SAE student’s film takes part in UK film festival

SAE Creative Media Institute students Nicole Chen (left) and Donna Kavanagh (right)

It’s always exciting when a Kiwi has their work shown on a global scale, but it’s even more impressive when a Kiwi student is given the opportunity to have their work seen outside of New Zealand borders. And that’s exactly what’s happened for SAE Creative Media Institute Bachelor of Film Arts student Nicole Chen, who has been invited to show her short film Jianjie at the inaugural Norwich Radical Film Festival in the UK.

The festival runs from August 26–28, and is all about supporting and showcasing filmmakers from around the world who have created works that are politically subversive, unique in form, and challenge the status quo. Jianjie is Chen’s first short film, and she produced, directed, and acted in the film as part of her Diploma in Filmmaking at SAE in 2015.

She says, “I wanted a poetic way of expressing the clash of cultures, and to express feelings of loneliness [that] immigrants have. It’s about people who are not born in the west but carry a strong Asian background and are trying to find an identity in the west.”

Another SAE student, Donna Kavanagh, was involved in the composition of the film’s music — she’s studying towards her Bachelor of Recording Arts. Kavanagh says, “It took awhile to find the inspiration — eventually I played a piano piece for Nicole that I wrote [when I was] 16 years old, but hadn’t finished. I never recorded it — it was too emotional. But 20 years later, I finished it, and recorded it for this film.”

SAE Auckland Campus Manager Dr Suzette Major says the institute is very proud of the two students, as well as saying that “[being] accepted into an international film festival whilst still completing your degree is exceptional. It demonstrates that high level that our SAE students are working at. We are super proud of what Nicole has achieved, and thrilled that other SAE students, including Donna, were involved.”