For the second edition of the Global Short Docs Forum, 16 short doc filmmakers, 7 digital platforms and a whole host of industry experts gathered at Docudays UA in Kyiv, Ukraine. The 4-day workshop was an incredible whirlwind of masterclasses, storytelling, collaborating, mentoring and pitching.

From heartfelt debates on their favourite short docs, to an intense day of energetic pitch meetings, it has been so inspiring to meet such a talented and passionate group of short doc filmmakers.

I learned so much. It’s the first time I have ever made a pitch to any platform whatsoever, and it’s been such a good experience to be able to talk about my film to prospective commissioners, to funders, and people interested in genuine human stories. – Damilola Onafuwa, Filmmaker (Nigeria)

Keep scrolling or click on a day below to read more about the events, workshops and panel discussions from throughout the Forum.


Tuesday 26 March, 2019

with Flora Gregory

This session was an opportunity to discuss why the filmmakers wanted to be at the Global Short Doc Forum, and what they hoped to achieve from the week. Flora also touched on important topics such as: ‘What demographic and technological changes have happened in the last decade?’ ‘How do we watch films and documentaries, and specifically short docs?’ and ‘What do we think is going to happen in the future?’

With over 30 years’ experience in broadcasting and many awards under her belt, Flora is always on a mission to uncover and mentor new talent, and to bring stories made by local filmmakers around the world to an international audience. She conceived and ran Channel 4’s long running Unreported World, and was the founding commissioning editor of Witness, Al Jazeera English’s flagship documentary strand which transmitted to 280 million homes worldwide.

what is a short documentary film

I got to sit during the breakfast with a filmmaker from Colombia and a filmmaker from Nigeria, and from Georgia, and Germany, at one table, talking about films, talking about culture. It’s very interesting, and unique. – Denys Lukoshkin, Filmmaker (Ukraine)

with Qutaiba Barhamji

Qutaiba showed us how to build a structure, and how editing can transform footage and create emotions – an important initial reaction. He highlighted that a good trailer is a key tool in getting interest in your film, and perhaps a commission!

Qutaiba is an award-winning film editor and director based in Paris. He has edited films in 12 different languages, full length documentaries as well as fiction films. His works are traveling around the globe at festivals like Venice, Berlin, IDFA, Rotterdam, Paris, Nyon, and many others.


Throughout the Forum, there was plenty of group work, with each filmmaker taking it in turns to pitch their project to different combinations of fellow filmmakers and mentors. Filmmakers received feedback on each presentation, improving their pitch for the next round.

short doc filmmakers

It’s an amazing thing to have this new network of colleagues all across the world who are making such incredible and fascinating work. I’ve seen some beautiful films here, and some incredible stories and some great storytelling. The filmmakers are such a diverse and interesting group, and it feels like we’re all friends even though we’ve only known each other five days. – Isobel Cockerell, Filmmaker (UK)


Wednesday 27 March, 2019

with Flora Gregory

This session with Flora was an opportunity to share and discuss our favourite short documentaries: How do we watch them? Why do we like them? How can other people access them? How were they funded? What can we learn from them?

with Dominique Young

Dominique focused on the importance of writing and clarifying a story to oneself as a filmmaker, while at the same time conveying a story pitch to a commissioning editor. She was also one of the GSDF mentors, allowing her to continue to help individual filmmakers throughout the Forum.

Dominique Young is an Executive Producer in international documentary and factual programming. For many years she was also Senior Commissioning Producer for the Witness observational documentary strand on Al Jazeera English.

Quite often emerging documentary makers work alone. They have no one to bounce their ideas off. The people at this venue are the first audience for your idea and what you’ve filmed so far, and how you’ve described it. It’s such a useful opportunity to start practising your pitches for the future because if the people here get your idea, then you’re on the right lines.
– Dominique Young, GSDF Mentor

with director Alisa Kovalenko & producer Stéphane Siohan, moderated by Daniel Abma

Home Match and Home Games: Two films from the same story, each produced with a different target in mind. By discussing and comparing the films with their makers, we were able to discover the differences and similarities between the world of the online-doc, and the world of the festival-doc. Why did they make two versions? What were the do’s and don’t’s in this process?

short doc filmmakers guidance


Thursday 28 March, 2019

with Flora Gregory

In advance of the final day of pitching, Flora ran through each of the digital platform representatives who would be joining us the following day. In this useful session, information and experiences were shared, allowing the filmmakers to build a clear picture of the platform reps, their platforms and what they would be looking for.

documentary filmmakers in workshop

with Jean Garner

In this masterclass, Jean Garner took a deeper look at the role a budget plays in production. Not only outlining how much money will need to be spent, but also how to calculate the real costs of producing a film. The filmmakers were able to go though their existing budgets for the GSDF projects, as well as gain a better understanding of how to effectively create a budget for any future project.

