It is only in its third edition, but the UK's Britdoc festival (July 23-25) is a major draw for the international documentary community.

Last week's instalment attracted more than 950 delegates, including film-makers Larry Charles, Nick Broomfield, and Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, otherwise known as anti-capitalist activists The Yes Men, as well as a range of broadcasters, commissioning editors and financiers. These included representatives from Sundance, Participant Media, HBO, BBC, Channel 4, SBS Australia and NHK.

Taking place in the rarefied confines of Oxford's Keble College, Britdoc has a definite campus feel. Delegates stay in college rooms, most events take place on site and film-makers can continue their networking into the small hours at the packed student bar. 'It's a place to start relationships primarily,' says Greg Sanderson, editorial executive of BBC Storyville. 'It was a great atmosphere. There's a good feeling about it.'

Director Eva Weber, whose The Solitary Life Of Cranes won the VW Passat/Four Docs Short Film Competition, says: 'I've been all three years. Because it's still relatively small, it's just a great place to actually talk to people.'

Discussion points included the opportunities afforded by non-governmental organisations (NGO) and other parties interested in social-change documentaries and the potential offered by multimedia.

James Marsh's Man On Wire scooped the British feature-film documentary prize, and Jerry Rothwell's Heavy Load - pitched at Britdoc '06 - won the audience prize.

Breakout film

One of the highlights of Britdoc is its Dragons' Den-style pitching forums, in which a succession of film-makers present their projects to key commissioners and funders.

In addition to forums for short projects and features, this year also saw the launch of the Good Pitch, an event aiming to match social-purpose documentaries with interested NGOs, foundations and other groups.

The quality of projects across all the forums was high and several established names pitched. Gael Garcia Bernal attended the Good Pitch with director Marc Silver and the UK's Pulse Films to seek partners for Resist, an ambitious feature documentary and web project exploring the landscape of resistance.

Bafta-winning UK director Brian Hill (whose credits include Feltham Sings and Songbirds) pitched his project Aids: The Musical at the Big Pitch, while Oscar-winning director Jon Blair was at the same event with Dancing With The Devil In The City Of God, a project about Rio's favelas.

'The level of the projects was really pretty spectacularly high, particularly in the Big Pitch,' says Storyville's Sanderson. 'There aren't many places where people like Brian Hill and Jon Blair are standing up at these things and pitching. They're real heavyweights.'

Another much-discussed project was Mark Henderson's My Kidnapper And Me, in which the film-maker will return to Colombia to meet one of the guerrillas who took him hostage in 2003.

Julie Moggan picked up the best pitch prize, worth $1,000, for her project Guilty Pleasure, which explores the Mills & Boon romantic-novel publishing phenomenon. The short pitch prize went to the UK's Hannah Patterson for Shelter In Place, about Texas oil refineries, along with a $5,000 (£10,000) cheque from the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation.

Breakout talent

Eva Weber's The Solitary Life Of Cranes was the unanimous winner of the VW Passat/Four Docs Short Film Competition. The mesmerising 27-minute film, produced by Odd Girl Out Productions and funded by the Channel 4 British Documentary Film Foundation (which also runs Britdoc) looks at London from a unique vantage point: the cab of the crane driver.

'It was an exquisite piece of film-making, beautifully crafted and such a stunningly simple and fresh subject,' says Tanya Seghatchian, head of the UK Film Council's Development Fund, who was on the jury.

Director Weber initially made a set of films for Channel 4's 3 Minute Wonder strand with the overall title City Of Cranes, before going on to make the longer piece. 'The two are very, very different,' says Weber. 'The long film is more of a city symphony, 24 hours in the life of London. The three-minute films are very distinct aspects of a crane driver's life, or cranes.'

Weber is now working on two long-form documentaries as well as Ghost Wives, a feature-length drama.