PUBLISHED02 Dec 2020

New Documentary Projects – December 2020

We are closing off 2020 with 19 new projects approved for fiscal sponsorship - take a look through these unique impact stories below.


An ordinary woman crosses the Atlantic solo in a rowboat learning that being alone and being lonely can be worlds apart.

SYNOPSIS: Michelle Lee left two failed relationships, a job, and all her fear to cross the Atlantic solo in a rowboat. Over 68 days, she faces the most terrifying threats imaginable, both physical and mental. Through squally seas, keening tears, and the stalking menace of illness, her determination wavers. As she proves her worth to mother nature, a bond is formed that sets her course. Reaching land at last in unfamiliar territory, Michelle finds the power of striking out alone, and learns the greatest partner for the solo traveller is the one that’s found within.

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Change Matters

The inspiring stories of brave First Nations individuals fighting for change in their workplaces and communities.

SYNOPSIS:  Apologies and excuses are in the past. Awareness is no longer enough. It’s time for all of us to do our bit, and challenge the status quo, to create a better future…

‘Change Matters’ is a collection of powerful stories exploring communities, workplaces, law enforcement, sports and media organisations and the actions they are being challenged to take to right the wrongs of the past and create a better future. Raw, honest and at times confronting, this documentary web series canvasses topics such as truth-telling, racism, sovereignty and inclusion through the lens of brave First Nations individuals who are stepping up to demand change.

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We are Conjola – Our Fire – Our Story

SYNOPSIS:  NYE 2019. Director and film maker Ash Brennan lost his house in the Conjola Park Bushfire which nearly killed his brother and many others who stayed to fight.

From a Perth hotel room Ash saw the first image of what used to be his house in the background of a news reporter. Up until that moment, Ash had been heavily involved in the West Papuan Freedom Campaign, working alongside Independence Leader Benny Wenda to raise awareness of the plight of the people of West Papua and was half way through pre-production on a documentary about the Independence movement when the NYE Bushfires struck.

After almost being wiped off the map, a traumatised community waited for help. But it never came. Conjola was abandoned and left for dead. Local artists then started creating. They needed to heal. It gave the community hope and solidified their journey to recovery, together. Ash hopes that the creation of this film will be part of that recovery.

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A look at how hair can create sustainability in a disposable world.

SYNOPSIS: Most of us have it and we invest a lot of time and money into taking care of it, creating a booming $89.7 billion dollar industry that creates a huge amount of waste.
Paul, a former hairdresser, saw first hand how much waste his salons produced, and wanted to do something about it. Paul and his wife started Sustainable Salons, and have managed to recycle a tremendous amount of waste and create a sustainable business out of things that others would throw away.
Sustainability is possible on all levels of society from a personal level all the way up to global corporations such as L’Oreal who are leading the charge for sustainability in the highest reaches of the industry. Key figures from the industry share their stories, dreams and contributions to a better planet. HAIR explores what sustainability looks like on all these levels and highlights what each of us can do to create sustainability in a disposable world.

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In Her Corner

Follows the triumphs & challenges of Sydney’s Muslim female boxers.


In Her Corner is an observational documentary that follows three young Muslim women from southwest Sydney as they navigate their connections to family, faith and community, whilst pursuing their dreams of professional boxing.

We follow Malakay, a sole parent of two young boys, who found her way into the ring after her youngest son’s cancer battle, Aida, a passionate youth worker and women’s boxing coach determined to challenge negative perceptions of Islam, and Tina, a make up artist by day and up-and-coming amateur.

We observe the complex push and pull between motherhood, ambition, femininity and toughness in modern Australian society. In Her Corner charts each woman’s triumph and defeat, their families, work, culture and faith

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In My Neighbourhood

An innovative, immersive animated documentary series sharing diverse local stories for change.

SYNOPSIS: An innovative and immersive animated documentary series that invites Victorian audiences to explore issues affecting their communities through an interactive virtual reality platform created with and for communities across Australia.

Audiences will be asked to enter the virtual neighbourhood and walk the streets, where they will find houses that unfold and unpack to reveal hidden stories within.

Created in collaboration with 30 residents of Melbourne, the stories address a wide range of issues including; family violence, gender inequality, suicide, mental health, immigration experiences, race-based discrimination, isolation, lost connections and separation in COVID times, the menstruation taboo, cycles of grief, masculinity, the power of friendship and chasing dreams.

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Kutcha’s Carpool Koorioke

Cruise Wurundjeri Country with Mutti Mutti songman Kutcha Edwards and our most loved Indigenous performers.

SYNOPSIS: Featuring acclaimed Mutti Mutti songman Kutcha Edwards, Fitzroy icon Uncle Jack Charles and a host of Indigenous performers young and old. Shot on Wurundjeri country – Fitzroy streets are the stompin’ ground – for this mutliplatform program – digital, podcasting and popup shop fronts and outdoor screens.