Jean has worked with documentary filmmakers for the past 15 years. She has previously worked for ABC News’, Nightline and Al Jazeera’s, Witness. Today, she works with journalists and filmmakers for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, whose work is based in some of the most difficult regions for free expression; including Afghanistan, Russia, Central Asia and Iran.

One of the things that distinguishes this forum is that it’s speaking to a sector of the documentary realm that has been neglected and overlooked, and in some ways disregarded. Now, in part because of audience response, in part because the media world itself is exploding in terms of platforms, short-form documentary is finding its home and it’s finding the respect that it has long been deserved. – Jean Garner, Senior Exec Producer

with Rich Evans

This session guided filmmakers on how to set themselves up for success on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook’s Rich Evans explained how to use these platforms to reach and grow audiences, along with best practices for building a community and publishing content.


Friday 29 March, 2019


Global Short Docs Forum 2019 had representatives attending from 7 platforms: AJECurrent TimeThe GuardianHromadskeLUSHVice and Zaborona.

I have been absolutely blown away by all the incredible ideas, by the passion, by the enthusiasm, by the level of detail and care and attention that’s been put into each of these projects. It’s been very exciting to see all of this young talent out there that’s waiting to share their stories with the world. – Erica Edwards, LUSH

short documentary pitch meetings

On the final pitching day, 16 filmmakers and 8 platform representatives met for a series of one-to-one meetings, where the filmmakers had the opportunity to meet the commissioners and present their films.

After 4 days of intense practice, training and support, the filmmakers were well prepared for the meetings, armed with the skills and confidence to present their projects in the best possible light. The one-to-one nature of the meetings allowed the filmmakers to go into as much detail as needed, for the platforms to explain how they work and what they need, and for both sides to establish a personal connection that goes beyond the project being pitched.

A special mention for Taisiia Kutuzova and Yurii Yudin who were recipients of awards from the British Council, in partnership with media organisations Zaborona and Hromadske, for their film projects.

I think it’s really important what One World Media are doing here today by bringing together young filmmakers from a whole mix of different backgrounds, and bringing them face to face with commissioners from a whole mixture of different platforms. I think we constantly have to challenge the way in which we’re commissioning content on platforms that have global audiences and global impact. Laurence Topham, Guardian

Dominique Young

Dominique is an Executive Producer in international documentary and factual programming. For many years she was Senior Commissioning Producer for the Witness, the observational documentary strand on Al Jazeera English, executive producing programming from Africa and the Middle East with an emphasis on developing young, regional documentary makers. She was also International Executive Producer at Zinc Network, a production and communications company specialising in social change campaigns, overseeing all international filmed output for online platforms.

Lara Taylor

As a Social Anthropology post-graduate, Lara’s interest in people and places has evolved into a passion for using video as a tool to impact people’s thoughts and actions. Her drive is to share stories that uplift and inspire. Social media and cell phone videos are a new source of interest and learning, particularly in South Africa as bandwidth has dramatically improved, and she is inspired by the power of short videos. She’s been in the industry for 18 years, increasingly focused on participatory filmmaking, and in particular teaching people how to film on their mobile phones.

Damilola Onafuwa

Damilola is documentary photographer and filmmaker based in Lagos, Nigeria. He focuses on human-interest stories that create consciousness about social issues. He is interested in how cultures are formed and how they shape our perception of the world. As an advocate of social change, he has worked with notable organizations both locally and internationally, including UNICEF, RCS London and The Commonwealth. He is a member of Africa Photo-Journalism Database, and a fellow at The Royal Commonwealth Society.

Yue Wu

Yue is a Chinese documentary filmmaker and photojournalist based between Shanghai and Chongqing, China. Her visual work has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Initium Media and Sixth Tone. Boxing Shadows is her first directed short documentary film. Yue was born and raised in Chongqing, China. After five-year studying Journalism at Iowa State University in United States, Yue decided to move back to China, and to tell stories through her lens.

