Ten Kiwi films - six features and four short films - have been chosen to screen at a biennial showcase of New Zealand cinema in China, estimated to reach more than 10,000 people in its 42 screenings.

The 2016 New Zealand Film Festival China had its opening night in Beijing on Wednesday, and will run until tomorrow before travelling to Qidong City in Jiangsu Province and finishing in Shenzhen City in Quangdong Province at the end of May.

This is the eighth time it has been held since it began in 2002 with previous events being broadcast extensively on the CCTV-movie channel reaching an estimated 1.4 billion viewers.

The films include Orphans and Kingdoms, The Ground We Won, Letter of Hope and Ever the Land and were chosen by the China Film Bureau with the NZ Film Commission and festival co-ordinator Jim He.


"The festival provides additional exposure for these films, many of which have won selection to other International festivals," He said.

"More importantly, [it] helps boost New Zealand's profile in the largest potential market for New Zealand's film and digital entertainment sector."

Michael Stephens, Wellington film and entertainment lawyer and honorary festival adviser, said the selection reflected the increasingly well-known Kiwi film industry.

"The standard of the films chosen this year reflects great credit on all the directors, producers and cast and crew involved," Stephens said.

"Without exception, they've produced great cinema on often very limited budgets. Winning selection to the New Zealand Film Festival in China is testimony to the growing reputation of our independent film makers and the New Zealand film industry overseas."

Employment for the young

Seventeen Auckland businesses including Yellow, Sky TV, Griffins and Bunnings have pledged to employ more of the city's young people, in an event at The Warehouse head office training centre last week.

Statistics NZ data shows one in five young Aucklanders are not in employment, education or training. The Youth Employer Pledge is a key initiative in Auckland's youth employment plan to combat this.

Yellow chief executive Michael Boersen said Yellow was already trying to do this, but said the new plan would help. "With over 15 per cent of our team falling into the 16-to-25 age-group already, we're proud to connect with and give more talented young adults a head start," Boersen said.

Mayor Len Brown said the event and initiative were significant milestones for the Youth Employment Plan and meant employers were getting more of Auckland's younger talent into work and career pathways.

Orphans and Kingdoms is one of the 10 Kiwi films being showcased in the 2016 New Zealand Film Festival China.
Orphans and Kingdoms is one of the 10 Kiwi films being showcased in the 2016 New Zealand Film Festival China.

Microsoft spends up

Several Kiwi computer science organisations and programmes have been given a boost from Microsoft.

The US-based computer giant last week donated $625,000 in cash and software to OMGTech and High Tech Network. The grants will help provide computer coding, programming and software design and development training. High Tech Network said it would use the funding to support industry training and education for Maori and Pasifika youth while OMGTech plans to use its grant to run an eight-week programme for girls.

OMGTech founder Michelle Dickinson said the grant would go a long way towards helping OMGTech reach its goal.

"We know that diversity is linked to greater financial success in business and so this grant will enable us to educate and empower under-represented groups and showcase exciting career options for New Zealand's next generation," she said.

Mike Usmar, the chief executive of High Tech Network, said the grant would enable students in lower decile schools to gain NZQA and industry credentials they might otherwise have missed out on. Computer science education was important for several reasons and often helped with the development of other skills.

"Computer science education is not just about technology," Usmar said. "It helps develop valuable transferable skills for young people, such as design thinking, working in a project team or self-directed project development.

"[It also develops] critical competencies around collaborative problem-solving skills, not only with young people from their immediate community but with over 3500 youth across the wider network."

The grant from Microsoft New Zealand coincides with those made last week by Microsoft Philanthropies, which announced grants and partnerships with 89 non-profit partners across 35 countries.

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