You are here:

Kiwi Shorts at Cannes

Curated by the NZ On Screen Team
13th May 2011

 Kiwi Shorts at Cannes

Kiwi Shorts at Cannes

 NZ On Screen Team

Curated by the NZ On Screen Team


Successful Stubbies

From Campion’s Peel and Maclean’s Kitchen Sink to Albiston and Sutherland’s Six Dollar Fifty Man, NZ short films have been exceptionally successful at Europe’s most prestigious film festival. This collection of 27 films showcases Kiwi shorts that have graced the famous Palais red carpet — the largest tally from any country outside of France.


In Competition


Michael is a 17-year-old who gets the abattoir blues during his first day at 'the works' in Meathead, selected for Cannes 2011. Based on the true story of a mate of his, director Sam Holst’s debut also won the Crystal Bear in the Generation (14plus) section of the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.

 The Six Dollar Fifty Man

Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland’s tale of a gutsy outsider’s playground trials and superhero triumphs was a breakout festival hit: amongst a haul of awards it collected in its brown satchel were a Sundance win and special distinction at Cannes, on the heels of a runner-up prize for Run.

 Lars and Peter

This short is about a Dad and two sons who are rudderless in suburbia following the death of their wife/mother. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Lars, Daniel Borgman’s tender exploration of the murkiness of grief and adjustment saw it selected for Cannes in 2009, alongside Six Dollar Fifty Man.


Run tells the tale of a Samoan brother and sister rising up against their over-protective solo father. Like follow-up short The Six Dollar Fifty Man it was inspired by Albiston and Sutherland’s experiences growing up on the Kapiti Coast. It was awarded a jury prize at Cannes (2007).

 Nature's Way

A girl is murdered and her body dumped in the forest. Nature's Way explores the mind of a murderer who thinks he's gotten away with it. In Jane Shearer's haunting exploration of utu at the suburban fringe, the dense native bush acts as witness passing down its judgement on the killer.

 Nothing Special

Written by Helena Brooks and comedian Jaquie Brown, Nothing Special could be seen as a cautionary tale: it's good to love your son, but not so good to think he's Jesus reincarnate. Featuring a Blerta soundtrack and Alison Routledge as the overzealous Mum, the short competed at Cannes 2005.


Set in a small New Zealand town, Closer is the story of a deaf teenage boy trying to come to terms with the death of his older sister. Directed by David Rittey, and co-written with poet Therese Lloyd, it won Best Short Film and Performance at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards and went to Cannes in 2004.


In James Cunningham’s “digital action thriller” a mutant three-fingered hand attempts a brash virtual heist, seeking to wipe a student loan debt in a government databank. Infection’s fast-paced action, humour, and (then) state-of-the-art 3D CGI rendering saw it selected for Cannes, and Sundance.

 This Film is a Dog

This black and white tale follows canine filmmaker Quinn Hud to the dog-eat-dog world of the Cannes Film Festival to sell his latest work. Flying Nun music video veteran director Jonathan Ogilvie shot the Super 8 footage for this witty Tropfest winner when his short Despondent Divorcee screened at Cannes 1995.

 The Beach

While husbands and children occupy themselves during a hot day at the beach, Margie (Donogh Rees) discovers a terrible secret about her friend Anne (Elizabeth Hawthorne). Margie’s explosive reaction shatters the summer languor in Dorthe Scheffmann’s Cannes and Telluride festival selection.

 Despondent Divorcee

Jonathan Ogilvie's ingenious short is a series of close-ups of an intriguing photo, overdubbed with a beguiling film noir-styled narration. It brilliantly channels the chill detachment the photographer must have had in order to get such a shot; the short screened at Cannes in 1995.

 Lemming Aid

Short supremo Grant Lahood calls on a highly accomplished cast to tell his darkly humorous tale of culture clash between a Norwegian adventure tourist and Kiwi animal rights activists, trying to save lemmings from their supposedly mass suicidal urges. It was runner-up for the Palme d’Or at Cannes 1994.

 Sure to Rise

While beachcombing, April (Hester Joyce) discovers an injured parachutist (Joel Tobeck) and claims him as her own. She must keep him a secret, and alive, in a makeshift community called Paradise. Directed by Niki Caro and shot by Simon Raby, the film competed alongside Lemming Aid at Cannes 1994.

 Lenny Minute One

Off his own bat, Ilam art student Glenn Standring got his third-year short into competition at Cannes. The minimal plot — hipster private eye Lenny Minute dryly narrates, before facing his nemesis, a rampaging blue “sheila doll” — allows him to conjure up a distinctive collage-styled Americana cityscape.

 The Singing Trophy

A hunter heads home, to add his latest catch to an extensive wall of animal trophies. But things do not go to plan: with a pesky mouse loose, the chase is on. Grant Lahood’s third short received a special technical award at Cannes and won best short at the 1993 NZ Film and Television Awards.

