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In praise of wild ideas

Gina in Wet Hot Beauties. Supplied.
Gina Dellabarca is the Festival Director of Show Me Shorts Film Festival.
Gina Dellabarca, MNZM shares some hard-earned insights and encouragement.


Gina Dellabarca is the Festival Director of New Zealand’s renowned Show Me Shorts Film Festival and Vice-Chair of the worldwide Short Film Conference. Gina co-founded Show Me Shorts in 2006 and drove its exponential growth. 

Following more than a decade of hard work, Gina was honoured this year as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. 

Ahead of this year's festival, we caught up with Gina and asked her for three reflections that would be golden advice for her younger self. Here is what she said:

Friendship is everything

I remember during my first year away at uni in Wellington, I tried to be friends with everyone and failed to build a single close friendship. Memories of that first summer break are especially lonely. 

After that, I learned to take the time to invest in deeper friendships and loll around enjoying them. I’ve also learnt that I don’t need to be drunk so much with friends either. It’s still fun to talk about life, philosophy, swap embarrassing childhood stories and allow yourself to be you.

When I moved to Auckland in my mid-twenties I found my urban whanau. Those friendships are the best thing in my life. But I’m lucky to have made lots of friends and connections along the way too.

I do wish I’d thought about friendship in the office when I was younger. Working with great people has made some tough situations bearable, and some amazing experiences even more enjoyable. Avoiding toxic environments is equally important. You don’t want to absorb bad habits or let others dim your light.

Gina Dellabarca is the Festival Director of Show Me Shorts Film Festival.

Tame your stress

This is a hard one because, like many other Kiwis, I suffer from anxiety. It’s not the overwhelming kind. More just a constant state of fight-or-flight readiness. Weirdly this anxiety has benefits because it results in my being a total planner and comfortable with a level of risk that most people can’t tolerate. It’s not healthy to dwell in that space all the time though.

Starting yoga was a great move for me. It’s helped me to pause and realise it’s OK to relax and enjoy life. Don’t always be planning ahead so much. Try to be in the moment a bit more. 

I wish I could tell my younger self that everything is going to work out... even the hard stuff. And to try not to be in such a rush all the time. If you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s OK to share that. Encouraged even. Lots of people feel anxious. It’s normal. Human.

Say yes to random ideas

Some of the best ideas in my life have come while I was relaxing with friends and talking shit. That includes the concept for the Show Me Shorts Film Festival, which we brainstormed up over a bottle of wine. Some days I still can’t quite believe that is my main job now - the one that pays my bills and takes me around the world in service of my mission to share short films. 

Another one of these unexpected ideas was the odd water ballet hobby, the Wet Hot Beauties, that my friends Pip and Jude came up with. Saying yes to participating in that fun randomness was a great decision that introduced me to new friends and had me getting outside of my comfort zone. Saying yes to crazy ideas will lead you to the best places!

Show Me Shorts 2019 winners:

  • Department of Post Best NZ Film: Sarah Cook & Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu for Ani
  • Best International Film: Ithaca Yixian Deng & Hao Zheng for The Chef (USA)
  • DEGNZ Best Director: Armağan Ballantyne for Hush
  • Toi Whakaari Best Actor: Margaret Sydenham for Hush
  • Final Draft Best Screenplay: Judith Cowley for Walk a Mile
  • DEGNZ Best Editor: Annie Collins for
  • Panavision Best Cinematographer: Maria Inés Manchego for Ani
  • NZ on Air Best Music Video: Alexander Gandar, Tom Augustine & Amanda Jane Robinson for One By the Venom – Finn Andrews

Find tickets and more information at

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

4 Oct 2019

The Big Idea Editor