University of Auckland graduate Niu Han has been invited as one of 12 film-makers to attend the prestigious Venice Biennale College - Cinema.
The Beijing-based film-maker said he was excited to share the news with those close to him.
"I received the email notification while inside the Beijing subway. I tried to call my girlfriend to tell her the good news but there was no signal inside the subway car."
The Biennale College - Cinema selects film-makers from around the world to work with international experts and tutors, exploring micro-budget film-making and new integrated models of production.
Mr Han was encouraged to enter his current project, A Most Peculiar Man, by his mentor Dr Jake Mahaffy from the university's Faculty of Arts.
The film is a love story of a woman seeking exit from the complexities of her life, and a man slowly deforming into a geometric cube.
Mr Han and his team will have the opportunity to present their film to Alberto Barbera, the director of the Venice Film Festival, with a chance of being invited for further workshops.
Up to three teams will be invited to these additional workshops and will receive €150,000 ($263,000) to complete their projects for presentation at the 73rd Venice Film Festival 2016.
Mr Han, born in Xi'an, China in 1985, was raised in New Zealand and graduated with a Master's degree in Screen Directing from the University of Auckland.
Mr Han initially wanted to become an accomplished painter but became interested in cinema when studying at the Elam School of Fine Arts.
"While I was at university I watched many great films and even took up a conjoint degree in film studies. Cinema has a charm like no other art form, I was enchanted by it and there was no turning back."
His filmography credits include feature films Freedom Hills (2010) and Land of Nobody (2014). His new project, Chinese Whispers, is in pre-production.