 Kitchen Sink

Director Alison Maclean's surreal black and white suburban nightmare follows a home alone woman (Theresa Healey) who struggles with a disturbing new arrival. Kitchen Sink debuted in Cannes in 1989 and won multiple awards worldwide. It is arguably the most successful short film to come from NZ.


A father attempts to discipline his son for throwing orange peel out the car window; so begins a domestic intrigue of “awesome belligerence.” Jane Campion’s gingernuts road trip won the Palme d'Or in 1986, making her the first woman (and only New Zealander) to achieve short film’s highest honour.

Critics' Week


Blue tells the story of a fallen kids’ TV mascot reduced to working as a waiter in an Asian restaurant. 'Blue' keeps his happy face on as he serves customers food; one day bad news arrives. Korean-born Stephen Kang’s urban alienation themed-film was awarded best short at Cannes Critics' Week 2011.


Shy Ricky and extrovert misfit Telly, slip out into the night and commandeer Ricky's father's fishing boat. Shot in the fishing village of Ngawi, Peter Salmon's Fog palpably highlights the cultural trinity of the NZ small town: oppression, boredom and sex. It was selected for Critics' Week in 2007.

 Turangawaewae / A Place to Stand

Tiare (Wi Kuki Kaa) is a Vietnam War veteran who is dislocated by his war experience and homeless. This moving story about a man jolted to find his turangawaewae (place to stand), and the whānau that helps him get there, was directed by Peter Burger and selected for Critics’ Week in 2003.


In Michael Bennett's surreal Cow, two old men (screen legends Ian Mune and Martyn Sanderson) are adrift in the ocean, a placid Friesian cow in tow, when a guitar duet escalates to a duel. It won Best Short Film Script at the NZ Film Awards and was selected for Cannes Critics’ Week and Valladolid.

 Planet Man

Tim Balme narrates this tale of a dystopian future where all the women have disappeared. The film noir stylings, Blade Runner climate and hard-boiled dialogue come to the fore when he encounters a beautiful woman (Katie Wolfe). Andrew Bancroft’s short was judged best short in Critics' Week, 1996.

Un Certain Regard

 Mon Desir

Beneath her twinset, repressed housewife Gwyneth (Mandy McMullin) is close to the edge: of attacking the dishwasher, and giving in to lust (thanks to neighbour Kevin Smith); especially so after learning hubbie has done the dirty on her. Based on a Fiona Farrell story, it was chosen for Un Certain Regard in 1992.

1994 Kiwi Short Film Special Season

 Eau de la Vie

In the short film debut from Simon Baré, newly promoted Catherine (Kirsty Hamilton) is taken to an opulent restaurant by her bosses. The evening’s amoral entertainment utterly challenges her (and makes grim Greenaway-esque irony of the title) in this Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival prize-winner.


Christine Jeffs made her directing debut with this lushly synchronised short. Lone swimmer Dorothy (Fiona Samuel) has her solitude vanquished by a squad of increasingly oppressive swimmers. Stroke was invited to Sundance; and Jeffs went on to direct feature films Rain and Sunshine Cleaning.

 A Game with No Rules

A trio of future Kiwi screen stars smoke, smoulder, steal — and worse — in Scott Reynolds' serpentine short. Kane (Marton Csokas) and his woman on the side (Danielle Cormack) set about ripping off Kane’s rich wife (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) with bloody results in the Hitchcock-inspired noir.

 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

This directorial debut for actor Michael Hurst sees Americana staples — strangers, trains, road trips, even Hank Williams — relocated to late-1953 NZ. The marriage of a salesman and his wife has ended in tears, and Hurst time travels along their separate paths to a historic railways conclusion.

 The Model

When the young beauty who has arrived to model nude before an aging painter (played by director Jonathan Brough’s father) demands to see the work in progress, and he refuses, his intentions are questioned. Based on a story by American Bernard Malamud, this understated two-hander was Brough’s second short.

 The Dig

Noel and Faith are happily retired, and while away their time excavating beneath their house; then a tremor shakes up “Dad’s excavations”. The reflective tale of finding meaning in small things was a rare screenwriting credit for author Elizabeth Knox (collaborating with director Neil Pardington).

From Kapiti Coast to Côte d'Azur

From Kapiti Coast to Côte d'Azur

Double award-winner Louis Sutherland reflects on his and Mark Albiston's Cannes success and on why NZ shorts shine there. Read >

"Frankly it's one big love-in"

Producer (Scarfies) and NZ Film Commission Short Film Manager Lisa Chatfield surveys Kiwi shorts at Cannes. Read >

Lost in the Garden of the World

Lost in the Garden of the World

Kiwi expats film interviews with future legends (Herzog, Scorsese, Speilberg, Hoffman) at Cannes 1975. Priceless. Watch >

Big Cheers

Big Cheers

Many thanks to Lisa and the short film team at the NZ Film Commission, and to the filmmakers for making this collection possible.