Cropped laurelDocumentary Films In CompetitionCropped laurel

Check out the 14 international short films that competed in the Official Selection in the Documentary category (5 - 30 minutes):


Kokoto 2Kokoto - WINNER!

24 min - Norway - 2012 | dir. Kristian Jaran Engelsen | INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

Set in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, the film follows young boxer Owino, who hopes to use his sporting prowess to one day lift himself and his family out of poverty and escape the slums. Owino is passionate and determined to suceed, but now an illness threatens his chances of success and survival.

Director Engelsen and his team took several risks in order to make the film, including nearly being robbed by a criminal gang in Kibera - the leader of which was shot and killed in Nairobi only a few days later. WINNER Best Student Film at the Norwegian Documentary Film Festival.



More than ice-cream Wong Kwong1 More Than Ice Cream - RUNNER-UP!

13 min - Hong Kong - 2012 | dir. Riley Leung

90-year-old Wong Kwong, a.k.a. Uncle Ice Cream, shares his memories and takes us through his day-to-day life selling ice cream on the streets of Hong Kong, as he has done for several decades. A portrait of a tough old Hong Kong spirit and a role model for the youth of today.

A touching film directed and self-funded by Open University of Hong Kong student Riley Leung, and WINNER of the Prize-of-Effort Award at the TBS DigiCon 6 Movie Awards.



Still KenyaBetween Two Worlds

26 min - Netherlands - 2012 | dir. Ruud Lenssen | INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

A portrait of Dutch filmmaker Marijn Poels who every year makes eight films about eight different Third World countries in crisis. We also find out what it is that makes Poels so determined to give people in the Third World a voice. The film is a story about adventure, helplessness, loneliness and risks, but above all an impressive portrait of a man who doesn't know where he belongs anymore. 

We are delighted to also be hosting Marijn Poels as our Opening Night Speaker at the festival! Come see him speak at 20:15 on Friday 5th April at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS.


MLK image 03MLK: A Living Legacy

9 min - USA - 2011 | dir. Stephen Menick | INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE 

Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world and his legacy continues to do so today. Prominent Americans detail how his work changed their lives, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, journalist Colman McCarthy and Freedom Rider Rev. Perry A. Smith.

This uplifiting documentary from Washington, D.C. based director David Pepper opened the pre-dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, before President Obama and thousands of spectators. A powerful reminder of the ongoing effects of Dr King's work on millions of people's ability to feel free.


Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 12.57.12Still

11 min - USA - 2012 | dir. Ruby Stocking, Michael Barth, Pasqual Gutierrez & José Tadeu Bijos

As society enters a new era of awareness towards environmentalism on land, much is still unknown about the sustainability of the one body that comprises over 70% of our planet: our oceans. The film dives into the life of Carlos Eyles - author, free diver, and ocean photographer - and his own thoughts on the worth of our seas.

Directed by four students from Chapman University in California, through Carlos' words and mesmerising underwater filming we learn more about the strong connection between the ocean and humankind.

Co-director José Tadeu Bijos will be taking part in the filmmakers' Q&A on Sunday 7th April.



Ditching School to Whistle still2Ditching School To Whistle

14 min - USA - 2012 | dir. Ien Chi | EUROPEAN PREMIERE

A film about Ien Chi's experiences of ditching school to compete in the International Whistling Convention. The film explores the fascinating characters who converge once a year for this truly quirky event, and their stories of discovering healing and happiness through a unique hobby that may be dismissed by most as rather silly.

Follow director Chi and producer Austin Price on their humorous and surprising journey, as they embark on a road trip to middle-of-nowhere Louisburg, North Carolina in an attempt to reinvigorate their bored high school lives. WINNER of the Best Picture Award at the Beneath The Earth Film Festival.



Gariteros movieposterGariteros: The Insecurity of Security

15 min - Argentina - 2012 | dir. Leonardo Cauteruccio | LONDON PREMIERE

Each night in their sentry boxes, the 'gariteros' provide security to the neighbourhoods they are paid to protect. With only a flashlight and mobile phone and no proper training, they work more than 14 hours a day whilst away from their families - risking their lives for minimum wage.

It all started as an essay film, an investigation, but it was after the murder of a 'garitero' that this documentary took a different course. Buenos Aires based director Cauteruccio recalls the extreme difficulty in getting the gariteros to open up to him; it took him three years to finish the film.



