Pupil wins global contest with short film

Daisy Thor-Poet. Photo supplied.
Daisy Thor-Poet. Photo supplied.
Step aside Peter Jackson.

Wanaka schoolgirl Daisy Thor-Poet is the latest New Zealand filmmaker to earn international accolades after winning a global competition for her short film about bereavement.

The year 11 Mount Aspiring College pupil's film Forever Emily was chosen from 650 entries from 28 countries to win the Panasonic Kid Witness News film-making competition at Unesco headquarters in Paris on Thursday.

Panasonic paid for Daisy (15) to travel to France for the awards ceremony - along with her sister Ming (13) and friend Kath Millis (16), who both starred in the film, and teacher Rachel O'Connell - after she was shortlisted for the top prize with schools from China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia and Russia.

Inspired by observations of her family dealing with her uncle's death, Daisy's film is from a teenager's point of view and took 60 hours to write, shoot and edit over 14 weekends.

''I wanted to show people that there is hope that they can still overcome grief and remember their loved ones,'' she said.

The judging panel commended Forever Emily for its carefully framed shots, attention to detail, well-written script and choice of subject matter ''that would resonate with anyone who has experienced grief''.

Daisy's father, Zeke Thor-Poet, was ''pretty proud and excited'' yesterday after receiving the news from his ''giggling like crazy'' daughter in a 6am phone call from Paris.

''To win a global recognition for New Zealand and our region, how cool is that? A pretty big achievement for 15,'' he said.

His daughter started filmmaking at age 12 and looked up to New Zealand film-maker Jane Campion's ''down-to-earth and simple'' style of work, with minimal characters and dialogue.

College principal Wayne Bosley said the school was ''absolutely blown away'' by the film's success.

''It's just so wonderful for Daisy, Ming and Kath that they've received this acknowledgment.''

The annual competition invites school pupils worldwide to create a short film with an ecology or communication theme. The selection process takes more than a year with national and world region competitions to get through to reach the global finals.

Daisy is also a New Zealand finalist in next year's competition for her most recent film Searching for Summer, and will be travelling to Bangkok in January to represent the college in the regional judging.

It is the third time she has won the New Zealand part of the competition.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz