Best Documentary at the BAFTA Qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Documentary film at ASFF has challenged viewers to explore the extraordinary and the everyday through a range of experimental techniques and styles. From the remote Eastern hill-country of the Wairarapa in New Zealand, to the rugged plains of Icelandic terrain, films in the documentary category have thrilled, surprised and enlightened ASFF audiences.

With our call for entries now open, we take a look back at four years of experimental and boundary-pushing documentary filmmaking from around the world. Highlights from last year include Cristina Picci’s Zima, a portrait of the world’s harshest climates in North Russia and Siberia, and Kathryn MacCorgarry Gray’s innovative docu-animation short The Wolf, the Ship and the Little Green Bag that follows the life events of three elderly women who recount their coming of age stories.

Years 1-4 Winners of Best Documentary –

1. River Dog (2011) by James Muir and Daniel Hunter was awarded Best Documentary and Overall Festival Winner in ASFF’s inaugural year. Filmed in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand, River Dog is an intimate look into a farmer’s life, and the struggle he endures to protect the river he lives by.

2. The Sugar Bowl (2011) by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. A chorus of characters takes us through the rise and fall of an island in the Philippines and its sugarcane industry. Stunning images paint a portrait of a charming place struggling with its past and trying to move into the future. The documentary was selected as Best Documentary in 2012 and also went on to win Overall Festival Winner.

3. Danger Overhead Powerlines (2013) by Mia Mullarkey. The filmmaker took home the prize for Best Documentary in 2013 for her inspirational modern day David and Goliath story. Through the use of moving testimonies, the short documents 65-year-old Teresa Treacy’s battle with the Irish Electricity Board to protect thousands of trees planted on her land, which resulted in her imprisonment in 2011.

4. Herd in Iceland (2013) by Lindsay Blatt. Recognised for its captive composition of stunning Icelandic scenery, the film was awarded Best Documentary in 2014. The short follows the annual migration of Icelandic horses, who during the summer live a remote existence grazing in the highlands, and every September, are rounded up and directed home.

ASFF is a celebration of independent film from across the world, and an outlet for supporting and championing short filmmaking. The festival’s fifth edition will take place in 15 iconic venues across the city of York from 5 – 8 November 2015 and is currently open for entries.

We welcome short films up to 30 minutes in the following categories: advertising, animation, artists’ film, comedy, dance, documentary, drama, experimental, fashion, music video and thriller.

Deadline for entry is 31 May 2015. Enter your film at

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1. Stills from ASFF documentary