PUBLISHED11 Jun 2021

New Documentary Projects – June 2021

Check out the 20 new project's approved for fiscal sponsorship from across our seven impact areas.

A Blue Hope

Seaweed has the power to rewild and heal our world. This is where the story exploring the hope that lies within the blue.

SYNOPSIS: A Blue Hope is a documentary film that explores the ocean’s vast potential to; store large amounts of carbon using seaweed; reduce methane emissions in livestock through CSIRO’s seaweed feed; feed the world’s growing population in a rapidly changing climate using regenerative
methods; help protect the worlds largest coral reef, Australia’s very own ‘Great Barrier Reef’; reverse the impacts of climate change; and Explore the mindset shift required to make it all possible.

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A Certain Mother

A Certain Mother interweaves stories of five women from across Australia as they navigate the challenges of parenthood.

SYNOPSIS:  From the Dandenong Ranges to Sydney’s northern beaches, from rural pastures to an inner city flat – a single day unfolds for five women in the throes of motherhood. Whilst tending to the relentless demands of the day, they are determined to rise above the struggles that are close to their heart. Whether faced with disability, or their own anxieties, a weight-preoccupied teen or the biases of others, they are forced to deconstruct and redefine some of our culture’s most sacred ideals.

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The Beloved

An epic meditation on an audacious living experiment, and its untold aftermath.

SYNOPSIS:  The Beloved is a portrait of a group of individual spiritual seekers, all of whom once followed a mysterious calling and surrendered themselves and their way of life to a man and a belief in his vision. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or Osho as he is now known, was a controversial spiritual teacher from India who took disciples or ‘sannyasins’ from all over the world during the seventies and eighties.

The Beloved focuses on sannyasins and ex-sannyasins from the port city of Fremantle, Western Australia, where in 1981, the group established a large ‘satellite’ commune and ashram in the centre of town. The sannyasin living experiment set in motion fundamental changes to existing social structures and identities; new names, new appearance – orange and red clothing only – and a completely new focus: a ‘master’ and the promise of enlightenment.

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Bigger Than Me

Filmed over ten years – one woman’s quest to surf big waves.

SYNOPSIS: Bigger Than Me is a female coming-of-age film about the complexity of being a girl and the challenges that drive you as a woman to take on the elemental power of big waves.

Wrenna is a young woman with a fearless dream – a 6’ 2” natural with a body built for the ocean, she wants to be a big wave surfer. But she finds the discipline and sacrifice required to be a professional, extremely challenging. Growing up in New Jersey with hippy parents, her teenage years were spent caring for her younger siblings and schooling herself in the local library. At 19, Wrenna makes her pilgrimage to Hawaii’s North Shore risking it all on big waves.

She is confronted by the pressures of carving out a professional sporting life as a woman and without a sponsor she works two jobs to support her dream. Filming over ten years, from Oahu’s iconic big wave, Waimea Bay to the cold waters of Mavericks to the ultimate big wave of Pe’ahi (Jaws), we travel with Wrenna through the seasons, the highs and the lows of facing your fears – to find out how much bigger you can be.

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Do We Choose the Experience Our Trauma Teaches Us?

SYNOPSIS: When Yemi Penn realises her unresolved childhood trauma is affecting her ability to parent her own daughter, it catalyses her mission for healing and a deep dive into exploring traditional and non-traditional modalities. Wanting to confront her uncle who sexually abused her at the age of seven, Yemi travels back to Lagos, Nigeria. While there, she also sets out to speak to elders to understand her culture’s taboo around sexual abuse and its traditional ways of healing. She then revisits The UK and Japan, places which had held the allure of providing some escape for her as a traumatised young woman. But instead, became scenes for more painful experiences: broken relationships and a short failed marriage to a man she met online. Alongside the work of facing her past, Yemi speaks to psychologists, psychotherapists, alternative healers and those who have thrived after trauma. She starts to see that it’s possible to transmute pain into power. What would happen if we all did the work?

In this feature length documentary we also speak to the war veteran who struggled to assimilate back into civilian life, the cancer patient who has survived death numerous times and to the descendant who is still dealing with the aftermath, coming from a stolen generation.

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The Last Song: The Number Two Story

The Pilbara lore man known as “Number Two”, recounts his life as a cultural singer, stockman and leader in the community.

SYNOPSIS: Stephen Stewart known throughout the Pilbara region of Western Australia as Number Two is the head lore man and senior Elder of the Ngarla traditional owner group.

We follow his life from his birth on Pardoo station at the end of the first world war, he describes early life living on the station with songs retelling the events of hardships and massacres of indigenous people living on stations across the Pilbara.

His life dedicated to culture is entwined with incredible moments in Australian history. Enlisted and relocated to Broome during World War 2 to fight alongside other young indigenous men, a decorated jockey and top stockman across Northern Territory and Western Australia.

He is the last remaining cultural singer of the Pilbara region, a vault of knowledge for the entire region as he sings of the cultural boundaries, the hunting and dancing grounds. He sings to the snake and the spirits as he keeps his country and people safe.