Alba Jaramillo

Alba is based in New York and Medellín. Her film Project for a Collection screened internationally in venues such as Big Sky, Havana Film Festival and won Best Short Documentary at the Guayaquil International Film Festival. She is a producer for CNN’s Great Big Story and Moxie Pictures’ upcoming documentary series about education reform. She was the production coordinator for Academy Award-nominated Cartel Land and the US producer for Doc Society’s Good Pitch Local events. While completing her MFA in Media Arts Production at the State University of New York – Buffalo, she taught courses in film theory and immigration studies.

André Larsson

André is originally a photojournalist turned documentary filmmaker based in Umeå, northern Sweden. He previously worked with NGOs primarily in Burma and Gaza. With a constant focus on empowering people around him, he invites people he follows to co-create the film about them – sometimes by giving them their own camera or through a thorough co-creative directing process. André’s latest film Alone Through Iran – 1144 Miles of Trust has won several awards and the trailer has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Ketevani Kapanadze

Ketevani is in her last year of the Film Study program at Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University. From 2016 to 2018, she worked for Tbilisi International Student Film Festival as an organiser, for CineDOC-Tbilisi on coordination and programming, and as a project assistant for Audio Visual Storytelling Course for emerging documentary filmmakers. She co-founded the platform Tarazo, which aims to organise human right film events. Ketevani is part of the project 16 Women For Change, within the framework of which she created her first film Serving the Homeland. Currently she is working on her next documentary, Lana.

Isobel Cockerell

Isobel is a multimedia investigative journalist. She is currently reporting on disinformation and authoritarian technology for Coda Story, a crisis reporting platform. She spent her teenage years making amateur horror films on a webcam, but first picked up a proper camera as a graduate student at Columbia Journalism School. She has since documented the lives of LGBT Russian refugees in Brooklyn, African-American residents of Chicago’s west side, Uighur exiles in Istanbul, and a Colombian soap star in Queens. She worked on production for USA Today’s critically-acclaimed The City podcast, a ten-part audio documentary. Originally from London, she is now based in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Owen Kean

Owen is a producer and director, a two time BAFTA Children’s Award winner and RTS North Award winner. His work has ranged from communicating classical music to young people, bringing Romantic poetry to life for a modern audience and creating a new visual format for The Kermode and Mayo Show, to uncovering the gritty underside of Rio’s hip-hop scene, documenting people’s shifting opinions on Brexit and showing the world how a life can be rebuilt after escaping the Grenfell fire. He is based in London, but remains a Liverpudlian, despite the sliding accent.

Angus Dunsire

Angus is a London based director and co-founder of, a London based creative studio and production house specialising in video content. At Pal, Angus and his team come up with new ways to engage audiences and have done so for the likes of Somerset House, Cannes Lions, The International Rescue Committee and Penguin among others. Angus previously worked as a video journalist for a number of UK news organisations, including the Press Association – before setting up Pal. He has a passion for visual storytelling and his work has been published by the Atlantic, The Guardian and AJ+.

Roxy Rezvany

Roxy is a British filmmaker of Iranian-Malaysian-Chinese descent. She has been recognised by The Dots as one of their Creative Trailblazers of 2018 and featured twice in Broadcast Magazine as an up and coming director. After a career in television which included the twice Emmy-nominated programme, Gaycation, her directorial debut Little Pyongyang, a short film about North Korean refugees, premiered in competition at CPH: Dox Festival, had its UK Premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest, and was the winner of best director at Underwire Festival, best documentary at The Smalls, and is currently up for a SIMA award.

Denys Lukoshkin

Denys is an independent director and cinematographer from Kyiv, Ukraine. He studied documentary filmmaking at The Sergey Bukovsky Film Program in 2016-2017. During that time, Denys became a finalist of the national contest The Guardian Goes to Ukraine as the producer of the project Furious. He took part in making a short film House On The Edge Of The Planet as a student of Digital Filmmaking course at Kyiv Academy of Media Arts. He likes to take part in Medieval reenactments, which is also the topic of his current documentary.

