There have been several comments and questions, plus some useful links posted on the site in the last few days.
"The definition of short film is so broad that surely there are going to be many different results. If moderators are wanted basic fictional narratives than that should be addressed in the brief. My students are creating short films based on a theme. We have several different types of short films, two of which I've included there. Two of the groups really like these films and may borrow the ideas/structure. Both I would argue have a clear narrative structure, but they are not fictional and not traditional short stories".
here and here
these look like good examples and if an A2 short film was as good as these, we'd all be well pleased!!
"I'd have thought a sort of Three Minute Wonder documentary format would work well: Is 3 minutes too short even if its done well?"
Up to five minutes is the stipulation, so 3 mins done well would be fine!
"There are many documentary style short films. Have a look at BBC Film Network which has a whole category dedicated to them. See also Fourdocs and 4docs - the films on the latter often will not play. The factual short film form is wholly legitimate for students to attempt, in my view. The problem as I see it is that some simply copy the format of a conventional TV documentary in shortened form with endless interviews and a narration. I think that they should be more adventurous and try to impose a distinctive style of some sort. A characteristic of short films seems to be that they are often quirky in some way. This requires a lot of imagination, and there's the rub!"
Very good point- it's all in the execution.
Advice from Rob carlton: "Centres can do documentaries as an option if they want to under the A2 short film task.
However centres should be aware that those who have attempted it so far have found it problematical to get their students to produce a whole documentary film lasting only five minutes, with moderators reporting that these have either tend ed to end up looking like news pieces or unfocussed social realest films or unfocussed cross overs between music video and documentary .
Students may find the A2 short film task more accessibile and engaging if they stick to fictional/narrative based short films."
So, overall fiction and non-fiction are both possible, but bear in mind the advice here. The most important thing is that it is a complete short film!