A series of short films is the feature of the inaugural Puanga Pictures film festival.

The festival kicked off on Friday and finishes on Sunday, showcasing a range of New Zealand, Maori and local films. There will also be talks and discussions by filmmakers.

The feature night of the film festival is July 16. At 6.30pm at the Whanganui War Memorial Hall, will screen 'Kia Ora Shorts' - highlights from this year's Wairoa Maori Film Festival.

Handpicked by WMFF director Leo Koziol, the selection includes numerous award-winners - many have screened in the NZ International Film Festival and overseas film festivals.


Some well-known faces in the Kia Ora Shorts line-up include artist/activist Tame Iti in his first acting role as a teacher in Ow What!, performance artist Mika in the opening piece Taniwha, and Miriama McDowell in Paradise Lost - a short film by WMFF co-director, Hiona Henare, who will be in attendance for the weekend.

The eight Kia Ora Shorts cover a variety of genres and subjects, from a Maori Language Sci-Fi relationship drama Tawhiti, to the WW2 love story Netta Jones, and loyalty in a woman's rugby team in Tits on a Bull.

Following the Kia Ora Shorts, Whanganui gets its time to shine at 8:15pm, with a programme by local filmmakers, and films with a connection to Whanganui, called 'Local Shorts'.

Showcasing the wealth of talent Whanganui has both in front of and behind the camera, the diverse local programme ranges in style from drama to documentary, micro animations to experimental works, and showreels to Masters works - all made by a mix of artists, film graduates and industry professionals.

Familiar Whanganui haunts such as Castlecliff beach, Patea, Raetihi and Ruapehu, and, of course the Whanganui River, will be recognisable, but these will also be joined by scenes from further afield. A Canterbury-Whanganui connection is present in H A U by Christchurch-based producer Kate Belton; Auckland is the stage for both glitter artist Stanley Manthyng's Pearl and Jharaiz Kiriona's Trop Fest-winning entry Wings; and a marketplace in Marseilles is the set for Noailles from recent Whanganui arrival, NZ born, German-raised screenwriter Ida Clay.

Entry to both the 'Kia Ora Shorts' and 'Local Shorts' programmes is by koha and they are open to the public (parental advisory for some mature content).

Puanga Pictures was co-organised by Helen Marie O'Connell, founder of the Whanganui Film Festival, and photographer Tia Huia Ranginui.

For the full programme visit the Puanga Pictures website.