New Zealand's only Academy Award-accredited festival, SHOW ME SHORTS Film Festival is one of the very best reminders of why I love the arts, and in particular, the medium of film. In short, short films rock. This funky little festival is getting bigger and better each year. This year (its ninth), it introduced a new music video entry category, and saw hundreds of entries roll in from around New Zealand and the globe. The talent filmmakers possess to get audiences emotionally invested in a story and its characters within ten minutes blows me away. What blows me away even more, is the passion and dedication of the Festival's Director, Gina Dellabarca. I was lucky enough to ask Gina a few questions about all things SHOW ME SHORTS.
Q: What made you first get involved in SHOW ME SHORTS – how did it all begin?
A: I’ve always loved short films, but they were difficult to find, especially if you wanted to see them on the big screen. I got talking with some friends who felt the same way, and we decided to do something about that. Then every time we mentioned it to others they liked the idea too, so it’s just grown and grown from there.
Q: Why are short films important, and why do you think people should go and see them?
A: All films are important. Their stories hold coded messages about our lives, history, culture and beliefs. Watching them is a way of finding out more about our world, who we are and what’s important to us.
Take ‘Ross & Beth’ for example – this award-winning rural cowshed drama reminds us of the importance of family, tradition, friendship and laughter.
Short films are often at the cutting edge of technology, infused by big thinkers with interesting ideas to play around with. Watching them is not only great fun, it’s also inspiring.
Q: The program this year includes a lot of fantastic work from international filmmakers. Do you notice a difference between the short films we produce in NZ versus those made overseas?
A: New Zealanders are acknowledged as one of the best short film making nations in the world. It’s been great to see how well ours stack up amongst the international entries. I often connect more at a heart-level with the local stories, because I feel like I’m part of the community they represent. But the international films in our line-up are equally impressive. There are lots of laughs among these entries this year. The animated ‘Vigia’ is proving hugely popular – a grandfather narrating a tale to his grandson about why bees are so important.
'VIGIA' won Best International Film at the festival this year. A grandfather tells a story that he invented in this delightful film: Because of pollution, pesticides, and other toxic substances, a bee decides to leave her hive, looking for a more comfortable place to live.
Q: When you are selecting films from the hundreds of entries (roughly how many did you actually get this year?!), what are you looking for to pick those final few selected films?
A: We had almost 1,000 entries this year, so the competition for places in our programme was strong. All of the shorts in our final selection had to tick multiple boxes - being cinematic, engaging, entertaining, interesting and unique. They also had to acquire at least one fan in my programming team, who would fight for it when challenged by our heated discussion process. Many acquired all of us as fans! ‘Condom’ was one of those. A sweet animation about a father forced to give his son the ‘birds and bees’ talk, when he finds a used condom at the park and wants to know what it is. The awkwardness and honesty is laugh-out-loud fun.
Q: The festival this year has a new entry category for music videos, awesome! Tell me a little bit more about that and why did you decided to include this in the festival.
A: Music videos are great, and often like mini-short films with rocking sound tracks. We wanted to acknowledge the filmmaking craft that goes into these.
'THE ROAD TO WHAKARAE' paints an affectionate portrait of a community and pays tribute to the strength of whānau (family) through Māori song.
Q: SHOW ME SHORTS has grown a lot over the last 9 years, gaining an Academy Award accreditation and a lot of high profile names becoming involved. Where would you love to see it go from here?
A: We’re really happy with how SHOW ME SHORTS has built a place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders. We knew we had made it when we got to Stewart Island! We just want to keep doing more of that – bringing increasing numbers of people together to enjoy the very best local and international shorts. And maybe a screening on the moon one day.
Q: Lastly, any words of wisdom for any aspiring short filmmakers out there?
A: You guys are my heroes. I know it’s tough out there, but we love what you do. Keep at it, and enter your films at www.showmeshorts.co.nz
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat Gina, and all the best for the festival this year and in many years to come!
Make sure you get along to see this year's awesome line up of films while they're in theatres across the country. Also, check out my WIN! page to be in to win a double pass to SHOW ME SHORTS!