PUBLISHED06 Jul 2021

Melbourne International Film Festival 2021

Check out the Documentary Australia Foundation approved projects screening at MIFF from the 13 - 22 of August.

In response to the evolving COVID situation, Melbourne International Film Festival will be a hybrid festival. Meeting their audiences, where ever they are.

Streaming: 5–22 August
In cinemas: 13–22 August

Find out about the latest COVID-19 updates affecting the Melbourne International Film Festival here.


Entrepreneur, impresario, entertainer, activist. Tiriki Onus thought he knew his grandfather Bill, until an unearthed film reel suggests he might have been the first-ever Aboriginal filmmaker.

SYNOPSIS: Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri man Bill Onus is a revered figure in Australia’s civil-rights history. After a disadvantaged upbringing at the Cummeragunja Mission, in the 1940s and 50s he ignited a struggle for Indigenous rights in collaboration with the Australian Aborigines’ League and stalwart advocates such as Douglas Nicholls and Faith Bandler. When, 70 years later, a silent film believed to have been made by Bill is discovered, his already rich legacy – and our broader understanding of the Indigenous rights movement – is thrust under a new light.

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The Beloved

Commune or cult? This epic documentary illuminates the Rajneesh sannyasin movement in 1980s Fremantle, as told by those who lived through it.


If you lived in the Fremantle of the early 1980s, it was not uncommon to see the so-called “Orange People”: members of the Rajneesh sannyasin commune. Surrendering themselves to the spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, adherents were promised enlightenment and revolution, but required to live by significantly modified social structures and identities. Like so many living experiments dedicated to a higher consciousness, the movement seemed to have all the trappings of a cult – and its notoriety has lingered in the city in the four decades since.

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Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution

This uplifting feast of a film goes behind the scenes of an Italian hotel-restaurant staffed by youngsters living with Down syndrome.

SYNOPSIS: Nestled in Italy’s Piedmont region is the Albergo Etico and its attached restaurant, the Tacabanda. Both are run by chef-on-a-mission Antonio de Benedetto, who transforms the lives of young people living with Down syndrome by providing not just practical skills and employment, but also a second home and family in which to belong. Chef Antonio’s Recipes for Revolution follows de Benetto and protégés Mirko Piras, Jessica Berta and others as they share in laughter and love, drama and dreams, and the toil of top-notch customer service.

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This true story of an acid attack survivor’s fight to alter her daughter’s destiny is an inspiring and heartwarming call-to-action.

SYNOPSIS: Almost 30 years ago, Geeta Mahor was asleep with her young daughters in their Agra home when her husband, Inderjeet, maliciously threw acid on them. Geeta was badly injured, three-year-old Neetu ended up severely scarred and almost completely blind, and baby Krishna tragically passed away. To this day, Geeta and Neetu are left to grapple with poverty and social ostracism – but they have also joined a burgeoning social justice movement working to end violence against women.

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Love in Bright Landscapes

An engrossing portrait of the rise and untimely demise of David McComb, the virtuosic frontman of Australian rock band The Triffids.

SYNOPSIS: Formed in 1978 in Perth, The Triffids – the band behind such hits as Wide Open Road and Bury Me Deep in Love – shot to global stardom in the 80s with their sweeping, imagistic lyrics and unique instrumentation that fused genre staples with strings and vocal harmonies. Heading up this iconic six-piece was David McComb, an intensely talented poet and singer/songwriter gifted with a plaintive, hypnotic baritone. Setbacks and burnout led to the group’s dissolution later that decade, and the 90s saw McComb attempt a solo career and eventually succumb to alcoholism and substance abuse.

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Paper City

Three elderly survivors of the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo fight against bureaucracy and indifference to ensure that the event and its victims are not forgotten.

SYNOPSIS: Just after midnight on 10 March 1945, the US launched an air-based attack on eastern Tokyo; continuing until morning, the raid left more than 100,000 people dead and a quarter of the city eradicated. Unlike their loved ones, Hiroshi Hoshino, Michiko Kiyooka and Minoru Tsukiyama managed to emerge from the bombings. Now in their twilight years, they wish for nothing more than recognition and reparations for those who, like them, had been indelibly harmed by the war – but the Japanese government and even their fellow citizens seem disinclined to acknowledge the past.

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Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow

Go behind the scenes, and onto the stage, of a legendary concert to discover the story of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, told in song – a story that should be told to every Australian.

SYNOPSIS: In 2004, one of Australia’s most iconic musical duos, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, joined forces with Paul Grabowsky’s Australian Art Orchestra for an extraordinary performance two years in the making. Kura Tungar: Songs from the River was a multimedia song cycle that recounted the lives of Roach and Hunter – members of the Stolen Generations who found each other – and their unrelenting love of music. Commissioned by Robyn Archer, the show was met with great acclaim and won that year’s Helpmann Award for Best Australian Contemporary Concert.

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