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Native Title Rockets

Corporate cowboys and government bodies enabling the destruction of sacred sites.

SYNOPSIS: A feature hybrid documentary, using 3D animation incorporating traditional paintings and projection to punctuate the story. Beautiful cinematography coupled with a strong presenter-led story.

The documentary will reveal research investigating how misinformation, a lacking legal framework and poverty can position a space rocket launch testing site on sacred women’s country. The rocket launch ‘test’ site is at a small Aboriginal community, Koonibba. and expands inland, covering projectile calculations of over 200 kilometers inland, deep into Kokatha Country. The rockets will shot into the earth’s atmosphere, discarding the used rocket booster and crash landing onto Kokatha women’s country.

Once the rockets have entered into the atmosphere, electronic defence satellites will be ejected into orbit.
The satellites will be used to assist Australian military to operate
drones and other unmanned, on ground vehicles, expanding their
operations to include space. Reminiscent of military operation testings in the area, Maralinga and Emu Fields lay testament to the damage and impact on future generations, that the Pitjantjatjara people must bare.

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NextGen Rising

The next generation of creatives standing up for what they believe in and for the future of the planet.

SYNOPSIS: NextGen Rising is a creative grassroots participatory feature film and series with a thematic focus on the next generation’s perspective on the climate emergency.

Similar in process to the feature film “One Day on Earth”, we aim to mobilise a diverse range of multicultural, multidisciplinary creatives and dare them to ask the difficult questions about their future.

Stories will start in Australia and then spread out as we connect with creatives worldwide – from social media personalities, filmmakers, writers, singers, dancers, painters, photographers, comedians, animators and performers and through their eyes and voices we will foster an inventive, imaginative, originative exploration of the global climate emergency.

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New Year’s Day

12 months on from 19-20 Summer Bushfires, what impact has the disaster had on the young people of the Shoalhaven?

SYNOPSIS: Summer holidays in the idyllic Shoalhaven ( South Coast, NSW ) embodies all the elements of a dreamy Australian childhood on the coast; Hot days spent on white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, uncrowded surf breaks, the local take-away shop, skipping school & getting up to mischief with friends, traditionally culminating with a ‘scorcher’ Christmas day & New Year’s Eve fireworks down on the foreshore. But during the summer of 2019-20 that all drastically changed.

January 1st 2020 went down on record as one of the worst days in history for summer fires across Australia, & in particular, the Shoalhaven region with approximately 80% of the Shoalhaven impacted or burned by fire. 12 months on from the event, & with the forest of the Shoalhaven starting to show signs of regeneration, how do the young people (15-25 yrs.) of the community feel in the wake of the devastating fires? Have their experiences made them stronger, & at what cost? What is the collective mood of the young people in the community? Has the picture-perfect south coast “Australian summer” changed for good?

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Regenerate Australia

What would Australia look like in ten years if we simply listened to the needs of its people?

SYNOPSIS: Regenerate Australia is a multi-phase project seeking to identify, scale and replicate regenerative, community-led solutions for a cleaner, fairer and regenerative recovery from last summer’s catastrophic bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past 2 months we have been listening to rural and urban Australians across a range of ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and political persuasions. Social research agency Sentio were commissioned to conduct in-depth interviews, small focus groups and town hall discussions with the people and communities with most at stake, and the most to contribute to, regenerating Australia.

They have bravely shared their experiences of the past 10 months but more importantly, shared their hopes and dreams of an improved Australia that could emerge from this moment. Amongst their frustrations with decision makers, their anger at the mismanagement of landscapes and the sadness of all that has been lost, their united catch cry is a yearning for empowered and reinvigorated communities.

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A world-first canoe voyage that redefined adventure and inspired a nation

SYNOPSIS: Danish filmmaker Thor F. Jensen, under the apprenticeship of three Papua New Guinean master sailors, Justin John, Sanakoli John and Job Siyae, sets off from Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea on a world-first circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailau (sailing canoe) called the Tawali Pasana.

While Thor wants to tell a contemporary story of the island, the sailors wish to inspire new generations of sailors, but the team soon realise that the journey is much more difficult than first anticipated. Thor is forced to rethink his position on the canoe and the sailors have to adapt their traditional skills as they face the deadly North West Monsoon. Over the course of 13 months and 21 days and 6300 km – dodging trecherous reefs, witchcraft and crocodiles – the fellowship of the Tawali Pasana captures the imagination of the island. But to reach the finish line they must all make sacrifices.

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Saving the Wild

Monsters take many forms. From the man-eating lions to people who hunt them.

SYNOPSIS: Saving the Wild takes a new approach to telling stories about conservation by showing its triumphs as well as tragedies. The films take us into the complex, tooth and claw world of Africa’s wild, offering revealing insights into the lives of the most iconic and dangerous animals on earth and the very real risks of protecting them.

