PUBLISHED12 Jul 2022

New Documentary Projects – July 2022

We've had one of our biggest rounds with 23 new project joining Documentary Australia - check them out below!

BROMLEY: Light after Dark

Art saved his life, but that’s just the beginning of David Bromley’s story…

SYNOPSIS: David Bromley found that art appeased the voices in his head and helped him find beauty in the world. So he made the life-changing decision to commit his whole being to something meaningful.

Light after Dark takes us into the world of this prominent Australian artist. With intimate access, we peel away the layers of anxiety, phobias and suicide survival, whilst embracing the humour, energy, and love that is ever-present in the Bromley world. David’s journey is not complete without his wife Yuge and it’s through this powerful partnership that we witness firsthand the fragility of David’s world and state of mind. As the Bromley’s live their authentic lives, interviews with friends, critics and musicians add perspectives and insight on creative process, mental health, and commercialisation of art.

Ultimately Light after Dark is a love story for the ages and a rousing exploration of life and creativity. As David himself says, “art saved my life”. But that’s just the beginning of this story…

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Mary worked as a nurse in Australia’s detention Centres during their darkest days. What she has to say is shocking.

SYNOPSIS:  Complicit is an animated documentary feature based on the experiences of Mary Brabenec- a nurse who worked at Australia’s Detention Centres. Mary witnessed firsthand the treatment of refugees shift from humane to “absolutely shameful”. In 2001, ‘Stop the Boats’ became the Howard government’s catch cry and refugees became ‘illegals’, following the notorious Tampa incident, when Australia refused 400 refugees safe passage into Australia, though their boat was sinking.

Using the animation technique of rotoscoping, Complicit creates a fresh and impactful statement about Australia’s position on refugees. Rotoscoping allows both Mary’s real face and images from her frank and detailed story to coexist in the same frame creating a screen story audiences will want to engage with.Complicit will leave audiences asking questions about Australia’s management of humanitarian issues, racism and our capacity to challenge decisions made by those we have elected.

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Dale Frank Artist!

The improbable life of famous Australian contemporary artist Dale Frank is as ‘magnificent and strange’ as his artwork.

SYNOPSIS:  In a few short months, Dale Frank – Australia’s foremost contemporary and conceptual artist – will hold his 40th exhibition at Sydney’s exclusive Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Over five decades, Dale has wrought a celebrated and notorious career: his biomorphic abstracts, rock-chic installations and signature use of wildly-pigmented varnish have seen his unique opus described as “majestic and strange”.

A highly successful and prolific abstract artist, Dale’s work has been widely collected all over the world. Through this unusually candid biography we learn what it means (and takes) to be a professional artist at the top of the game. The stakes are high: the art world is fickle, and Dale spends as lavishly as he creates.

Throughout the trials and tribulations of preparing for the exhibition, Dale battles his inner demons. He’s also in debilitating pain from a chronic illness, but his capacity for hard work bulldozes through and ultimately we have an inspirational story of a young boy from the back-blocks who dreamt up a big life… and went out and made it happen.

Dale has successfully pursued his life’s work and dreams with talent, ambition and dogged determination. Now, due to illness, his working life is winding down and his legacy is at hand. How (and when) do you put the finishing touches on your career?

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Eating Plants

EATING PLANTS is an upbeat digital series that explores the world’s fastest-growing culinary trend of plant-based eating

SYNOPSIS:  EATING PLANTS is an upbeat digital series that explores the world’s fastest-growing culinary trend of plant-based eating. The hosts engage with the experts who are creating plant-based alternatives. Packed with ideas from doctors, athletes, influencers, and chefs leading the movement who are effecting change in cooking, health, and the planet. Each episode is filmed in the top vegan culinary destinations with a special host as we travel to America, Germany, Israel, the UK, China, and Australia.

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Equal the Contest

When the rules exclude you, rewrite them.

SYNOPSIS: In 2021, the Mt Alexander Falcons football team had their application to play football in the Central Victorian AFL community league rejected without reason. Instead of folding, the club led by and for, women and gender-diverse people, push forward, fighting assumptions about gender, age, ability and tradition, building a football club from scratch with inclusion and diversity at its core.

