First-Time Filmmaker Sessions Winners: May 2024

Thank you to all the filmmakers who participated in the May edition of the First-Time Filmmaker Sessions!
The festival platformed hundreds of films, each project worthy of recognition and celebration. We want to extend a giant thank you to everyone who took part and a special congratulations to all the incredible talent that went into making these projects.
First-Time Filmmaker Sessions is designed to be the entry into the Lift-Off Global Network. A platform for the avant-garde, FT Sessions isn't about selecting the 'best' or most 'commercial' projects; it is about providing a screening opportunity for everyone, connecting these new and emerging voices with new audiences. An option we hope highlights and educates each month!

Jury's Overall Winner


Director: Jakub Szyszka
Writer: Krzysztof T. Dąbrowski
Producers: Łukasz Szklarz, Franciszek Lubicz-Łapiński

Country of Origin: Poland
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama

Synopsis: In a futuristic Warsaw, Teo and Adam try to reconcile their differences during a night out. Will they pull their punches to recover what they once had?

Season Award #15 Shortlist: Best First-Time Filmmaker


Audience Choice Winners


Director/Writer: Martine Neang
Country of Origin: Cambodia

In her debut documentary feature, curious and conflicted Martine Neang at the crossroads of her French-Cambodian heritage delves deep into the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide that haunts her family since the 1970s.

Waiting for Kairos

Directors/Writers/Producers: Siham Medjahed,Lila Louesdon, Sam Bougon
Country of Origin: Canada

Yorgos wakes up one morning and decides to adopt a dog. For him, it is the solution to all his problems. How could a living being who gives and receives so much love represent anything negative? Anticipating his family's reactions and future attempts at reasoning him, Yorgos decides to leave, accompanied by his dog and his prism collection. Through numerous worried calls from his loved ones, Yorgos tries to prove to them that despite what they believe, he is capable of taking care of a dog, and of himself. As he wanders through the city and the repercussions of his actions gradually catch up with him, Yorgos is faced with the difficulty of a decision that he will have to make as quickly as possible.

Expiration Date

Director/Writer/Producer: Sinead Cassidy Holt

Writer/Producer: Anthony O'Reilly Jr, Conor McKenna, Michael De Brun
Country of Origin: Ireland

When Matthew is given the news of his grandfathers passing, he slowly discovers that death does not mean we say goodbye forever the ones we've loved and lost.

Games of Bazaar

Director/Writer/Producer: Soroush Dianati
Country of Origin: Islamic Republic of Iran

A teenage boy in his room, enters the colorful and exciting world of games by opening the "bazaar" application.

Out Of Order

Director/Writer: Paul Rippengal
Country of Origin: United Kingdom

A man has an existential crisis in a public toilet. Will he fall into a pit of despair or embrace the absurdity of his existence?!


Director/Writer/Producer: Julien Lemoine
Country of Origin: France

Edouard, an introverted young man, goes on stage for his first time in a comedy show. Nothing will happen as it should have...


Director/Writer/Producer: Dayana González Fajardo
Country of Origin: Colombia

A nurse cares for an elderly man on his birthday at a retirement home. She tells him a story about her father and his gifts of orchids. The old man regrets seeing his daughter many years ago. When the woman leaves, the old man takes an old photo album and remembers that the woman who just left is not a nurse but his daughter.

A Vase

Director/Writer/Producer: Rushit Kansara
Country of Origin: Germany

A symbolic representation of a modern relationship engaged in dilemma between individual desires in this chaotic world.

Clock's Pitch

Director/Writer/Producer: Josu Sánchez Gómez
Country of Origin: Spain

JsClock from the Clock Crew tries to sell his product in ''Clock's Pitch'', a parody of ''Shark Tank'', with many interruptions of it's hosts.

The first Christmas of Noé

Director/Writer: Alexis Renou
Country of Origin: France

Noé and his sister mentally prepare themselves for the family meal that awaits them. The young man has delayed announcing his gender transition to his parents and arrives at the Christmas dinner as if nothing has changed, sporting a brand-new mustache.


Director/Writer: Yusuph Ololade Olabanji

Producer: Samuel Abiodun Ojetola
Country of Origin: Nigeria

Broken is a gripping and thought-provoking story that delves into the harrowing world of drug addiction. The story follows the journey of Kiitan, a talented and ambitious young Artiste whose life takes a dark turn when he becomes entangled in the dangerous web of substance abuse.

Cuban Bees: The Organic Revolution

Directors: Daniesky Acosta, Hugo Rivalta

Producers: Daniesky Acosta, Helen Yaffe
Country of Origin: Cuba

Cuban beekeepers are committed to organic and sustainable apiculture, avoiding chemical contaminants. This brings huge benefits to the island’s bee population and contributes to the overall well-being of the ecosystem.

The Gap

Director/Writer: Ada Tuna
Country of Origin: Australia

The Gap follows Nikyah, a young Wiradjuri/Wonnarua woman, as she navigates themes of generational trauma, privilege and systematic racism in the lead-up to Australia’s ‘Voice to Parliament’ referendum.

Duty to Repent

Director/Writer/Producer: Corey Downey
Country of Origin: United States

After foreign espionage agents kidnap the Secretary of State's daughter, a small team of American agents embark on a mission to get her back. The mission is completed only after forcing one agent to question his loyalty forever.

Birthday Cake

Director/Writer/Producer: Zahra Shafiee
Country of Origin: Islamic Republic of Iran

Making cake is the best way to show your love...


Director/Writer/Producer: Jessica Hope Studwell
Country of Origin: Austria

Relax! follows Noah's attempted journey to relaxation. During his day at a futuristic spa he is lead through different therapies by the AI robot Ai.leen. However, her priority is speed and efficiency.

The night is optional

Director/Writer/Producer: Isaia Contreras Holsæter
Country of Origin: Norway

The night is optional is a short film and an inner exploration about daring to step into one's darkness to access our light.
It is a sensual and poetic film of 5:37 minutes. A mixture of voice over, sensual images and music.

Lift-Off Season Awards #15

The Lift-Off Season Awards is an annual event that celebrates the very best of indie film. Following each Lift-Off film festival, films that have excelled in their respective category are short listed for a Season Awards Nomination.  At the end of the year, once all the 12 city-based festival have taken place, the shortlisted nominated films are reviewed again by the jury and Official Nominations are designated.  Click here for more information about the Lift-Off Season Awards.