Six short films have been selected as the finalists in the inaugural New Zealand International Film Festival Best Short Film Competition.

The guest selector, director Roger Donaldson, chose the six finalists from a shortlist of 12, decided by festival programmers Bill Gosden and Michael McDonnell from 109 submissions.

Festival audiences will be asked to choose a winner by rating all six.

A jury of three will select the winners of the $5000 Madman Entertainment Jury Prize and the $3000 Friends of the Civic Award. The winner of the Audience Vote in Auckland and Wellington takes away 25 per cent of the box office from the festival screenings.


The finalists are:

43,000 Feet
Director: Campbell Hooper
What: With several minutes before he hits the ground, a falling man reflects on his past and his immediate future.
Donaldson says: "Great photography. Very original framing and concept."

Ellen Is Leaving
Director: Michelle Savill
What: Ellen is cool. She is recycling stuff before she heads overseas.
Donaldson says: "I love how original it feels. The details of the travel pack put a real smile on my face."

Director: Thomas Gleeson
What: We watch a house take a road trip.
Donaldson says: "A beautifully photographed minimalist documentary."

Director: Sam Kelly
What: Jimmy deals drugs at school and is beaten by his mum's boyfriend. Now he must decide between self-preservation and self-sacrifice.
Donaldson says: "Really captures a tough uncompromising world in a very compelling way. I loved the central character's heroism. It reminded me of Once Were Warriors, in the best possible way."

Milk & Honey
Director: Marina Alofagia McCartney
What: This brief drama recalls the notorious dawn raids on Pasifika families.
Donaldson says: "I lived in Ponsonby in the 70s and remember the events portrayed in this film. Very poignant."

Night Shift
Director: Zia Mandviwalla
What: An airport cleaner has reason to keep to herself.
Donaldson says: "I love this story - it feels so real and packs a real wallop."

* New Zealand International Film Festival, Auckland (July 19-August 5) and Wellington (July 27-August 12). Festival programmes will be available online at and around town from June 26 in Auckland