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(22 February 2017)


Hamilton couple and filmmaking duo Mary Rinaldi and Sasha Nixon took home three awards at Tropfest NZ 2017 on the weekend, including Best Film.
Their film, The Anniversary, captured two grieving parents celebrating an anniversary after the passing of their child and proved to be an emotional win with the crowd, with many moved to tears.
The couple also took home the Te Tohu Ahuatanga Māori Award , a Nga Aho Whakaari and Te Puni Kokori sponsored award, recognizing outstanding Maori creativity in film with a $2,500 cash prize attached, and the Best actress award, which has a $1000 cash prize.
The New Zealand Screen Association and Motion Picture Association sponsors the winning film prize which is a return flight to Los Angeles to meet with film and TV executives and five nights’ accommodation.
Matthew Cheetham, Managing Director of the NZ Screen Association said they were thrilled to support Tropfest for a fifth year and promote the talent of NZ filmmakers. “Tropfest NZ pulled off a terrific event in 2017 – screening 16 diverse, high quality films to an appreciative crowd. The NZSA and MPA is pleased to partner with Tropfest to support a new generation of talented filmmakers as they look to share their vision with an audience, and we hope to see some of these promising careers receive a boost from this event. Congratulations to all on a highly successful festival.”
First prize also takes possession of a $10,000 cash prize, sponsored by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust.
Hineani Melbourne, Executive Director of Nga Aho Whakaari commended the films in this year’s line-up ‘What inspiring short films. I am thrilled with the talent coming through in these films. Each film was unique and of a high standard. It was a hard choice between the films, but I decided after much thought that The Anniversary, with nominee Sasha Nixon – writer/co-director, and lead Actor, was the deserving winner of the Ngā Aho Whakaari/Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Creativity Award. His overall contribution across this film was very impressive.”
Pearl, directed and produced by Simon Schueller and Steven Johnston took out the Avalon Film and TV Studio Award which includes a $10,000 studio package at their studios. Gary Watkins of Avalon film & TV Studios said the number of quality short films was excellent. “Tropfest really highlights the creativity and imagination young filmmakers of NZ have on offer, however, Pearl jumped out, literally, as the winner of our studio award on the night!”
The Tropfest winner and finalist films can be viewed on Tropfest NZ’s YouTube Channel at
The judging panel for 2017 festival included James Griffin (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Westside, Outrageous Fortune), Geraldine Brophy (Home Movie, King Kong, In My Father’s Den, Goodbye Pork Pie), Karlos Drinkwater (Shortland Street, Spartacus: Blood and Sand) and Angela Littlejohn (Show of Hands, Apron Strings and Separation City).
Best Film: The Anniversary, directed & produced by Mary Rinaldi and Sasha Nixon
2nd place: My Little Brother, directed and produced by Anthony Bennett
3rd place: High Waisted, directed and produced by Brad Davidson
Best actress: Mary Rinaldi (The Anniversary)
Best Actor: Jamaine Ross (High Waisted)
Studio Award: Pearl, directed and produced by Simon Schueller and Steven Johnston
ACG Yoobee Best animated film: Encroached, directed by Robert Stannard and produced by Kennedy Faimanifo
ACG Yoobee Best use of VFX: The Classified, directed and produced by Kirk and Luke Bremner
Pic’s Peoples Choice Award: Smoko, directed by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh and produced by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh & Samuel Christopher
About Tropfest
Tropfest began in Sydney 25 years ago when director John Polson showed a six-minute film he made for under $100 at his local café (‘The Tropicana’) in Sydney for 200 friends and family. Today, the free Australian event is attended annually by a live audience of around 150,000 film-lovers and hundreds of thousands more watching via its live national TV broadcast and other platforms.
In the past two decades, Tropfest has become recognised as one of the world’s most exciting launch pads for emerging filmmakers. Tropfest is also known for securing the support of some of the biggest names in the international film community including Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush, Liev Schreiber and Tobey Maguire. Tropfest is hosted all around the world including South East Asia, USA and Arabia.

All finalist films can be viewed at Tropfest New Zealand’s YouTube channel: The channel has had over 115,958 views.

TROPFEST NZ – The world’s largest short film festival, five years running in New Zealand.

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