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Let Them Hug

A young Brisbane woman launches a turbulent campaign to free her refugee friends stuck inside indefinite hotel detention.

SYNOPSIS: Let Them Hug is seen through the eyes of Dane, an energetic, young campaigner from Brisbane and Sabah, a strong, resilient, Somali mother, as they navigate Australia’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to dealing with refugees. When Dane receives a follow request from a refugee in hotel detention, she is suddenly propelled into action and sets alight a frenetic campaign of street activism, combusting the locals of Kangaroo Point into a movement that’s soon stamped on TV screens across Australia and around the world. This work brings her into collision with Sabah, whose husband, Saif, holds the sign we’re all most familiar with: ‘let me hug my son.’

Let Them Hug bursts open our cognitive dissonance as Australians who’ve totally tuned out to the very human experiences of asylum seekers on our soil, and punches its way through history to find the intersection between cultural belief, community experience and where it is that we may find hope for a better tomorrow.

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The Palace Letters

Jenny Hocking’s epic legal battle against the Australian Government and HM Queen Elizabeth to access the Palace Letters.

SYNOPSIS: This film follows historian Professor Jenny Hocking as she fights a David and Goliath battle against the Australian Government and the British Royal Family in a landmark legal action. At stake is whether letters between former Governor General Sir John Kerr and HM Queen Elizabeth, written at the time of the constitutional crisis of 1975, are deemed private correspondence and therefore remain closed, or official documents that should be accessible to the Australian people.

Now running for more than four years, the Palace Letters Case, if successful, will open the secret archives on the Queen’s role in the unprecedented dismissal of the Whitlam Government. This feature length documentary follows the personal struggle and immense legal battle faced by Hocking as she goes all the way to the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the land, in her bid to uncover the last piece of the extraordinary jigsaw that is the 1975 dismissal.

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The Positive Alternative

Reducing global emissions – inspired by local stories.

SYNOPSIS: Climate change has fundamentally impacted and changed the lives of farmers in Australia. Listen to the stories of how 5 different farmers each deal with climate change and how they create a positive alternative. Each of them shares their personal experiences, provides solutions to create a sustainable food industry and people’s diet.

The Positive Alternative provides both dramatic yet inspiring stories about how little changes can create big positive impact on our lives, on climate change and the world at large.

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Saving Species

A documentary series that charges the consumerism of the human race with irreparable damage to our fragile ecosystems

SYNOPSIS: As a species we are fast becoming driven by the ‘consumer class’ and every step we take in the name of progress and globalisation connects our infinite number of environmental problems to us as the direct cause but there are a few members of the human race attempting to change our course of destruction.

Humans are dismantling and disrupting natural ecosystems around the globe and changing Earth’s climate. Over the past 50 years, actions like farming, logging, hunting, development and global commerce have caused record losses of species on land and at sea. Animals, birds and reptiles are disappearing tens to hundreds of times faster than the natural rate of extinction over the past 10 million years.

Nevertheless, there are a group of people out there representing scientists, ecologists, conservationists, national park workers, veterinarians, animal rescue specialists and a host of other professions dedicated to saving our animals from the brink of extinction. We aim to profile them, their work and dedication to pushing back the never-ending tide of consumerism.

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Sincerely Survivor

What is a mental health system if it’s not designed by and for the people whom it serves?

SYNOPSIS: The findings of the Victorian Royal Commission revealed a mental health system that ‘catastrophically failed to live up to expectations’ (ABC, 2021).

Sincerely Survivor acts as an invitation for individuals with lived experience of mental health to find (and share) healing through the Arts, peer support and storytelling. This Documentary Series will amplify the diverse consumer voices of the Victorian mental health system and provide a platform to share their collective wisdom and message of healing.

This initial stage of crowdfundraising seeks to fund the Pilot Episode, which will explore Hannah’s lived experience and pursuit of understanding and education around mental health, incorporating interviews with consumers and clinicians alike. Further development will be made towards the overall series proof of concept.

All funds raised before 30 June (up until the value of $5000) will be matched by Creative Partnerships Australia.

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Socially Sanctioned

Six short animated docos about women abused by the institutions and people who were supposed to be protecting them.

SYNOPSIS: From having to relinquish a child, to facing daily violence as a front-line medical worker, to being Sudanese in downtown Melbourne, to smuggling lipstick down your cleavage to give to refugee women in off-shore detention… this compelling series of short animated documentaries gives voice to Australian women whose lives have been blighted by the institutions and people who were supposed to be protecting them.

Speaking to camera, the women’s stories, both individually and collectively, raise big questions about the society we live in… How come institutional abuse is able to persist? What does society owe its most vulnerable? Are some Australians ‘more equal’ than others?

Using simple rotoscoped lines and minimal sound, each engaging episode is raw, direct and authentic.