With cutting-edge research and heartbreaking corruption, Saving the Wild will both alarm and entertain. It offers a look into the future of Africa’s wildlife, one in which the politics of conservation will require survival strategies far more creative and powerful than those practised anywhere in the world today. It’s a series that shows courage against impossible odds, a masterly blend of science, adventure, and storytelling, and an urgent call to action that will captivate a new generation of viewers.

Crossing international borders and sharing touching stories, the series is undiluted, showing both triumph and tragedy. The work is often brutal and occasionally confronting, however, it’s the reality of what’s necessary for effective conservation.

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Stradbroke Island: An Island in Limbo

We know the history of Stradbroke Island, but the future of the island is far less certain.

SYPNOSIS: Stradbroke Island has long been one of Australia’s most picturesque tourism destinations, but it has also been the site of sand mines, typhus quarantine zones, asylums, and contentious land battles since the island was first colonised. In recent years, the Queensland Government and Redland City Council have closed the sand mines on North Stradbroke Island, and announced that a large area of land which had just been handed back to the Quandamooka people, the traditional custodians of Stradbroke Island, would be the site of one of the largest residential developments on the island.

This documentary seeks to explore the Island’s rich history and how they have struggled due to poor planning, isolation, land disputes and COVID-19. Representatives from the Island with interesting and impactful stories will share their experiences with the end of sand mining on the island, the lockdown of an already isolated island paradise and having Indigenous land changing hands near constantly.

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Tall Poppy

Filmed over 10 years this intimate portrait captures coming of age inside the world of competitive skateboarding.

SYNOPSIS: We meet Poppy at 19, when she’s on the precipice of not only becoming an adult but also representing Australia for the Summer Olympics. The film takes you into Poppy’s everyday ordinary world from when she first picks up a skateboard at 8 years old until everything in her life is thrown up in the air in the wake of the pandemic. The story traverses Poppy’s adolescence, she falls in love with skateboarding and travels to international competitions, winning (& losing), graduating high school, maintaining & losing friendships all the while attempting to remain calm under the pressure of being number 1. We often think of coming of age in the obvious.

This film captures Poppy’s story in the incremental and everyday imperceptible choices that stack up over time & along the way become pivotal to show the transition from girlhood to adult. It’s this journey; the creation of character I am interested in revealing…Particularly for women and particularly in this time.

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The Big Shift

Everyday people changing their lives to protect our changing planet.

SYNOPSIS:  Unprecedented drought, fires, floods, and a global pandemic warn that our natural world is in crisis, yet the Australian government refuses to act. Instead, trailblazing everyday people are stepping up and tackling climate change and biodiversity loss themselves, transitioning away from environmentally destructive careers and launching innovative projects and entrepreneurial start-ups to create a cleaner, greener planet.

Filmed over two-years from July 2019, the three-part documentary series THE BIG SHIFT follows passionate advocates and their inspirational transitions from contributing to the problem to being part of the solution.

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The Witchdoctor and the Windmill

The last senior Pintupi female artist of her era uses her art to look back on her memories of the coming in period.

SYNOPSIS:  “The Witchdoctor and the Windmill” explores the life of the Pintupi artist, Linda Syddick Napaltjarri.

After her father’s death in a revenge spearing, Linda came in from the Pintupi homelands and was taught to paint by her adoptive father, Shorty Tjungurray.

Her insistence she had Shorty’s permission to paint his stories cast her as a maverick and led to a rift between family and community.

This narrative documentary explores the personal and community struggles and larger themes of colliding cultures as the Pintupi confronted new and bewildering intrusions into country; atomic testing, art as gestalt for grief, fractured families, and loss of country.

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Who I Am

A transgender teen on the spectrum learns to be himself with the help of his original animated characters, The Fallens.

SYNOPSIS: Charlie Miles is a 14-year-old transgender boy who also has an autism diagnosis. Research shows that people on the spectrum are more likely to be trans or gender diverse, but little is known about why.

Who I Am follows Charlie’s social transition, with a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced when coming out to family, making friends, accessing healthcare, and learning self-love. The story is told through observational moments and Charlie’s own animated characters, The Fallens, coming to life.

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Watcha Doin’ Today

Art is a lifeline accessible to everyone, it’s time to express yourself.

SYNOPSIS: WATCHA DOIN’ TODAY follows Australian artists on their quest to find their way through turbulent times. Using their art as both guide and comforter, they paint an authentic human face on a variety of struggles, both familiar and unique.

We meet 2020 Wynne Prize finalist, Julianne, whose senses are spectacularly reawakened while self-isolating. Amani, a self-taught 2018 Archibald Prize finalist, turns to writing and painting as a way to express her trauma after her father killed her mother. Mikey, newly living with cancer, finds a French artistic partner online. And, actress Emma, whose exploration of TikTok turns her into an LGBTQ sensation and thought-leader.

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