Why is National Finalist selection the murkiest part of the judging process?
So I think the vast majority of regulars were comfortable with the competition getting rid of automatic regional representation last year, and likewise we all know that the judging in this competition will always be somewhat inscrutable. But I must say that the available information around how the national finalists are picked has me a bit tempted to reach for my tinfoil hat.
The city judges are named in each city - no problem, they're always a clued up bunch. The people that judge the national finalists are always named, and they're a who's who of international film experts, no worries. But in between, apart from knowing that PJ picks 3 or 4 favourites of his to be national finalists, there seems to exist some kind of Shadowy Cabal picking the non-wildcard national finalists.
All that the info on the website says about it is this:
(1) The Best Shorts from Around the country become the Final Pool.
(2) From this final pool the Grand Finalists are Chosen to compete in the Grand Final along with PJs Wildcards (note: City Winners do not automatically make the Grand Final)
If it stands to reason that the city judges pick a few likely candidates from their city to send up the chain to complete step 1, who receives these films and completes step 2?
I'm not suggesting that these people, whoever they are, are not also the highly clued-up experts we have come to see judging city winners and nationals. I also expect that they're totally impartial. But it strikes me as rather odd that we don't get to know who they are. The only reason I can think of to NOT name them (in the same way that we hear who the city and grand winner judges are) is that there's something somehow controversial (or at least that seems controversial) about who performs this stage of judging.
2016: DOWN TO THE WIRE & WINDOWS
2015: THE SILENT MAN
2014: Christchurch City Judge
2013: QUARRELSOME HEAT
2012: NICKY + EVE 19/5
2011: BAND OF BULLIES
2010: I AM SINGLE
2009: NEW FISH
2007: PAINKILLER: THE SICK SENSE
2006: WORM FLU AND YOU