A SALISBURY director has scooped a best documentary award and become the first British filmmaker to win the accolade.

Benjamin Johns wrote and directed The Medicine Buddha, which is the first UK film to have won in any category at the Mongolian Academy Awards.

This year’s awards took place in Ulan Bator on September 28.

The documentary film, which is narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, was shot over four weeks in temperatures falling to minus 35 degrees, and centres on the renowned Mongolian Buddhist leader, Khamba Lama Natsagdorj and the beauty of Mongolia.

It also looks at Lama’s humanitarian efforts which include his work in the Manba Datsan Traditional Medicine Central Hospital, his Manba Datsan Monastery and the Otoch Manramba University.

Benjamin, who is a BAFTA nominated director and now lives in London, said: “Shooting this film was an incredible experience, and it is a great honour to be the first British film maker to win this award. It has been a privilege and pleasure to tell the story of such a remarkable man’s life.

“I am looking forward to the film reaching audiences around the world.”

He added: It was a very challenging film to make, shooting in temperatures down to minus 35 degrees and working with my cinematographer, Gerry Vasbenter (Lord of the Rings camera operator) to ensure that the equipment could function as well as the crew.

“The road trip to Lama’s remote homeland Zaykhan Province was incredible and we were in the hands of local drivers and Lama’s powerful prayers to keep us safe on our journey.

“Mongolia is a wonderful country and the people are very friendly warm and welcoming. The Nomadic Mongolian lifestyle is one of the purest forms in existence today.”