Lesia Diak

Lesia is a documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist from Kyiv. She graduated from the the National University of Ostroh Academy specializing in Public Relations in 2010 and studied at the The Sergey Bukovsky Film Program in 2016-2017. Lesia currently works in a creative agency communicating healthcare projects, and writes short stories and reportage. She created a series of articles about veteran families in Ukraine and people living in a war zone. The film Strong But Not Steel is her first directorial experience.

Taisiia Kutuzova

Taisiia is a documentary filmmaker and a freelance videomaker. She received an MA in Journalism from Ukrainian Catholic University. During the video academy DocEmotion in Ukraine, she created two short documentary films as a co-director, cameraperson and editor. One of her films was screened at the Docudays UA Festival in 2017, telling the story of two choirs in a single house of culture: one with veterans of Ukrainian Insurgent Army and one with the Red Army. She is currently working on her debut short documentary as a director.

Les Yakymchuk

Les is a documentary director and journalist from Ukraine. He graduated from Kyiv-Mohyla School of Journalism and started Linza Production, where he works as a producer and director creating videos mostly for Ukrainian NGOs. He completed four short documentaries and one short fiction film. His films focus on issues of human perception and communication, social problems in Ukraine and internal reflections. His documentary What’s Wrong With My Home took part in Art Doc Fest, and is about individualization that leads to drug addiction in Ukraine.

Yurii Yudin

Yurii is a self-taught filmmaker, focusing on editing and directing. Though he’s never been to film school, he developed his career by reading, practicing, and following the documentary film culture in Ukraine. In 2013, he made his first short Facing Window, about windows where lights were never turned off. Over the next 5 years, he has gained experience in filmmaking, worked as an editor and DOP on documentary projects. He participated in the Civil Pitch at Docudays UA 2018, with the project Drowsiness, his feature documentary debut. Yurii is developing digital projects around the topic of “human existence in undiscovered spaces” such as dreams or the virtual world.

Elīza Bēniņa

Elīza is a student of Audiovisual Media BA in Baltic Film School, Estonia. She has made short student films and has recently discovered her passion for documentaries. Before starting her studies, she participated in a year-long voluntary work with children in Northern Ireland with European Voluntary Service through which she became more interested in social themes, especially in the stories of the socially excluded. In her filmmaking work she wants to raise awareness and tell the stories of those whose voices are usually silenced.


Born in Damascus, Qutaiba is an award-winning film editor and director based in Paris. He has edited films in 12 different languages, full length documentaries as well as fiction films. His works are traveling around the globe at festivals like Venice, Berlin, IDFA, Rotterdam, Paris, Nyon, and many others. Among them are Still Recording (2018) dir. Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, Poisonous Roses (2018) dir. Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, Wardé (2016) dir. Qutaiba Barhamji, The Magic Mountain (2015) dir. Andreï Schtakleff, Rough Stage (2015) dir. Toomas Järvet. Qutaiba also works as an editing consultant and trainer for several organisations in Europe and
the Middle East.


Jean has worked with documentary filmmakers for the past 15 years. She worked for ABC News and the network’s leading long form news program, Nightline. At Al Jazeera, she oversaw production and acquisition of documentaries from the Americas for the channel’s flagship program, Witness. In 2012, she helped to establish the Viewfinder program in Latin America, designed to recruit emerging filmmakers from across the region and bring their voices to an international audience. Today, she works with journalists and filmmakers for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, whose work is based in some of the most difficult regions for free expression; including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia and Iran.


Daniel studied film directing at the Film University Babelsberg in Germany, where he realised the feature length documentaries Beyond Wriezen (Grimme Award, 2012) and Transit Havana (2016). Daniel focuses on observational, character-based documentaries about socially relevant topics. He teaches documentary film directing at Film University Babelsberg, and he is part of the selection committee of the DOK Leipzig Film Festival in Germany. He also works as a tutor at pitching workshops (Baltic Sea Docs Riga, Cinedoc Tbilisi, Docudays UA), and gives workshops and masterclasses on documentary filmmaking.


Andrew is Commissioning Editor at AJ Shorts, Al Jazeera English’s digital short documentary studio. He has been with the team since 2016. AJ Shorts produce short, sharp and intimate character driven stories from around the globe. Andrew works with reporters to find poignant personal stories and tell them in a way that rises above other content. As part of AJ Shorts, he prioritises emerging talent by giving opportunities to first time filmmakers, as well as collaborating with those who are more established. AJ Shorts was awarded ‘Video Team of the Year’ at last year’s Drum Online Media Awards.


