PUBLISHED13 Dec 2021

New Documentary Projects – December 2021

As the year comes to an end - we are excited to welcome 16 new projects to the Documentary Australia platform!

10 Years in Full Colour

A decade ago, 12 queer teenagers stole our hearts in a raw coming-of-age documentary film. You should see them now.

SYNOPSIS: ’10 Years in Full Colour’ is the second film in an ongoing documentary series tracing the lives and loves of 10 LGBTQA+ individuals. With a new film planned for release every 10 years, this is an Australian first. Never before has a series followed and documented queer lives in this way – and at such a momentous time in the historic fight for LGBTIQA+ equality.

A decade on, ’10 Years in Full Colour’ revisits our participants, now in their 20s, and we find out what’s changed in their lives, and discover where they’re at now. Some of them have transitioned. Others have become powerful activists. One or two became quite famous. A few have found the love of their lives.

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A Wombat Named Bimbo

The story of two forgotten Australians – Bimbo, a cartoon wombat, and his creator, pioneer animator, Eric Porter.

SYNOPSIS:  ‘A Wombat Named Bimbo’ is a journey into a forgotten era in Australia’s film and cultural history, going back to the late 1930s when a young self-taught animation enthusiast named Eric Porter set out to fulfil his vision of creating Australian animated films that would feature Australian characters and Australian stories.

Porter was convinced that the public would welcome this change of diet from the familiar saturation in Hollywood product. Inspired by Disney’s animation style and techniques, Porter created the character of a wombat named Willy and scraped funding and improvised technically to complete a short animated film called ‘Waste Not Want Not’. It was received warmly by those who saw it and was taken up by the Commonwealth Bank as a commercial, comic books featuring Willy were published, as was the sheet music for a song about Willy. After the war, Porter continued with the Wombat idea but was persuaded to change Willy’s name to Bimbo, fearing that American markets would be closed to a film about an unfamiliar animal like a wombat. Two Bimbo cartoons were made but distribution was a problem and they did not sell well. Porter moved into advertising (a story told in our previous documentary, ‘Animating Aeroplane Jelly’) and then into television, and made Australia’s first animated feature film, ‘Marco Polo Versus the Red Dragon’.

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Black Cockatoo Crisis

Time is running out for Western Australia’s iconic black cockatoos.

SYNOPSIS:  Western Australia’s iconic black cockatoos are in crisis. Their numbers have fallen dramatically over the past few decades and all three species in the southwest of WA could become extinct in just 20 years unless something is done to protect their habitats. With the loss of the banksia woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain to housing, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos have come to depend on the once vast exotic pine plantations on Perth’s northern fringe.

These pine plantations supply up to half of all the food needed to keep the population of Carnaby’s alive but these too are disappearing. Within the next two years, the remaining 6000ha of pines are slated for clearing leaving the cockatoos facing possible starvation.

Meanwhile, the Baudin’s Black Cockatoos are literally being shot out of the sky in an unequal battle for food with apple and pear growers in Perth’s hills. And the Red Tail Forest Black Cockatoos are under threat from the loss of nesting hollows and declining habitat.

Black Cockatoo Crisis looks at the plight of our special cockatoos and what we can do to stop these threatened species disappearing for ever. The clock is ticking on our black cockatoos. Will we save them in time?

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The Buddy System

Follow two best friends with disability as they break down barriers to become independent and move into their own home.

SYNOPSIS: The Buddy System follows the lives of two young friends with disability as they prepare to move into their first house together as roommates. Ben is a 21-year-old with Down Syndrome, he is colourful, passionate and very outgoing, the most important thing to him is his community. His friend Zac is a 23-year-old with Kabuki syndrome, quieter, responsible and a bit more serious than Ben. The two share a love of banter, practical jokes, and superheroes.

Both have never lived out of home before. Ben is taking cooking classes, learning how to ride a bike and building an apparel business. Zac is busy finishing up TAFE, and has just started a new job. Together they are learning about independence and trying to prepare themselves before making the leap, but with the house already in construction, they’ll need a lot of support from family and each other to help achieve their goal.

They will share their struggles, their hopes, and their goals for the future as we watch them on their journey. The Buddy System is a documentary about the importance of independence, adult friendships, and community for people with disability. This documentary aims to provoke a discussion for young adults with disability about undertaking a similar journey themselves.

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First Wars

A 3 episode series documentary series that tells the story of Australia’s frontier conflict.

SYNOPSIS: First Wars is a 3 x 1-hour documentary series for SBS Television that tells story of Australia’s frontier conflict. Delving into the archival record of Australia, it brings the major battles, military tactics and the historical figures who engaged in this land battle that swept the country over a hundred year period. These are the wars that established the new nation Australia. From the battles in the upper Hawkesbury in 1791 and across the continent to the final stages of pastoral supremacy in the Kimberley.

