It’s that time of the year again, and this year’s new crop of hopefuls in the BAFTA shorts category didn’t disappoint. Offering a mixture of live-action and animated productions, BAFTA has surpassed itself once again with a shortlist which is worthy of admiration and praise. Here are just a few of the best and most notable nominees.

Azzar ★★★★ First shown as part of the NFTS (National Film and Television School) graduate showcase in 2019,  Myriam Raja’s powerful coming-of-age short Azaar is set in 1800s India and focuses on the life of young girl (Aashima Mehra) as she yearns to fellow in the footsteps of her elders while her mother (Kiran Sonia Sawar) struggles with her own demons. Raja, who writes as well as directs here, has done a great job in exploring the tension between personal desire and tradition in a world where women are undermined by both societal standing and religion. This is deftly handled and beautifully atmospheric story which is further elevated by Michael Filocamo’s stunning cinematography and a haunting score courtesy Roshan Gunga.

Goldfish ★★★ Directed by Hector Dockrill and co-written Laura Dockrill, Goldfish explores themes relating to mental health,  knife-crime and racial stereotypes in inner cities. In the aftermath of her brother’s violent death, 11 year old viola (Sapphire Paine) finds a letter from a stranger that leads her face to face with a young man who lives thanks to her own brother’s death. This is beautifully written, if slightly disjointed production which shows a lot of potential even of it’s ultimately let down by a series of clichés and contrivances.

The Trap ★★★★ Directed by Game of Thrones star Lena Heady, The Trap stars Michelle Fairley (Philomena, Suits, Fortitude) as a taciturn middle age car mechanic who finds a new lease of life when she falls head over heels for mysterious and charismatic drifter Joe. Michelle’s life falls apart when she learns of the true nature of her new lover in a gut-wrenching and shocking revelation. This deftly handled and brilliantly acted drama is rather impressive in its simplicity even if Heady can’t seem to resist the odd contrivance and artifice to tell her story.

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) ★★★★★ Carol Dysinger’s brilliantly uplifting Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) focuses on an initiative set up in Kabul, Afghanistan which began as a skate school in 2007 and has since become a multinational educational tool for girls around the globe. Dubbed Skateistan, the initiative has worked for years to recruit girls from low income backgrounds in Kabul- one of the worst places to be born a girl- and teaches them skills so they can return to or enter the public school system and give them a great a start in life. 

The EE British Academy Film Awards, will recognise the very best in film of the past year, will take place on Sunday 2 February at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The ceremony will be hosted by Graham Norton and will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One and BBC One HD in the UK and in all major territories around the world.