A last-minute fundraising drive by film industry players has saved the 2003 New Zealand Film Awards, it was announced yesterday.

The awards were originally to be presented by the Academy of Film and Television Arts, but it announced it was unable to go ahead with the event.

Since then, a group of industry participants - led by the New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise - have come up with the money to stage the awards.

An awards presentation (on a smaller scale than originally planned) will be held in Auckland on December 8.

Two independent juries have been meeting this week in Wellington to select finalists in 24 categories.

Seven feature films, six digital features and 19 short films have been entered in the competition.

Film Commission former marketing director Lindsay Shelton has been appointed as a consultant to oversee the event.

The chief executive of the Film Commission, Ruth Harley, said industry sponsors were all proud to have played a part in ensuring the awards will go ahead.

"The awards will ensure that achievements in all categories will be recognised."

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Dame Cheryll Sotheran said the industry was "a significant generator of economic activity and foreign exchange".

"NZTE is committed to helping the industry achieve its international potential."

- NZPA