After an intense week of deliberation that ended yesterday first with a canal trip and then with a closed session at the Hotel Vondel, the jury of this year's Vpro Joris Ivens Award have decided on the shortlist for this year's $15,000 (Eu12,500) prize.

Led by German film-maker Monika Treut, the five-person jury narrowed their choice of eventual winner down to either Yoav Shamir's Checkpoint, Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk's Lost Boys Of Sudan and Peter Liechti's Lucky Jack ' Three Attempts To Stop Smoking.

The list, however, didn't include any of the more obvious festival favourites such as Mark Achbar's The Corporation, Julian Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel's Arna's Children and Phil Grabsky's The Boy Who Plays On The Buddhas Of Bamiyan, which many festival-goers had touted as possible shortlist contenders.

Jury members said choosing the shortlist was tricky given the quality and subject matter of this year's entries. 'We actually had some quite hardcore viewing because more than half of the films were of people in distress and social-political crisis, so it was not that easy to view them in a short amount of time,' said Treut.

After some debate, however, the jury finally reached its decision. 'Because four of us are film-makers and we come from different genres of documentary film-making, it took us quite some time to reach a consensus. It wasn't easy because we weren't easy on ourselves. But I think it was very worthwhile because there is so much passion going into film-making today.'

Shamir's film about the daily exchanges between young Israeli soldiers and the Palestinians who are forced to endure the ritual humiliation of the checkpoints is the Israeli director's third film.

Film-maker Peter Liechti's tragic-comic cinematographic journey as metaphor, Lucky Jack, features the director setting out on a number of journeys in a bid to get back to a period 30 years ago, before he took up smoking.

Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk's Lost Boys Of Sudan, which is among the documentary Oscar contenders, examines the themes of identity, racism and whether the US really is a land of opportunity open to all.