In the process, the club attracts diverse players, many who have never had access to the game, including the filmmaker Mitch. Mitch documents their experience learning footy at 42 while wearing cameras attached to their body during practice matches against supporting clubs. The film provides access to a new AFL perspective, giving visibility to those rarely represented. Players learn far more than how to play footy as the club awaits it’s opportunity to submit an application to play again in 2023. Will they finally be accepted?

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The Folau Effect

A freedoms warrior to some, a homophobic bigot to others – what Israel Folau’s case says about Australia

SYNOPSIS: When Israel Folau posted his infamous ‘gays will go to hell unless they repent’ messages to social media, it ended his career, brought Rugby Australia to its knees and divided the nation in the process. Folau, by choice or otherwise, became an instant pawn in the culture wars in which only those with a megaphone are heard.

Many in the Pasifika diaspora were frustrated that their voices – arguably the voices of the people most effected by it all – were entirely dismissed or ignored. In the Folau Effect we will hear from them – rugby players, queer and straight, and other Pasifika voices with much to say about faith, football and sexuality.

It is an effort to combat the simplification of issues at play in Israel’s story – in order to improve empathy and understanding on both sides. Because if we don’t, then how can we profess to promote diversity and inclusion in the same breath?

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Generation Rent

The death of the Great Australian Dream.

SYNOPSIS: Struggling to keep a roof over your head is now the reality for most Young Australians in Australia. It is a socially accepted rite of passage and their vulnerability, stress, and homelessness is just a ‘part of growing up’.

We want to share true stories of how young Australians are living through this generational crisis, from the powerlessness of being a private renting, floating in and out of homeless situations, and the loss of hope for ever owning a home and starting a family. Immediate action must be taken by our political leaders to ensure young Australians have access to safe and affordable housing, and address the ticking intergenerational time-bomb that is “Generation Rent”.

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Havana Meets Kingston

Oceans Apart, United in Song

SYNOPSIS: On a clear day, Cuba and Jamaica can see each other across the Caribbean Sea. Despite being two of the most influential musical nations in the world, channels deeper than water have kept them apart. In Cuba, travel outside of the country is nearly impossible. In Jamaica, the dream of performing internationally is reserved for top-tier musicians. So, when word of a groundbreaking collaborative music project, led by Australian Reggae and Dancehall producer Mista Savona, spreads across the Caribbean – hopeful artists from both countries flock to the studio vying for a spot on the album. They are joined by a diverse ensemble of legendary musicians, from Grammy award- winning Jamaican duo Sly and Robbie to members of the Buena Vista Social Club.From the seed of an idea to a critically-acclaimed album and epic world tour, which culminates in a performance at the career-defining Royal Albert Hall, Havana Meets Kingston follows these artists as they push musical, personal, political and geographical boundaries. What starts with the quest of uniting two cultures, to create a ‘new sound’ – culminates in a story about the most human thing of all – the desire to have your voice heard.

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Left Write Hook

For 8 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, a new program turns into a journey of recovery, transformation and friendship.

SYNOPSIS: In early 2020, seven women responded to a call-out to participate in an 8-week experimental recovery program. The program supports survivors of childhood sexual assault by addressing both the physical and emotional impacts of trauma through a unique combination of boxing and creative writing. What begins as an 8-week program soon becomes much more as these survivors build bonds with one another and with their coach that lead to transformations they could only have dreamed of.

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Life After Coal

Artists from a soon-to-be ex-coal mining town explore what life after coal could look like in Australia.

SYNOPSIS: Life After Coal is set against the backdrop of Morwell, a Victorian mining town perched on the edge of the world’s largest open-cut brown coal mine, and two power stations one set to close by 2028. The economic landscape of an area once responsible for producing 85% of Victoria’s electricity is changing drastically.

In the face of an unknown future, those that are setting a new agenda are not the politicians or the coal executives, but community groups and activists.
A group of colourful local artists, determined to delve into the inherited wicked problem facing their home, have a plan. Through exploration of identity, technology, history and politics, their artworks help the townspeople to envision a future and process the collective trauma of the end of the fossil fuel era. Paving the way for what life after coal could look like in Australia and the world.

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The Oldest Song on Earth

An ancient Ngarrindjeri song, thought lost forever, is about to be sung again.

