The British Council's Alice Cabanas shares her ideas about what the new Best Documentary Short category is all about.

Ahead of tonight's Grierson Awards, Jury Chair, the British Council's Film Programme Manager Alice Cabanas shares her ideas about what the new Best Documentary Short category is all about.

"With the rapid evolution and growth of online distribution opportunities, the short form documentary is at an exciting time. Viewers are increasingly searching for and consuming short form video content online, and so short form docs no longer need to only use film festivals or more traditional distribution models to reach an audience. But with an abundance of platforms and opportunities, it’s essential to remember short doc films still need to be good films! Whether they are developed and created for an online audience or targeted to and playing the festival circuit - storytelling, originality and an artistic approach are essential to make a film stand out, and impact on the viewer in an age of abundant choice and viewing possibilities.

The quality of the final four was very high, and the variety of themes, different styles and tones make it a really interesting shortlist. The films also all vary in length – each one well-constructed and all still leaving you wanting to find out / know a bit more. The list is a real indication of how filmmakers creating short form can make a big impact in a very short amount of time – and that the films should be as long as the story needs it to be. The panel felt they were all well-crafted in terms of their length and tempos. They are all quite cinematic as well in voice and style –which made them a really good list to discuss.

The judging panel was a very enjoyable one to chair – there was a thorough discussion of each shortlisted film to begin, and following these discussions we gradually isolated the final four films to put through, always referring back to the guidance we had been given - that the panel were looking for originality, and an innovative approach to documentary filmmaking.

The winning film was a unanimous vote in line with these guidelines, which is always a nice result for a panel, as it feels like everyone is championing and celebrating the same filmmaker. But all four films were an impressive illustration of what’s being made right now, and also some names to watch out for in documentary filmmaking."

Published: 5 November 2017

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