Foto1 2Train of Flies

14 min - Spain - 2010 | dir. Fernando Lopez Castillo & Nieves Prieto Tassier | U.K. PREMIERE

Every year 400,000 undocumented Central Americans cross Mexico, trying to reach the USA, travelling on top of cargo trains. In Veracruz, Mexico, they find a little hope: a few brave women, who have provided food and drink to the immigrants every single day for the past 15 years, risking their lives to stand at the edge of the railway tracks and pass up food and water to the immigrants as they lean down from the trains speeding past.

A truly heart-warming and eye-opening documentary which was part of the official selection for the São Paulo International Short Film Festival and the International Human Rights Film Festival.


Mel Shannon  Violet streetBeing Violet

7 min - USA - 2012 | dir. Melanie Berube | WORLD PREMIERE

Walk in the heels of a drag queen and smile! A portrait of Kyle Elmer and his drag character Violet Hart. Kyle takes us on the journey of his transformation into heels and sequins to the stage at Hamburger Mary's and the streets of downtown Portland. A film about courage, pride, and lots of glitter.

 25-year-old Canadian Melanie Berube, a student at the Art Institute of Portland, takes us on colourful journey to discover just what 'being free' means to Kyle and Violet. She recalls that, "Kyle walks faster in five-inch-heels than all the camera women in flat shoes!"



 Do Tell  Still 300 dpiDo Tell

20 min - Japan / USA - 2012 | dir. Noah DeBonis | INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

The U.S. military's Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Law was repealed in 2011. This documentary chronicles the stories of gay and lesbian service members living on a U.S. military base in Japan, their experiences serving under DADT, and how the repeal has impacted their lives today.

 An important and ultimately uplifting film, Do Tell documents the end of a lengthy period of oppression and the beginning of a new, overdue era of acceptance. The film was made by director DeBonis, who grew up on a U.S. air base in Japan, and is the WINNER of the Award of Merit at the Best Shorts Competition.



2977722Gokula: A Place On Earth For Cows

11 min - U.K. - 2011 | dir. Donna Lipowitz

In picturesque Hertfordshire we meet Syam, a Hare Krishna devotee and traditional farmer who demonstrates that a cow is not only an animal that can provide us with food, but can also be a companion. When we look into the eye of a cow, do we now see something we didn’t see before?

Filmed at the New Gokul Farm at the Bhaktivedante Manor, which was donated to the Hare Krishnas by George Harrison, London-based filmmaker Lipowitz shows not only an alternative way of farming, but also makes us think about what we truly value in life. "A superb documentary... a contemplative and honest study" [Brett Gerry].


7 min - USA - 2013 | dir. Opal Dockery | WORLD PREMIERE

A fascinating film about a woman's right to be topless in public, bringing in the larger debates concerning women's rights and gender equality, and directed by 67-year-old first-time filmmaker Opal Dockery. A story about Dockery's fight against what she perceives as discrimination against women in a very particular and contentious way.

Dockery collaborates with her film producer son Jack Truman to share her thoughts about not being able to go topless in public, in conjunction with the annual Women's Equality Day topless protest in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. An eye-opening film from the team behind the cult mockumentary hit Phone Sex Grandma.

full picture mobileInsight To Strengths

9 min - USA - 2012 | dir. Jen Ackerman | INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE

The 'strengths perspective' framework is used by social workers all over the world, to help people find the positive outcomes of their situation. This film employs the strengths perspective in order to reshape what it means to be different, featuring the local LGBT community as they sift out the strengths they have gain through their hardships.

Directed by 23-year-old social work student Jen Ackerman, at the University of Central Florida, the stories told are accompanied by a live art piece. WINNER of the First Place Award at the Enzian FilmSlam, and official selection at the Global Peace Film Festival.


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 16.02.40ThinkingAloud Series

8 min - USA - 2011 | dir. Robert Rippberger

The ThinkingAloud Series is a collection of philosophical talks and interviews with prominent thinkers from around the world. It is a provocative reflection on shared questions and dilemmas that affect us all, including the notion of what it means to be free.

In this episode, California-based director Rippberger speaks to renowned English philosopher A.C. Grayling at his London home. Grayling has written and edited over 30 books on the subject of philosophy, and is a representative to the UN Human Rights council of the International Humanist & Ethical Union.