What's been a remarkable year in New Zealand feature films is being reflected in the tight competition for the New Zealand Film Awards, announced today.

The awards - sponsored by the Rialto Channel and known as the "Moas" - are dominated this year by te reo action film The Dead Lands and acclaimed drama The Dark Horse with 14 and 13 nominations respectively.

They film are vying in the best film and best director categorieswith comedy horror Housebound, Auckland underworld saga The Last Saint and child abduction drama Everything We Loved.

A notable absence from the top awards are Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's local box office hit, the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. Though the film has picked up eight nominations including a consolatory nod for "best self-funded feature", if nothing else for its star leading pair.


Predictably, Cliff Curtis is a leading contender in the best actor category for his performance as bipolar chess champ Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse which also won double supporting actor nods for Boy star James Rolleston and newcomer Wayne Hapi.

Nominated for this leading role as a young warrior in The Dead Lands, Rolleston is also up against Curtis in the best actor category too.

And in the supporting actor race, Rolleston faces his stiffest competition from his Dead Lands castmate Lawrence Makoare.

The Dead Lands effectively pips The Dark Horse's total by having a nod in the "best poster design" category, one of the quirks of the independent awards instigated by local film stalwart Ant Timpson (also a producer on Housebound) and nzherald.co.nz's Hugh Sundae in 2012 after local television awards ditched the movie categories.

The films are judged by an independent international panel of award-winners in each of the disciplines, assembled by Film Market producer Stephanie Trepanier.

The Moas do have a television element with its best television feature category featuring the best of the New Zealand On Air Platinum fund productions which screened on TVNZ and include mix of documentaries and dramatizations on non-fiction subjects.

Of the telefeature nominees, Erebus: Operation Overdue about the police mission to recover the bodies from the 1979 Air New Zealand crash in the Antarctic is also a leading contender in the Moas' documentary categories where it's up against Hip Hop-eration, the feelgood hit about a senior citizen breakdancing crew.

A dominant force in this year's awards seems to be former Shortland Street stars - and not just as actors.


As a producer, former Streeter Tom Hern has two best picture nominations for Everything We Loved and The Dark Horse - the latter of which was directed and written by former castmate James Napier Robertson, also a double nominee.

Rene Naufahu, whose screen career started as an ambulance driver on the soap, is also up for directing and writing The Last Saint, his debut feature which he battled for years to get funded and made.

The Moas will be given out at an event in Auckland on Friday December 12, and will be live streamed on NZ Herald Online, and later broadcast on Rialto Channel.

Here's the full finalist list ...


Rialto Channel Best Film

Everything We Loved


The Dark Horse

The Dead Lands

The Last Saint

Flying Fish Best Director
Max Currie (Everything We Loved)
Gerard Johnstone (Housebound)
James Napier-Robertson (The Dark Horse)
Toa Fraser (The Dead Lands)
Rene Naufahu (The Last Saint)

Peter Yealands Wines Best Actor
Matt Whelan (3 Mile Limit)
Nathan Meister (Realiti)
Cliff Curtis (The Dark Horse)
James Rolleston (The Dead Lands)
Beulah Koale (The Last Saint)

Peter Yealands Wines Best Actress
Sia Trokenheim (Everything We Loved)
Morgana O'Reilly (Housebound)
Michelle Langstone (Realiti)
Joy Vaele (The Last Saint)
Antonia Prebble (The Cure)

Te Whanau O Waipareira Best Supporting Actor
James Rolleston (The Dark Horse)
Wayne Hapi (The Dark Horse)
Leighton Cardno (Jake)
Lawrence Makoare (The Dead Lands)
Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows)

Manukau Urban Maori Authority Best Supporting Actress
Raukura Turei (The Dead Lands)
Sophia Huybens (The Last Saint)
Vanessa Rare (The Z-Nail Gang)
Jackie van Beek (What We Do in the Shadows)
Rima Te Wiata (Housebound)

Best Screenplay
Max Currie (Everything We Loved)
Chad Taylor (Realiti)
James Napier-Robertson (The Dark Horse)
Glenn Standring (The Dead Lands)
Rene Naufahu (The Last Saint)

Park Road Post Best Self Funded Film
3 Mile Limit
The Z-Nail Gang
What We Do in the Shadows

NZOnAir Best Television Feature
Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story
Erebus: Operation Overdue
The Kick
Field Punishment No 1
Pirates of the Airwaves

MAC Best Makeup Design
Jacinta Driver (Housebound)
Brae Toia and Julie Clark (I Survived a Zombie Holocaust)
Jane O'Kane (The Dark Horse)
Davina Lamont (The Dead Lands)
Dannelle Satherly (What We Do in the Shadows)

Best Costume Design
Lissy Patterson (Housebound)
Gabrielle Stevenson (The Cure)
Kristin Seth (The Dark Horse)
Barbara Darragh (The Dead Lands)
Amanda Neale (What We Do in the Shadows)