SYNOPSIS: Carroll Karpany is excited and scared. He is a 70 year old Ngarrindjeri musician from the Coorong, South Australia; who grew up on a colonial mission, far from his traditional lands, cut off from his culture’s wellspring of stories & songs.

In the absence of his traditional song & dance, Carroll made his own. He learnt electric guitar and started Us Mob, Australia’s first Aboriginal politics rock-band.

Us Mob exploded onto the scene with screaming guitars and searing vocals, expressing the anger and frustration of young Aboriginal people, and inspiring a generation.

Carroll searched for his lost Ngarrindjeri culture, collecting remnants of language and music here and there. He met Lil, the love of his life, and they had three sons.

They travelled the world, playing music; and they taught their sons as much dance, language, and culture as they could, but the ancient Ngarrindjeri song and dance was always missing…until now.

Carroll recently discovered that his Ngarrindjeri songs and dances didn’t disappear completely with European invasion, some survived thousands of kilometres away, on an ancient connected songline. For over 150 years this Ngarrindjeri cultural treasure has been kept in safe keeping, protected from the crushing forces of colonialism by the song-men of the Bunuba people of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Now, Carroll has been asked to come and get them.

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Pure Dance

The story of an ancient dance and one teacher’s quest to create healthy minds and bodies and help others heal themselves

SYNOPSIS: Never before have the impacts of mental ill-health been so acute as during the pandemic. Levels of stress, anxiety and worry have reached an all-time high. In Australia, almost half of all adults will face mental ill-health during their lives.
Governments and NGO’s around the world are facing an epidemic. It is not only mental health that we need to nurture, but also our physical health. Around Australia, the issue of creating resilient communities by ensuring good health and wellbeing is being talked about everywhere.

Pure Dance is a stunning visual exploration of an ancient form of movement that can help offer a solution to building resilient communities and ensuring positive health and wellbeing. It is a story with unforgettable characters and breathtaking landscapes about an ancient dance that can help create healthy minds and bodies.

Yoga practitioner and teacher, Adelaide-born Emma Balnaves has devoted her life to creating a healthy mind and body by mastering the techniques of the ancient yogis. With a growing and devoted following globally, the impacts of Emma’s teachings on her students are clear: quality of life is greatly enhanced with mindfulness and movement, inner freedom and peace.

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Redacted: Who Killed Fred Wong?

Was Fred Wong murdered by ASIO? An investigation by his grandkids reveals Australia’s history of anti-Asian racism.

SYNOPSIS: Was Australian born Chinese, Fred Wong (1906-1948) killed for being a suspected communist by ASIO in a climate of anti-Chinese sentiment? This documentary reflects upon the personal journey of his granddaughter, Kristina and grandniece, Tammy to uncover the story behind the suspicious death of their ancestor Kenneth Frederick Wong (Wong Gar Kin). Fred’s story of dedication to humanitarian activity in an era of White Australia (1901-1940s) discrimination, eerily echoes the rising anti-Chinese sentiment of today.

This documentary looks to reveal the history of racism against Asians in Australia and the government policies now and existing that enable this discrimination.

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Rohingya Boy

A Rohingya refugee who risked everything to reach Australia, becomes the world’s first Rohingya body building champion.

SYNOPSIS:  ‘Rohingya Boy’ follows the rise of Noor Kabir; the world’s first Rohingya Body Building Champion.

Noor Kabir was born in a Bangladeshi Refugee camp, where he and his family struggled to survive. Without enough food or clean water, he struggled to have any hope for a life beyond the struggles and dangers that exist within the world’s largest refugee camp. But when he was in his early teens, he decided to run from the camp into mainland Bangladesh, where he found people in a tent watching the movie ‘Rocky’. What he saw was a kind of ‘magic’. He had never seen a television before and seeing this movie created a desire in him to have something better in his life. This was the beginning of a long and dangerous journey to Australia. After spending three years in community detention, he was released in Brisbane, where he found something he could do – lifting weights. With a dream to represent the Rohingya, he set himself the goal of one day becoming Mr Olympia.With strict determination, he transformed himself, and in early 2021, became the world’s first Rohingya body building champion by winning the Brisbane Classic. His win not only went ‘viral’ online, with millions of views and international media, but generated a huge response from Rohingya people around the world, who see Noor Kabir as a Rohingya hero.

