Short Films, Big Ideas

FOCUS FORWARD - Short Films, Big Ideas is an award-winning series of 30 three-minute stories about innovators—people who are reshaping the world through act or invention—directed by the world's most celebrated documentary filmmakers. The films have been viewed in 150 countries and screened to audiences on all seven continents.


Best known for his Segway Personal Transporter, inventor Dean Kamen is taking on the world's great challenges one invention at a time. Slingshot is the story of Kamen, his water purification, and his innovative approach to the planet's safe water crisis.

The Films

FOCUS FORWARD films debuted online and at major film festivals around the world.
Here are all 30 films in the series, the most recent of which world premiered at the
2013 Sundance Film Festival

The Directors

A who's who of international documentary filmmakers drawn from every corner of the globe, FOCUS FORWARD directors are the most distinguished nonfiction storytellers working in contemporary independent cinema today. Many have won Academy Awards for their shorts and features; others have earned their laurels at world-renowned festivals and at the box office.

Filmmaker Competition


The five winners of the FOCUS FORWARD $200,000 Filmmaker Competition were announced at a special awards ceremony at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Each received a huge cash prize,
including $100,000 to the Grand Jury Prize Winner.  

Watch all five winners, along with the 20 finalists who vied for the prizes.

Watch the trailer to find out more

We're proud that filmmakers from over 69 countries submitted films to the Competition. Winning is great, but what really counts is knowing there are so many top-notch storytellers all over the world. (See all submissions here.)

Thank you, filmmakers!

Meet the Jury


Here they are, the winners of the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition, including the $100,000 Grand Prize winner. Congratulations, filmmakers!

Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that causes complete colour blindness. In 2004, Harbisson and Adam Montandon developed the eyeborg, a sensory device that translates colours into sounds, which Harbisson, the world’s first officially recognized cyborg, wears at all times.

The Artificial Leaf

Jared P. Scott &...

Dan Nocera has a simple formula to save the planet: sunlight + water = energy...


Paul Lazarus

Best known for his Segway Personal Transporter, inventor Dean Kamen is taking on the world’s...

Bones Don't Lie and...

Kim Munsamy

After two decades the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) remains dedicated to the work...

Mine Kafon

Callum Cooper

A short documentary portrait on a designer who has created a low cost solution to...
See all Finalists

Short Films, Big Ideas

The series celebrates innovators–those who are hard at work, making the world a better place.

A partnership between GE and Cinelan, FOCUS FORWARD commissioned 30 three-minute films from an impressive roster of award-winning international filmmakers. The creative brief was simple: tell a story about an innovator or a world-changing idea, and do it in about 180 seconds.

The films premiered in 2012 and 2013 at film festivals across six continents as they also went live online. The films have now been viewed and shared in 150 countries on seven continents (a special screening was arranged for science conference in Antarctica). 

The same creative brief was offered to filmmakers everywhere during the FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition. Astounding entries came in from 69 countries. A jury of renowned film industry professionals selected five winners at Sundance 2013, who shared $200,000 in cash prizes, the largest ever awarded to short non-fiction films.

The series has been honored by the London International AwardsClio, Webby and Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. The films continue to reach new audiences and receive invitations from festivals around the globe. An even greater measure of their success is the way these stories make people feel–inspired. 

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