A short film made by Auckland-based students was one of the success stories of 2017 for Unitec’s Performing and Screen Arts programme.

Waiting, written by Samuel Kamu and directed by Amberley Jo Aumua, was selected for the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last September making it the first New Zealand student film to ever screen at the world-acclaimed festival.

The film also won Best Short at the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) in August. It was the second year in a row that a Unitec graduate had taken out that honour after 2011 grad Yamin Tun’s film Wait, won in 2016.

Samuel and Amberley Jo are graduates of Unitec’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts degree from 2016. Amberley Jo studied directing in the Screen Arts programme while Samuel came from the acting program.

Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Head of Unitec’s Creative Industries, was delighted by the film’s success. “Creative Industries at Unitec are thrilled to have this student-made short film selected for one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world,” she said. “Waiting is a beautifully made short film that brings to the surface small acts of hope and heartbreak in a seemingly every day setting.

“Writer Samuel Kamu and Director Amberley Jo Aumua and team are great examples of the brave filmmaking talent we’re nurturing at Unitec,” Dr Byrnes added. Amberley Jo said, “I’m stoked and proud for our cast and crew to be recognised on an international level at TIFF. This is definitely a momentous occasion for all of us.”

A scene in ‘Waiting’

Inspiration for Waiting came from Samuel’s West Auckland childhood and days spent outside the dairy — “a hangout place where the world didn’t matter.” It is a story of the importance of brotherhood, friendship and family. First-time director Amberley Jo says the film, creatively driven, gives audiences a glimpse into a world to which she too naturally gravitates. She worked closely with fellow student and script writer Sam, to create a strong, clean sense of realism which caught the eye of the selector.

Do you have interest in making films? At Unitec you can learn to direct, write, shoot, sound design, edit and produce at New Zealand’s largest fully integrated Performing and Screen Arts school. Find out more about studying Screen Arts at Unitec here.