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This dance community is transforming the lives of an unlikely group of people forever.

SYNOPSIS: In a world where we are increasingly disconnected, Dancehall culture is bringing hope to Australians. For retiree John it offers a way to rebuild his self-esteem post-divorce but, having never danced before, can he learn the steps? For workaholic Kayla, finding a place to express herself around other women of colour is a lifeline. For grieving Sam, dance is helping her to process her trauma. Will this unlikely troupe help each other heal as they prepare to take to the stage?

SHAKE celebrates some of Jamaica’s most prolific dancers, now living in Australia, and the many lives they have transformed through their inclusive Dancehall programs. Each dance step in Dancehall has been created to reflect real life: whether it’s dishing out the rice at dinner, collecting your paycheque from the ATM, loving or fighting, Dancehall offers participants a radical, endorphin inducing way to express themselves. And it’s taken Australia by storm.

This film is about much more than dance, it’s about finding social connection, meaning behind movement, physical empowerment, and a way to process trauma. SHAKE reimagines our notions of dance by celebrating culturally and gender diverse participants aged from 7 to 70 on stage for the first time. This dynamic, feel-good film will have audiences dancing, literally!

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She Flys

Women often make better pilots, so why are only 5% of pilots female, and 1.42% of all captains are female?

SYNOPSIS: She Flys is a series that gives women an opportunity to be free from everything that can weigh them down, it lifts them high above issues they may be facing and shows women that they can do anything.

With only 5% of pilots in the world being women, we aim to show that anyone can do it and that no matter how successful a woman is in life, there are always new heights to reach as they work through the issues on the way to their goals like online bullying, workplace harassment, guilt, and fear.

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Solastalgia – Journeys Through a Scarred Landscape

SOLASTALGIA journeys through an Australian continent – pockmarked with mine sites that have upended our notion of home.

SYNOPSIS: The Hunter Valley region in south-eastern Australia was once known as the ‘Tuscany of the South’. But in just the last generation, it turned into a densely cratered moonscape as the region became a mecca for mega open-cut coal mines.

It has led to the diagnosis of a new sickness afflicting the Hunter and other communities who experience monumental alterations to their environment – ‘Solastalgia’. It is the feeling you have when you’re home but experience a nostalgia for a place that no longer exists.The Hunter is just one example of a nationwide problem. 80,000 abandoned mines dot the Australian landscape, many burdening future generations with their long-term environmental and financial impacts.Shot across the continent, ‘Solastalgia’ is an emotive journey into the lives of those whose sense of place has been upended by mining, exploring how the past interweaves with the present. It shows how the problems caused by abandoned mine sites are supercharged by the emergence of contemporary mega mines, including fossil fuel extracting sites that are fast becoming stranded assets, with devastating legacies.It can seem like an intractable problem, but ‘Solastalgia’ will also highlight the clever solutions that abound… should we care to acknowledge and embrace them.

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Songs Inside

Can these women prisoners sing their hearts out – and stay out?

SYNOPSIS: Most women leaving prison eventually end up back inside, but one woman and her guitar are proving that music can be a powerful tool for healing and redemption.

Singer-songwriter Nancy Bates has a lot in common with many women behind bars – she grew up in foster care, became a teenage mum, suffered from domestic violence, homelessness and mental illness. The only thing that saved her was music. Now she’s sharing her secret weapon for healing and survival in a ground-breaking music program. Nancy works with prisoners with diverse backgrounds and crimes — from drug trafficking to assault — teaching them how to write songs, sing and play the ukulele.

Her teaching opens up a whole new world to them. Their voices and ukuleles become tools for self-discovery and their songs become stories about love, pain, motherhood, loneliness, shame and hope. The rookie musicians must not only delve deep to find their creative voices, but also learn to collaborate as a group in a place where vulnerability and trust are huge risks. Soon, the music-making uncovers deep scars and forces the women to confront their past traumas and mistakes.

The program’s aim is to help prepare these women to get out – and some of them will. But can they stay out of trouble and continue to be part of the program on the outside? Release from prison is tough: burdened by a criminal record, addictions, precarious family relationships, mental illness and lack of job skills, they face a potentially hostile world of uncertainty, poverty and danger.

