Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Prestigious UK film festival shortlists two Otago student films

Student studying on campus grounds

Tuesday 22 June 2010 10:15am

The most prestigious of all natural history festivals, WildScreen in Bristol, has selected two films produced by University of Otago Masters students as finalists for its hotly contested Newcomers Award.

Natural History Film-making students Jane Adcroft and Carla Braun-Elwert produced "Love in Cold Blood" - the dramatic tale of the 40-year “on again off again” courtship between 111 year-old Henry and 80-year-old Mildred, two tuatara who were finally caught “in the act” in their enclosure.

Science Communication students Nick Holmes and Guy Ryan produced the second film to be selected: "Carving the Future,” which profiles three passionate young New Zealanders as they lead projects driving positive social change. The film features the internationally-acclaimed environmental journalist and founder of climate action movement, Bill McKibben.

In October the four will go up against a field of first-time commercial film-makers backed by the big names of wildlife and natural history film-making, such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

The Director of the University’s Centre for Science Communication Professor Lloyd Spencer Davis is delighted the two films have been selected.

“Those outside the film industry may not realise just how prestigious this award at WildScreen is and how tough the competition is to become a finalist. To have one of our student films as a finalist in each of the last three biennial WildScreen competitions is terrific, and to have two films as finalists simultaneously is almost unbelievable,” he says.

“We are enormously proud of our students and the talent they bring to communicating science. Their films are testament that it is not the size of your budget that matters, but the story telling and the creative minds behind the camera.”

Carla Braun-Elwert believes it is the humour with which the “Love in Cold Blood” story is told that sets it apart.

“Jane and I learned a lot last year, but the great story kept us going and made the film. Of course, it’s not just our work, but the work of all the people involved in it,” she says.

“Love in Cold Blood” has just received the Best New Zealand Film and Best Emerging Film-makers awards at the Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival. It also garnered a special mention in the Best International Short Film category. “Carving the Future” won runner up for Best New Zealand Film.

Guy Ryan says it was ‘mind-blowing’ to receive the email notification of their WildScreen selection.

“We put in a mammoth effort making the film last year, with so many sleepless nights. Because “Carving the Future” is part of the global 350 movement, it already had a lot of momentum behind it that seems to be just growing and growing. Now it’s receiving these accolades. It’s quite humbling really,” he says.

Nick Holmes agrees, adding that it is a huge privilege to have the content of their film represented at WildScreen.

“It will be biggest ever representation of youth action for climate change and the 350 movement at a film festival of this class,” he says.

Carla, Jane and Guy will attend the festival. They are currently seeking sponsorship or donations to assist with attending WildScreen.

Film information and biographies

Carving the Future

A film by Guy Ryan and Nick Holmes
Experience a vision of vibrant future communities through the eyes of three passionate young New Zealanders as they lead projects driving positive social change in their regions. Carving the Future stirs hope and challenges viewers to ask themselves; What might a 350 future look like? How do we get there?
Featuring the internationally acclaimed environmental journalist and founder of Bill McKibben, Carving the Future is set to catalyse community action as the first film to be distributed through New Zealand’s first ‘Indie Screening’ model.

Guy Ryan

Originally from the West Coast of New Zealand, Guy Ryan is a filmmaker with a strong love for surfing, skating, design, marketing, and photography. Recently completing his Masters of Science Communication, Guy is now making films full time with the collective Splashroom Media, provoking positive social and environmental change.
Tel  64 27 485 0941

Nick Holmes

Originally from the East Coast of Australia, Nick is a documentary film-maker with a true passion for the natural world and a strong belief in the individual. By producing documentaries that inspire, motivate and drive positive change, and working on the ground, Nick aims to help build a regenerative future.
Tel 64 210 228 2668

Love In Cold Blood

A Film by Carla Braun-Elwert and Jane Adcroft
A risqué reptile romance in the deep south of New Zealand,
Love in Cold Blood is the twisted tale of the long-running courtship between two tuatara at the Southland Museum in Invercargill. After nearly 40 years of their on-again off-again relationship, with enough drama to rival Coronation Street, 111 year-old Henry and 80-year-old Mildred were finally caught “in the act” in their enclosure.
It’s been a long wait – especially for their lifetime keeper Lindsay Hazley. Henry and Mildred have survived rival suitors, love triangles and medical mysteries to triumph with fantastic results for the tuatara captive breeding program.

Carla Braun-Elwert

Carla Braun-Elwert is a Dunedin and Lake Tekapo-based film-maker. She has just completed a University of Otago Masters in Natural History Filmmaking. A qualified biochemist with a mountaineering background, Carla is inspired by alpine environments. After a short break ski instructing in Switzerland in early 2010, she is continuing a career as an independent film-maker, completing several commercial European projects.
Tel 64 211 732 431

Jane Adcroft

Jane Adcroft is a Dunedin based film-maker. Originally from Western Australia, Jane moved to New Zealand to study Natural History film-making at the University of Otago. She has an Honours degree in Zoology and has previously worked as an environmental consultant and zoologist in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is currently an intern at NHNZ.
Tel 64 210 222 8455


Prof Lloyd S Davis
Director of the Centre for Science Communication
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 7654
Fax 64 3 479 7584
Website: Science Communication