Actor Jeffrey Thomas plays grumpy old man, Russ, in the short film, Walk A Mile.
A lost donkey, a stolen moon buggy and a reluctant gnome are just some of the quirky themes found in a short film festival heading to Nelson.
Show Me Shorts is taking The Sampler screening to the Suter theatre, showing the best eight films of the festival. It is a diverse selection that includes documentary, drama, thriller and comedy.
Festival director Gina Dellabarca said more than 2000 entries for the festival were received from around the world, which were whittled down to just 63 to be presented around the country.
She said one of the great things about watching short films was being made aware of the “really talented New Zealand filmmakers”.
“You get to follow their career a little bit and see where they go.”
One of the films in The Sampler, Walk A Mile, was written and directed by Judith Cowley who lived in Nelson for 12 years of her adult life before leaving six years ago.
Cowley’s first foray into film making is already successful, bagging Best Screenplay award in the festival.
Walk A Mile is a story about the redemption of Russ, a grumpy old man, who lives next door to a noisy Samoan family.
“Russ is irritated by everything … and he hates them. But when something happens to that family, he feels a real need to reach out to them.”
Despite the film being shot in Lower Hutt, she said when she wrote the story, she visualised it in Nelson.
“The Samoan family did remind me of a family I worked with in Nelson who honestly worked so hard – mother working all night, father working all day, just to pay the rent. I wanted to show that side of the family, a very loving family to contrast with Russ.”
The inspiration for the film came from Cowley’s own life experience when she and her husband went through the grief of losing a baby 30 years ago.
“The outpouring of help and kindness was amazing when that happened to us… I noticed that strangers who didn’t know us offered to do acts of kindness.”
The 16 minute film took Cowley four years to make, and she nearly gave up, but her characters wouldn’t let her.
She said when she asked Russ what she should do, he replied, “Have you always been a quitter?”
“It made me so mad.”
Then she asked Gary, the 11-year-old Samoan character what she should do, and he was in full support.
“Oh please do, it’ll be such fun.”
Cowley said the characters took over her head until the film was made.
“I was glad to get rid of Russ because he was so bossy.”