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GOSTU! Culinary Diplomacy in Timor-Leste

GOSTU! An Extraordinary Story of Australian and Timor- Leste Culinary Diplomacy.

SYNOPSIS: GOSTU! will be the first ever documentary series on Timor-Leste’s rich history – through its bio-diversity, culture and culinary heritage. It is a fascinating and original visual adventure around Asia’s newest nation and Australia’s least known neighbour.

GOSTU! will explore Timor-Leste’s new “open-for-business” enthusiasm through its emerging generation of tourism professionals. Highlighting the skills transfer between two Australian social entrepreneurs and the energetic team at the Timor-Leste Food Lab and Agora Food Studio, the documentary series will showcase a stunning combination of history, culture, tourism and food – rare, wild foods, hybrid coffee forests, ingenious food preparation methods never-before-seen by international audiences. Themes include – the potential for sustainable tourism including food and coffee on Australia’s doorstep, the paradox of island economies – cheap imports vs high biodiversity – empowering young Timorese to turn their traditional food knowledge into modern innovative cuisine and coffees for local recognition and international audiences.

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Growing the Pot

A coal mining town is transforming from black to green, but not everyone agrees on cannabis being one of the industries.

SYNOPSIS: Growing the Pot is a documentary film about the town of Collie in the South West of Australia. This film will explore the impact and complications over a year on the townspeople’s lives as the town changes from black coal to green cannabis. There are a wealth of intriguing stories to be told during this period. From the generational coal mining families worried about their financial survival to a new wave of careers available to struggling country teenagers and then the ever-vocal anti-cannabis townsfolk who are concerned about the people that “drugs” will bring to town to those that are sceptical but may end up benefiting from cannabis-based medicine.

For more than 90 years, the coal mining town of Collie has been helping power Western Australia. The town’s two mines produce WA’s entire coal supply and fuel the state’s three power stations which churned out 70 per cent of the state’s electricity. The demand for coal is plummeting and with the clock ticking on the future of Collie the state government has stepped in with a $20million Collie Future fund to transition the town into the 21st Century and beyond.

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The Invisible Woman

Would you make different choices if you knew the risk of retiring into poverty? Would you design a different life plan?

SYNOPSIS:The Invisible Woman is a documentary series aiming to educate and empower women of all ages to fight for gender and age equity through sharing the personal experiences of Australian women while contrasting them with current research.

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Just Like Us

The enduring story of some Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander teens who took a life-changing journey to Hollywood.


20 years ago, a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teens saved up to go to Hollywood. It took them 18 months, $1 at a time, but that’s where they wanted to go and they made it happen. Never in their wildest dreams did they think they could go to Hollywood, yet through their own determination, and on a deeply visceral level, they learned that the world was their oyster.

It takes a visionary to believe that teenagers living a marginalised and isolated existence in a remote indigenous community, could break through generations of hardship, to make a dream come true. Sharon Cavanagh-Luskin (formerly Bonython-Ericson) was, and continues to be, that visionary

This documentary captures the growth through the eyes of those teenagers (now adults) as a transformative part of a new generation in Yarrabah. Now, 20 years later and with 50 hours of film footage capturing their life-changing Hollywood experience, they still talk emotionally and powerfully about how impactful the trip has been, not only for them but for their siblings and upcoming generations in their beloved community for whom they became eminent mentors.

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The Last Violin

When Romano asks retired master violinmaker, Harry Vatiliotis, to make one last violin a heart-warming story unfolds.


Charalambos Vatiliotis, or Harry, is considered Australia’s greatest living violin maker. He and his wife Maria came from Cyprus in the 1950s. Romano Crivici, a professional violinist and composer, has known Harry for 48 years. Together they share the making of Romano’s last violin which also threatens to be Harry’s last, as the ravages of old age take their toll.

Shot in the one location – the home in the suburbs of Sydney which Harry and Maria have shared for over 60 years – the director has spent many days over many months charting the making of Harry and Romano’s last violin within the context of the love, friendship and care that each of the three protagonists shares.

The director has been hands-off and observational, capturing the intimate and meditative process of hand-making a fine violin from a few rough pieces of wood together with the, often comical, interactions between Harry, Maria, and Romano their friend of many years. An important element is an exquisite score by Romano Crivici performed on Harry’s instruments.

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The New Joneses – Road Trip

The Race is ON to save the planet.

SYNOPSIS: What do Hollywood actor, Yael Stone, cooking-champion, Nat’s What I Reckon + screen legend, Stephen Curry have to do with climate change? They’re on board THE NEW JONESES ROAD TRIP. The digi-doco series shows simple stuff we can do at home to be part of the solution.