Sergei is a Prague based media professional focused on TV-series and documentary acquisition, production and distribution. He graduated from Baltic Film and Media School (Tallinn, Estonia) with a bachelor of Crossmedia production. For the last 15 years, Sergei has been involved in audio-visual production across print, online and video. He worked for Estonian Public Broadcasting as acquisition executive for feature films, animation and documentaries for ETV+ (channel in Russian). Since 2017 Sergei has been working for Current Time TV (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty) as an acquisition and commissioning manager.


Laurence has worked at the Guardian for over 10 years. He was initially an in-house video producer, working across a wide-range of international news stories, documentaries, interactives and investigations. He has won multiple awards for his work – including Firestorm, Fast Ice and Building the Bomb – and has filmed in places such as Antarctica, the Arctic, West and East Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and all across the United States. Laurence is currently a Special Projects Editor and oversees many of the Guardian’s in-house documentaries and multimedia projects – such as The Trap, The Tower Next Door and Beyond the Blade.


Anna is the Story/Culture Editor at Hromadske. She dreamed about being a cinematographer since she was a kid; but she married a cinematographer and got three kids instead. Anna’s now trying to turn television into cinema. She feels lucky to have met Hromadske, as short docs are their favorite. Hromadske is a story-centric platform, hunting for protagonists and their huge little dramas. Anna believes there is only a slight difference between real life and the movies. Same rules of three-act drama, same suspense. Especially in Ukraine, where it’s like living in a dramatic action movie since Maidan in 2014. The big challenge is to stay empathetic and don’t lose the human touch.


Erica fell in love with filmmaking at the age of eight when she first discovered her dad’s hi-8 camcorder. She is now a film producer and director, and manages the Lush Film Fund, which champions films with a conscience and ethical backbone. She dreams of a future world of filmmaking where everyone has the same opportunities and is passionate about providing a space in film for others to share their stories without restraint.


Alex is Head of Video at VICE UK, managing the documentary films and series across the network. Prior to this, he was Head of Music, managing VICE’s music channel Noisey from launch. VICE and Noisey UK have won a series of awards for its groundbreaking content. Before VICE, Alex spent nine years at MTV, a tenure that included winning an NME Award for Gonzo with Zane Lowe, and running the rock and indie channel MTV2. As a director, Alex has made a number of documentaries including Hip Hop in the Holy Land hosted by Mike Skinner, the controversial feature The Redemption of the Devil, and films about the likes of Liam Gallagher, Skepta and seminal clubnight Bugged Out.


Roman is co-founder and executive producer of Zaborona. He focuses on issues of migration, post-soviet reforms, human rights, and gender inequality. He has contributed to PBS Newshour, AP, Bloomberg and Vice in Ukraine, Russia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Turkey. Roman reported from both sides of the conflict in the East of Ukraine during an active phase of the war, filmed as a cameraman and producer some of the dispatches Russian Roulette on Vice News. In 2018, he produced the Peabody and NPC award-winning Inside Putin’s Russia series for PBS Newshour. In 2018 he launched Zaborona media project with prominent Ukrainian (and former Russian) journalist Kateryna Serhatskova.


Anastasia is Senior Video Producer of Zaborona. She focuses on issues of war between Russia and Ukraine, internal migration, human rights, LGBTQ, and far-right movements. She has contributed for Hromadske TV as video content producer till 2018. She has made the film Donetsk Spring about pro-Ukrainian protesters and their resistance to “Russian spring” in Donetsk during the beginning of the war in the East of Ukraine. In Zaborona, she is one of the directors of the art-doc serial Light it up! about Ukrainian changemakers in local communities. She also contributed to Current Time TV, BBC, Reuters, RFE/RL, UNHCR, Thompson Foundation.


Horia El Hadad is an observational documentary filmmaker and producer for Al Jazeera’s flagship documentary strand, Witness. Horia has produced and directed ‘East End Undertakers‘, ‘Undocumented and Under Attack‘, ‘When Time Stopped at Sea’, ‘Paris: Voice of the Suburbs’ and ‘A Marrakech Tale’.  Horia is committed to producing multi-layered, non-judgmental and impact-driven films that explore global issues through personal narratives.