Bus Stop Films’ ‘What Was It Like?’ wins Best Australian Short at Heart of Gold

Nathan Basha in 'What Was It Like?'. (Photo: Bus Stop Films)

Genevieve Clay-Smith’s What Was It Like?, made via Bus Stop Films, took home Best Australian Short at the Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival over the weekend.

The documentary follows eight filmmakers with intellectual disability as they discuss their diagnosis with their parents.  

In a behind-the-scenes video, The Making of What Was It Like?, Clay-Smith said the film was “all about our filmmakers… advocating through telling their stories in order to change the way that doctors approach a diagnosis.”

Clay-Smith has heard many stories of parents having negative experiences with medical practitioners through the diagnosis process, and hopes this film will reduce this – choosing the documentary form as it was “the only way” to communicate the stories being told.

Winnings include $2,000 as well as a two-week artist residency, allowing Bus Stop Films to further the exposure of the work they do.

Speaking to IF, Clay-Smith said winning the prize “feels like the message has been seen, heard and valued.”

Nine awards were given out during Heart of Gold’s inaugural awards, presented by the likes of festival patron Leah Purcell and Echoes creator Vanessa Gazy. 

Best Short Film was won by a Canadian film, Like the Ones I Used To Know. Directed by Annie St-Pierre, it follows a recently divorced man who travels to his ex-in-laws on Christmas Eve to pick up his children.

‘Like The Ones I Used To Know’, directed by Annie St-Pierre, won Best Short Film.

Festival director Jackson Laplsey congratulated the prize winners.

“We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate such a talented group of filmmakers,” he said.

Not only did this year’s festival display short films from around the world, patrons were also able to participate in a variety of workshops. These included painting in virtual reality and a podcasting intensive.  

The full list of winners:


Winner: Like The Ones I Used To Know (Canada)

Director: Annie St-Pierre

Recently divorced Denis travels to his ex-in-laws on Christmas Eve to pick up his children in this bittersweet festive short.


Winner: What Was It Like

Director: Genevieve Clay-Smith

Eight filmmakers with intellectual disabilities interview their parents about what it was like when doctors delivered their diagnosis.

BEST STUDENT FILM sponsored by Australian Teachers of Media QLD

Winner: Sunburn 

Director: Jaslyn Mairs

In the wake of a tragedy, Charlie takes her best friend Em on a road trip in the hope it will help them heal. Along the way they find their friendship is tested like never before.

BEST SCRIPT sponsored by Dixon Dental

Winner: You and Me, Before and After

Writer and Director: Madeleine Gottlieb

Two adult sisters who love each other learn to like each other while getting their first tattoos. 

MOST INSPIRING TRUE STORY sponsored by John Farrell Family Trust

Winner: A Defiantly Happy Story

Director: Alex Cummings

The incredible journey of a mother and her son who was diagnosed with two rare diseases.

BEST QUEENSLAND sponsored by Jobmatch Employment

Winner: Our Greatest Escape

Director: Loani Arman

Through an old ritual, a woman losing her mother to dementia finds a way to bring her back. Even though life moves on, there’s still magic to be had.


Winner: Zonder Meer

Director: Meltse Van Coillie

A campsite in the summer holidays, aimless days spent in the shade of trees. But something has gone awry.


Winner: Bacon

Director: Elizabethan Hogan – Mansfield State High

BEST YOUNG FILMMAKER (GYMPIE REGION) sponsored by Maxwell Walker

Winner: Move It

Director: Ande Foster, Rebecca Gainger – Gympie Flexi School