Tusi Tamasese will be the Guest Selector for the New Zealand International Film Festival’s (NZIFF) New Zealand’s Best short film competition.
Six New Zealand shorts will premiere as part of NZIFF At Home — Online screening nationwide and online audiences will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite short to receive the Audience Choice Award.
Previous Guest Selectors have included Jane Campion (2019), Leon Narbey (2018), Gaylene Preston (2017), Lee Tamahori (2016), Christine Jeffs (2015), Andrew Adamson (2014), Alison Maclean (2013) and Roger Donaldson (2012).
“It’s been exciting and energising to see the talent of filmmakers creatively exploring different perspectives of life that contribute to stories of who we are and what makes us human,” Tamasese said.
Writer and director Tusi Tamasese is a pioneer of Pacific cinema with his directorial debut, The Orator (O Le Tulafale), being the first film ever to be entirely shot in Sāmoa, in the Sāmoan language and with a Sāmoan cast and story. This tale of an outsider in conflict with his community scored multiple awards at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and was New Zealand's entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 84th Academy Awards, the first time New Zealand had made a submission in that category.
Tamasese’s second feature One Thousand Ropes; a tale of family and redemption was invited to premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival and was the New Zealand entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
Born and raised in Vaimoso, Sāmoa, Tamaese moved to New Zealand at the age of 18 to study at the New Zealand Film School, Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Waikato, obtaining a Social Sciences degree and a Master of Arts degree in creative writing.
Seventy-eight submissions were received for the New Zealand’s Best competition this year with New Zealand International Film Festival Director Marten Rabarts, Head of Programming Michael McDonnell and Paris-based programmer Sandra Reid shortlisting 12 films for Tamasese to consider and select six finalists.
“Scouring the large number of submissions for the 2020 competition was thrilling as we experienced the depth and breadth of emerging talent in Aotearoa. The future of our cinema is in great hands and we're honoured to have the masterful eye of Tusi Tamasese helping us put New Zealand's best in the spotlight,” Marten Rabarts said.
The six finalists in New Zealand’s Best, along with details of this year’s awards, will be announced in late June. The New Zealand’s Best award winners will be selected by a jury and announced during NZIFF 2020. The Audience Choice Award will be selected by audience members via online voting and the film that receives the highest rating will win a 25% share of the box office takings from the New Zealand’s Best screenings.