When Nat’s heard Yael gave up her green card to lighten her carbon footprint, Nat wanted to know how to lighten his.
Yael suggests a road-trip.
Nat enlists Slatts Everyday (thrash-band, King Parrot) to take up the mission to meet the peeps doing good and share how we can all get onboard.

More info.

Nobody’s Daughter

Two women, a chance meeting, shared history and a journey to discover how tradition intersects with abuse.

SYNOPSIS: ‘Nobody’s Daughter’ tells the story of 16 year old Rima Tawil, who survived her father’s attempt to kill her, but was forced to live the rest of her life in hiding.
Her story is told by Didem Caia, whose disappearance at the age of three, while on an access visit with her father, prompted a massive police search.
Rima and Didem met by chance and after discovering their similar histories, forged by culture, tradition and misogyny, became close friends. In 2019, Rima died from breast cancer, alone, defeated and broken-hearted. Didem’s story could have ended as Rima’s did, if not for a mother who refused to obey an archaic, abusive code of male behaviour.

More info.

OUTRAGEOUS The Queer History of Aussie TV

TV historian and author Andrew Mercado is investigating why representation on screen is so powerful.

SYNOPSIS: TV historian Andrew Mercado is investigating how queer people have been portrayed on Australian television over the decades and how every queer milestone happened on TV down under before the rest of the world.

Australian television used to be a world leader. Thanks to our groundbreaking programs in the 70’s, there were more LGBT characters on Aussie TV than the rest of the world combined. And they weren’t niche or one-off programs buried outside prime time, they were the top rating programs of the day, proving Aussies were accepting of queer people on TV.

Queer people disappeared from TV during the AIDS crisis in the 80’s. Bringing Mardi Gras to TV in the 90’s was hugely controversial. But by the 21st century, reality shows got with the program. So too did Australian drama and comedy which finally began introducing queer characters that were also Indigenous and multicultural.

Today, gay icons like Courtney Act, Kylie Minogue, Josh Thomas and Hannah Gadsby are known all over the world. So let’s look back and investigate the trailblazers who paved the way for them.

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Rising to the Occasion

A deep dive into the language of violence faced by female environmental activists in Tasmania.

SYNOPSIS: Featuring the voice of netball in Australia, Sue Gaudion, Rising to the Occasion is a story of dedication, commitment, athleticism, discrimination and adversity, offering an intriguing view into the world of men’s netball.

The personal stories within the documentary are moving and inspiring, revealing the hidden truths behind men’s netball, through exploring the unique challenges, misconceptions and bullying boys and men continue to face whilst aspiring to greatness in what is still a female dominated sport.

Some of these stories are being told publicly for the very first time. The importance of each of their journeys lies in the history that came before them and the legacy they will leave for future generations.

More info.

This is Us

The players from Australia’s national women’s football team, shine a light on the country’s gender equality score card.

SYNOPSIS: This independent feature documentary is being made in collaboration with current players and allies of Australia’s national women’s football team, in association with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

The film will be launched on the eve of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia & New Zealand.

In this film the custodians of the story of women’s football in Australia are given a voice and by telling their story the film utilises this game-changing moment, when the eyes of the world are on Australia, to shine a light on the country’s gender equality score card.

We celebrate the players hard-fought battle for visibility, recounting how these ground-breaking women, supported by the PFA, confronted inequality at the highest levels with their audacious 2015 boycott of a U.S tour, leading to their 2019 achievement as one of the first women’s national teams in world football to receive equal pay to their male counterparts.

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Watandar | My Countryman

As his country is lost to the Taliban, Afghan photographer Muzafar Ali finds a new community in the Australian desert.

SYNOPSIS: When the Taliban take over Afghanistan, former Afghan-Hazara refugee and human rights activist, Muzafar Ali, is photographing the descendants of the Afghan Cameleers in Australia. He now knows he can never return home and his photography project becomes an even more personal journey about losing your country and the importance of identity.

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Wendy Sharpe: Site Unseen

Archibald winning Artist, Wendy Sharpe, creates a 40-metre mural that would never be seen.

SYNOPSIS: Multi-award winning artist Wendy Sharpe sketches, draws and paints her most personal work yet.

Inside the Sydney Jewish Museum, as their first artist-in-residenece, Wendy draws her grandmother Bessie Cohen for the first time. We hear how Bessie used to sing the Yiddish song Vu iz dos gesele (Where is the little street)? The song is the title of the exhibition and is about looking for a place that no longer exists.

Sydney’s COVID lockdown coincided with the public’s only opportunity to see the mural.

Wendy liked the poetic nature of the destruction, mirroring the yiddish song and the work itself becoming a memory. But her desire was to share the mural and engage with the public before it was destroyed.

Major building works at the Museum have seen the mural smashed, cut through and painted over.

Wendy Sharpe: Site Unseen gives us the opportunity to experience Wendy’s quirky personality, artistic process and the refugee experience through her intergenerational trauma.

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