The launch of an international film festival in Tauranga has been so successful, its American founder is promising a return with VIPs for next year's event.

The International Youth Silent Film Festival was held at Baycourt Theatre on Friday and Saturday, screening 36 films from throughout New Zealand.

American Jon Palanuk founded the festival in 2009 and was blown away at the quality of entries showcased at Saturday's event. He is also the president of the festival's board.

''I was surprised. Normally, in a launch year, usually a lot of people don't know about it because it's just its first year. The attendance can be small because people just don't know about it yet, people still finding their way a little.


''But there was a great crowd and beautiful film work and ability of these excited young film makers.''

A horror flick titled An Homage created by students of Christchurch's New Zealand School of Broadcasting won the $1000 prize.

In second place was a film by Tauranga Girls College students Tina Jeong and Nathalia Luna Sanz called The Other Side of the Mirror.

A sci-fi movie called Stop the Clock created by students from Invercargill's James Hargest College tied in third equal position with western film Trouble in the West by 10-year-old Liam Davison who entered independently, together with Katikati College students Emily Davison and Jack Davison.

''These film makers in New Zealand are getting extraordinarily technical. Their processes, their camera angles, the over all digital story telling is really some of the best work we've seen.

''You are always going to have some really great films anywhere you go around the work but some of these films last night were incredible.''

Mr Palanuk said he was already looking forward to coming back next year, with some VIPs also from the United States.

Baycourt manager Megan Peacock-Coyle said she was pleased at the success of the event, especially as the team have been trying to get more youth involved in the theatre's events.

''We thought we would get 10 to 12 entries. We got over 40,'' she said.

Ms Peacock-Coyle said they brought the event to Tauranga to help develop the theatre's offerings for youth. She hoped to incorporate film making workshops into next year's event, she said.

Those who placed in the event will compete in the international competition held in Portland, Oregon, United States in June 2017.

What is the International Youth Silent Film Festival?

The International Youth Silent Film Festival is an initiative for students aged 20 and under, invited to create a three-minute silent film - set to a musical score the filmmakers choose from a list of ten original compositions composed fro the festival.