Images & Sound Best Visual Effects
Peter McCully (3 Mile Limit)
Matthew Westbrooke (Housebound)
Sam Scott (I Survived a Zombie Holocaust)
George Zwier (The Dead Lands)
Stan Alley (What We Do in the Shadows)

Bigpop Studios Best Sound
Ben Sinclair, Chris Todd (Erewhon)
Franklin Road Sound Post Production (Housebound)
Chris Todd, Nick Buckton, Pete Smith, Tim Chaproniere, Fred Enholmer (The Dark Horse)
James Hayday, Lee Herrick, Sven Taits and Adam Martin (The Dead Lands)
Simon Riley, Mike Hedges and Tim Chaproniere (What We Do in the Shadows)

Bigpop Studios Best Score
Tom Mcleod (3 Mile Limit)
Rachel Shearer (Erewhon)
Victoria Kelly (Realiti)
Dana Lund (The Dark Horse)
Don McGlashan (The Dead Lands)

Mandy VFX Best Editor
Dan Kircher (Everything We Loved)
Cushla Dillon (Orphans & Kingdoms)
Peter Roberts (The Dark Horse)
Dan Kircher (The Dead Lands)
Eric de Beus (The Last Saint)

Tommy & James Best Production Design
Jane Bucknell & Anya Whitlock (Housebound)
Kim Sinclair (The Dark Horse)
Grant Major (The Dead Lands)
Brant Fraser (The Last Saint)
Ra Vincent (What We Do in the Shadows)

Queenstown Camera ARRI Best Cinematography
DJ Stipsen (3 Mile Limit)
Dave Garbett (Everything We Loved)
Simon Riera (Housebound)
Simon Raby (Orphans & Kingdoms)
Denson Baker (The Dark Horse)

Letterboxd Best Poster Design
Kirk Bremner, Luke Bremner (A Motel and a Hard Place)
Rene Naufahu & Farani Jnr (The Last Saint)
Alastair Tye Samson, Doug Dillaman & Lucas Brooking (Jake)
Andrejs Skuja, Johnny Lyon (Housebound)
Jeremy Saunders (The Dead Lands)


Best Documentary

Erebus: Operation Overdue

Voices of the Land Nga Reo o te Whenua

Hip Hop-eration

Cap Bocage

Hot Air

Vendetta Films Best Documentary Director
Peter Burger, & Charlotte Purdy (Erebus: Operation Overdue)
Paul Wolffram (Voices of the Land - Nga Reo o te Whenua)
Bryn Evans (Hip Hop-eration)
Jim Marbrook (Cap Bocage)
Gerard Smyth (Aunty and the Star People)

Lotech Best Documentary Editor
Simon Coldrick (Erebus: Operation Overdue)
Annie Collins (Voices of the Land - Nga Reo o te Whenua) Peter Roberts (Hip Hop-eration)
Jim Marbrook and Prisca Bouchet (Cap Bocage)
Abi King-Jones (Hot Air)

NZ Broadcasting School at CPIT Best Documentary Cinematography
Toby Ricketts (Manila - No Limitations)
Alun Bollinger and Luke Frater (Voices of the Land - Nga Reo o te Whenua)
Bevan Crothers (Hip Hop-eration)
James Ellis, Dave Perry (Into the Void)
Gerard Smyth & Jacob Bryant (Aunty and the Star People)

Lotech Best Documentary Editor
Simon Coldrick (Erebus: Operation Overdue)
Annie Collins (Voices of the Land - Nga Reo o te Whenua)
Peter Roberts (Hip Hop-eration)
Jim Marbrook and Prisca Bouchet (Cap Bocage)
Abi King-Jones (Hot Air)


Canon Best Short Film


Ross & Beth

The Tide Keeper

The Keeper


Halcyon Digital Best Self-Funded Short Film
Mi Amigo Mandarina
The Last Night
Over the Moon
A Lesson On Probability

Actors Agents Association of New Zealand Best Best Short Film Actor
John Clarke (Ross & Beth)
Charlie Bleakley (Coconut)
Alan James Drum-Garcia (Mi Amigo Mandarina)
Cohen Holloway (The Last Night)
Elliot Travers (Mis-Drop)

Actors Agents Association of New Zealand Best Best Short Film Actress
Anna Jullienne (Over The Moon)
Tahei Simpson (Home)
Phoebe McLeod (Snip)
Morgan Albrecht (After Wonderland)
Hayley Sproull (School Night)

PLS Best Cinematography in a Short Film
Grant McKinnon (Ross & Beth)
Ben Montgomery, Chris Pryor (The Tide Keeper)
Germain McMicking (The Keeper)
Ian McCarroll (Whisker)
Mathew Knight (The Last Night)

NZ Herald Online - Best Short Film Script
Alyx Duncan (The Tide Keeper)
Charlie Bleakley & Cohen Holloway (Coconut)
Kate Prior (Eleven)
Tom Furniss (Mi Amigo Mandarina)
Hamish Bennett (Ross & Beth)

- nzherald.co.nz