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Sound of Prayer

SOUND OF PRAYER is an unconventional film that weaves together crowd-sourced content exploring global spirituality.

SYNOPSIS: SOUND OF PRAYER is an unconventional feature documentary that weaves together crowd-sourced content exploring our varied human understandings of faith, rituals, and spiritual practice – an internal wish or request for knowledge expressed by a physical act. A spiritual journey around the world, from Turkey’s whirling dervishes to West African Vodun; featuring student protesters in Tiananmen Square to private home meditation to worshippers at sacred sites. Ultimately the film reconnects us all through the common pain and vibrancy of life, from birth to death.

The sounds of praying have been proven to have a healing quality. We plan on composing all the sounds received from videos into one global soundtrack to gift to the planet.

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Splice Here: A Projected Odyssey

A ‘Cineramic’ roller coaster ride through the rise, fall and rebirth of projected film.

SYNOPSIS: FILM IS DEAD! The mantra that accompanied the dawn of the digital projection age. But was it really true? Ten years ago it was clear to those of us who worked with film that the digital experience wasn’t remotely the same thing. So as the debate and the comparisons raged on, I decided to ask the people who would really know; my fellow projectionists. Does film have a future and how will our treasured movie memories live on?

The projectionist underground is a passionate, clandestine world and over time I came to realise that this disenfranchised community wasn’t just collecting film memorabilia; they were saving titles from extinction. Legacy cinema is facing a largely unknown digital danger. We may be the last generation to be able to experience great cinema as it was meant to be seen… on film.

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Stories In Stone

An epic global journey 70,000 years in the making, where humanity’s deepest questions may finally be answered.

SYNOPSIS: “Stories in Stone” explores collaborations between international scientists and first nations people on a quest to look beyond our history into our pre-history. To investigate the world’s oldest stories. To uncover the deep wisdom of a people who experienced, recorded and learnt from natural cataclysmic events and dramatic climatic change.

Humanity and all life is facing an existential crisis. Joe Biden, The President of the United States recently stated that climate change poses the greatest threat to civilization. Science tells us that we are contributing greatly to climate change through over use of fossil fuels and exploitation of nature. This new age has been named the “Anthropocene”, where humans dominate the planet like no other species has ever done before.

Dominion is hard wired into us today from our creation stories that form the foundations of civilization. So how can humanity ‘progress’ when it can see it is creating its own demise? This is a paradox and raises questions: What if we are looking for answers in the wrong places? Could solutions be found in our past? If the ancients could speak to us, what would they say?

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Up the Creek

Water is life. Increasingly, water is power. What can Australia teach the world?

SYNOPSIS: Water is life. Increasingly, water is power. Australia’s rivers, rural communities and many Indigenous groups’ way of life are under threat as climate change, a damaged political system, and greed threaten the collapse of a generations-deep way of life. But what if there were other ways?

This documentary follows a year in the life of three key stories across Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin; touching on issues affecting communities from California to Spain, India to South Africa.

We meet the young dairy farming family, a woman at its lead. The communities on the Darling River; that life-giving force to the Outback, and an environmental disaster in the making, as its wetlands and river red gum ecosystems suffer. And the ‘water bank’ team in Mildura working on a new model to ensure small-scale farmers can compete with the corporate players forcing the price of water out of reach.

With an engaging, informed host, we look at the challenges these communities face and why it matters to all of us: over-extraction of water, a changed and unpredictable climate, and the privatisation of water. Our host also lives rurally and has a keen eye for the change of the seasons, the climate, the local environment, and water. Over the course of a year (summer-summer) s/he checks in our protagonists, letting their narratives guide us. There is a personal journey for the host here, as well.

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Welcome to Yiddishland

This feature-length observational documentary is a big story about a little-known subculture making a significant impact

SYNOPSIS: WELCOME TO YIDDISHLAND takes us inside the Art and practices of a diverse and international group of innovative, radical artists, who are creating new works about the important issues of our time in the endangered Yiddish language .

Our film asks why they create in Yiddish, what it means to them personally and professionally, and what obstacles they must overcome to revive this richly expressive language. In the end, as we see these Artists come together in a joyous, vibrant, international festival to share their works, their skills, and their passion with the next generation, we witness the blossoming of a Yiddish cultural renaissance.

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