its prize-giving.
At last night's opener in Auckland, SMS awarded its major trophies to Honk If You're Horny, a flick about a cab driver telling a lurid story to his increasingly alarmed passenger.
The 12-minute film won the best actor award for veteran actor Andy Anderson as the cabbie, best director of Joe Lonie, and the best film award.
"Honk If You're Horny surprised the judges with a wild, sexy ride," said the organisers. "Every element and every creative department shines. It's good to see New Zealand's broader urban culture in the spotlight, and to give voice to such an instantly identifiable character without resorting to cliche."
Another big winner was zombie-film-with-a-difference Here Be Monsters, which won writer and co-director Nic Gorman the best screenplay award, while the film also took away best colourist and best cinematographer.
Also figuring strongly was house-moving documentary Home, which won its creator, Thomas Gleeson, the best editor and the special jury prize.
The best international film award went to Austrian film Abgestempelt (Punched) and the best student film was Blind Mice by Walter Lawry.
The winning films are among 40 shorts featuring in the next fortnight.
The annual festival is New Zealand's only Academy Award-accredited film event, meaning the best-film winner may qualify for consideration in next year's Oscar short-film nominations.
Festival director lines up favourite five must-views
Show Me Shorts film festival director Gina Dellabarca picks her favourite films of the festival.
• Walk the Light: Don't miss Michael Richards (Seinfeld's Kramer) in this. An inventive love story about a man who works inside a "walk/don't walk" traffic signal box. Light-hearted with just the right amount of zaniness.
• A Cautionary Tale: The voices of Cate Blanchett and David Wenham feature in this award-winning animation about a girl born with a tail that expresses her emotions. This film has broad appeal so you can take your kids, granny or your BFF.
• Honk if you're Horny: Andy Anderson gives a career-highlight performance as a taxi driver telling a seriously filthy story. He is so compelling you'll be hanging on to every last word. Director Joe Lonie is a talent to watch.
• Abgestempelt (Punched): Fathers and their children are a surprising recurrence this year. So much so that there is a whole section of the programme called Dad's Decision. The stand-out is this Austrian short about a father of Arabic origin travelling with his son who is harassed by the police, but still acts as a good role model.
• Dangerous Ride: This Kapiti Coast drama is about a convicted sex offender (Jed Brophy) who picks up an emotionally unstable high-hiker (Rose McIvor). The story unfolds in a way that toys with our preconceived ideas and turns them against us.