First student film from NZ to screen at prestigious international festival

A short film by Auckland-based Unitec students has been selected to screen at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which runs from September 7-17.



Waiting, a 2016 Unitec graduate-year film written by Samuel Kamu and directed by Amberley Jo Aumua, will feature in the international line-up of the festival’s Short Cuts programme. 

It is the first New Zealand student film to ever screen at the world-acclaimed Toronto festival.


Its inclusion makes it eligible for the IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Film.


Samuel and Amberley Jo are graduates of Unitec’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts degree.


Dr Vanessa Byrnes, Head of Unitec’s Creative Industries, is delighted by the selection and says “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.”


“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,” she adds.


Director Amber Jo says she’s stoked and proud for their cast and crew to be recognised on an international level at TIFF.


“This is definitely a momentous occasion for all of us.”


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.


Waiting has also been short listed for ‘New Zealand’s Best Short’ at the New Zealand International Film Festival currently running nationwide.