Powerful message . . . Ryan Worth (left) and Angelo Bush (both 14) won the Stronger Waitaki Respectful Relationships film competition for their film, Days of the Weak. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Ryan Worth and Angelo Bush are not masking their excitement.

The Waitaki Boys’ High School pupils won the Stronger Waitaki Respectful Relationships film competition, which was held at the Oamaru Opera House last month.

The competition involves pupils creating 90-second videos, with the theme of ‘‘respectful relationships’’.

The 14-year-olds won for their 90-second film, Days of the Weak, a play on words showing the weakness of the character throughout the film.

Their silent black-and-white film begins with a young boy getting ready for the day by removing a chair blocking his door, and shows him scared of what could happen. Every day at school he hides his bruises with make-up and then puts on his mask outside his classroom.

Ryan said the mask symbolised the character ‘‘masking his pain’’. The rest of the week repeats the same pattern, until Friday, when he breaks the cycle.

‘‘At the end he takes off the mask and stamps on the mask. The whole film’s in black and white, but then it turns into colour,’’ Angelo said.

The mask played an important role in the story, he said.

Ryan, who also acted in the film, said they enjoyed putting the movie together and it was great to win.

They each brainstormed different ideas for the film and merged them together. Ryan came up with the school cycle, while Angelo had the mask idea.

Ryan said creating the videos helped them learn more about family and domestic violence.

‘‘It showed us how strongly people can feel towards domestic violence and how serious people take it.’’

Angelo said it also taught them how film can be a good way to ‘‘showcase’’ people’s feelings and hard topics.

It was the first time the competition had involved a community viewing of entries.

Stronger Waitaki community development co-ordinator Yvonne Avis said it was a really successful event, with about 150 people attending.

She said the winning video was simple yet effective.

‘‘We never really know what is going on behind closed doors as people put on a good front.’’