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The Southpaw Project

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

SYNOPSIS: When any athlete’s “big break” comes, it’s a career defining moment. Pressure mounts as self expectations rise. In 2014, Canberra cricketer Blake Dean received a last-minute call up to the Sydney Thunder for his debut Big Bash League match. But leaving the SCG that evening, his mental health plummeted after failing to perform when it counted.

A year later, when trialling for a BBL return, Dean was dealt another blow, tearing his right rotator cuff – meaning the all-rounder could no longer bat or bowl without undergoing a shoulder reconstruction. With a young family and mortgage to pay, Blake declined the expensive surgery and took on a less traditional route to return.Re-teaching himself to play left-handed and starting in Canberra’s Second Grade competition, The Southpaw Project follows Blake’s five-year pursuit to be the first true “ambidextrous cricketer” to play in the Big Bash League – batting, bowling and fielding left and right-handed. Following a path less travelled, Blake tries to prove to himself he can perform at an elite level, while changing the game he loves.

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To Never Forget: Sorella’s Story & Blacklisted in Latvia

To Never Forget intimately explores the story behind a single atrocity photo of women and a girl during the Holocaust.

SYPNOSIS: An Intimate exploration of the story behind a single atrocity photograph of a group of women and 11-year-old girl Sorella, during the Holocaust. Consisting of an innovative 360° film (Sorella’s Story), and a behind-the-scenes documentary (Blacklisted in Latvia), this ambitious project emphasises how prejudice – if not challenged – can lead to extreme violence.

In December 1941, on the beaches of Latvia, thousands of Jewish Women and Children were killed by Nazi troops and their Latvian collaborators.

Director Peter Hegedus embarks on the challenging journey to make Sorella’s Story, telling the story of the last day of Sorella’s and the four women’s lives in immersive 360° so we never forget.

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Todd Sampson’s Mirror Mirror

Todd explores the crisis of body dissatisfaction and the manipulative trillion-dollar industries that profit from it.

SYNOPSIS:  Mirror Mirror explores the societal crisis of body image dissatisfaction and the pervasive and manipulative trillion-dollar industries that profit from it. Body dissatisfaction is now a global health crisis. But we’re not born to hate our bodies, it’s a learned behavior – and this means it can be unlearned.

The inspiration for this documentary came from Todd’s own struggle as a father. He recently asked his youngest daughter Jet (10), “Would you rather be SMART or GOOD LOOKING?” To his surprise, she said, “all my friends would say good looking. Two of them are on diets.” It turns out, nearly one in four children under the age of 10 say they would rather be ‘good looking’ than ‘smart’.Body image is a serious problem that is literally killing us. Unfortunately, it’s a problem Todd had spent 15 years in a previous advertising career helping to create. This gives him a unique perspective as he strives to answer: why are we so dissatisfied with how we look and what can we do about it?

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UC Capitals

Uncover the history of Australia’s most successful women’s basketball program as they chase their first-ever three-peat.

SYNOPSIS: Since 1987, The UC Capitals have grown to become the most successful WNBL team in history and Canberra’s most awarded national sporting team.

Before women’s sport had progressed to its current status, the Caps were selling out tickets at the AIS Arena, pioneering diversity and equality within sport, and creating a unifying, unbreakable bond with their home city.

Throughout this journey there have been highs and lows, breakthroughs and stumbles, but one thing remains; the UC Capitals are, always have been, and always will be trailblazers.

With unprecedented access, follow the 2020/21 team as they chase their first ever three-peat during a global pandemic; and through a series of interviews and archival footage, uncover the foundation and legacy of Australia’s most successful women’s basketball team.

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Wini’s Song

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

SYNOPSIS:  Wini’s Song chronicles the inspirational life of award-winning Noongar singer-songwriter Gina Williams. The film works off the premise that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and follows Gina’s own journey, as a product of the Stolen Generations, Gina was raised by four families (through adoption and foster care). Thanks to the village, she grew up to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and become a champion for love and healing across the whole Western Australian community. Told with endearing humour, in both Noongar language and English, this is a story of deep sadness and great joy, because we all understand what those things mean, in anyone’s language.

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Wunyungar (Messenger)

One man’s gruelling walk to heal a nation. He will make history, but can he make lasting change?

SYNOPSIS: lwyn Doolan is a young Gooreng Gooreng Wakka Wakka man attempting the longest walk in modern Aboriginal history: from the tip of Queensland via Tasmania to Canberra, to deliver a message of healing to the Australian Government. Raised on an Aboriginal mission, Alwyn suffered from severe identity crisis and addiction, surviving only by reconnecting to his culture. Now, he is determined to bring healing to his people, and the nation, by integrating Aboriginal lore into modern Australian society. Chosen by his Ancestors to carry Message Sticks as a form of Aboriginal diplomacy, Alwyn is named ‘Wunyungar’ (Messenger).

Walking through 50 First Nations across 8,000kms, Wunyungar collates a vision for a ‘New Dreaming’ to bring black and white together, to present to the new Government. His Message Sticks articulate Australia’s story in three stages: Creation, Colonisation and Healing. His vision is bold, but will he be heard?

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