A 12-minute feature about a young girl trapped in a mangrove swamp has won the best New Zealand film award at a festival of short films in Wellington.

Watermark, by director Damon Fepulea'i, was honoured at the fourth annual Drifting Clouds International Short Film Festival, which featured nine New Zealand finalists (from 85 entries).

Watermark also took awards for best actress (Olivia Tennent) and best cinematography (Reece Duncan).

It has been shown at festivals in Cannes, Paris and Rotterdam. Director Fepulea'i receives $25,000 of film product and equipment.