PUBLISHED26 Sep 2019

Stories that work: A Festival of Story Telling for Social Change.

Stories that work is a day of showcasing the impact stories can make by unpacking great campaigns, discovering bold new projects and connecting our community of filmmakers donors, impact partners and advocates.

Join us for Stories that work – a festival of storytelling for social change on the 16th of October at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. This inaugural event will bring together high-profile impact documentaries and exciting new projects, as we delve into why philanthropists and NGOs use film for change.

This day is designed to bring philanthropic organisations, NGOs and social impact documentaries together to foster important connections.


The Art Centre Melbourne

The event features keynote addresses from recent high-impact documentaries as well as a showcase of emerging documentary storytellers. Presentations from 2040The Staging Post and Ka-Ching Pokie Nation will examine the anatomy of successful campaigns and the ongoing social changes they are driving.

2040 is award-winning director Damon Gameau’s latest project, a documentary that follows Damon as he embarks on a journey to explore a simple premise – What could the world look like by 2040 if we implemented the best solutions available to us today?

The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim, as they establish the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre, whilst stuck in Indonesia after Australia “stopped the boats”.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has been at the heart of Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation’s impact campaign – driving incredible reform since its launch in 2015.

Film Posters: 2040, The Staging Post, Ka-Caching! Pokie Nation

At Documentary Australia, we bring the passion of philanthropy together with powerful films to drive action. An important part of this is the support and development of filmmakers to ensure that important projects make it to the screen.

Storyworks is our most comprehensive filmmakers support program. Delivered in partnership with Film Victoria over 8-months, the program provides mentoring, interactive learning and skill development for 20 emerging impact filmmakers. Now in its second year, Storyworks 2019 is developing 18 bold new documentary projects.

Over the course of the year, Documentary Australia delivers coursework and one-on-one professional development, enabling filmmakers to gain knowledge and create the materials necessary to successfully approach potential funding and impact partners. Documentary Australia provides tailored support to participants, working closely with them to create an impact strategy, theory of change, issue map and pitch documents.

On the day of our showcase event, Stories that work, participants from storyworks will share the stage with high profile case studies, as we delve into why philanthropists use film for social change and unpack the anatomy of successful impact campaigns. The emerging filmmakers will have a chance to present their project, their passion and how they think it can drive change in their issue area.

The Storyworks program is designed to support up-and-coming filmmakers to develop strong social impact docos. The course is built around four essential professional development modules – Impact, Evaluation, Partnerships and Fundraising. Each module is delivered through a mix of online learning, individual discussion and interactive webinars. Webinars present detailed case studies with industry professionals, allowing filmmakers to unpack and understand the module in practice.

Documentary Australia’s seven impact areas.

This year’s cohort is working on films that cover Documentary Australia’s seven impact areas, presenting philanthropic organisations and NGOs with a rich suite of social issue films and the opportunity to connect with storytellers.

Stories That Work is only possible with the support of Documentary Australia’s major event partners: AndyIncAustralia Communities FoundationAustralian Philanthropic ServicesFilm VictoriaKonica MinoltaPhilanthropy AustraliaPro Bono Australia and Arts Centre Melbourne.

Buy your tickets to join us at Stories that work here!

Below is a list of the projects being developed for the Stories that Works event:


Brazen Hussies
This documentary reveals an exciting and revolutionary chapter in Australian history, the Women’s Liberation Movement (1965 -1975). Interweaving freshly uncovered archival footage, personal photographs, memorabilia and lively personal accounts from activists all around Australia, BRAZEN HUSSIES shows us how a daring and diverse group of women joined forces to defy the status quo, demand equality and create profound social change. These women defined one of the greatest social movements of the 20th Century, at times at great personal cost. This documentary is full of the raw energy and determination that fuelled feminism for the next 50 years until now. – Find out more


Born to Stand Out
Australia has always struggled with its own identity – the idea of what a typical Australian is has been under fire since the first immigrant groups arrived on our shores. As the new generation of African-Australians immigrate and are raised in Australia, the media, government and public have focused negative attention on this group, often citing the ‘growing crime rate’ to ‘African Gangs’ or as their often referred to ‘Apex Gang’.
This documentary challenges these stereotypes by following young African-Australian hip hop artists based in outer-urban Victoria, demonstrating how their stories of empowerment, representation and success transcend the larger Australian understanding of who they are. – Find out more


How to Thrive
A spate of mental health disorders seems to be spreading across Arnett’s boarding campus of 200 students. Adolescent mental distress is a global problem, but this campus of high achievers is feeling it much harder than most. It’s an existential issue for which the campus is ill-equipped to handle. And it threatens to overwhelm the school, it’s reputation and it’s a close-knit community of students.
Twelve students, each from a diverse cultural background, take on the responsibility to learn from the world’s leading researchers on health and wellbeing. Given access to the latest science, can our twelve use these strategies to turn the tide? Can wellbeing, resilience and optimism really be learnt? Could their discoveries lead us to the secret formula for happiness? And will any of this make final exams any easier? – Find Out More


Lady Lash
Crystal is a tenacious Kokatha woman with Greek ancestry, pushing beyond all expectations she has carved a successful career in the male-dominated Hip Hop industry. After living in Melbourne city for decades working through and rising above self-sabotage, she returns to country for self-growth. She tackles what reconnection to country brings up, spiritual connection; together with the resurfacing of the colonial mindset, her people continue to face threats to country from the mining industry – both on land and sea. Nevertheless, she returns to Melbourne with her power of positivity, inspired by her country; she paints, writes, protests and sings her song of strength and culture. – Find out more


Life After Juvie (working title)
In the ongoing debate surrounding youth offending, and the increasingly ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric by politicians and mainstream media commentators alike, there’s a voice that’s too often left out of the conversation; that of the young person. With 7 out of 10 young people likely to return to prison after release, isn’t it time we get to know the kids behind the headlines and stop to ask why? Completely anonymous and creatively treated with the use of animation, live-action, and mixed media, the stories told in this unconventional feature-length documentary will have audiences reflecting on much more than the ‘criminal act’ itself, but rather the life circumstances of the young person, and the social context surrounding their behaviour. -Find out more


Paper City
The story of three elderly survivors of the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo who, after decades of public and political indifference, are desperate to leave behind a public record of their experiences before they pass away.   Just after midnight on March 10, 1945, the U.S. carried out a massive air attack on eastern Tokyo. As incendiary bombs rained down on this densely urban area of wooden and paper houses, people leapt from their beds, gathered their families and fled to the streets—only to find escape routes already cut off. By morning, the firestorm had killed more than 100,000 people and wiped a quarter of the city from the map. Seven decades on, the trauma remains seared in the memories of survivors—and yet is barely discussed in Japan or abroad
 Find out more


Story Keepers
This documentary tells explores the beauty and power of storytelling through the eyes of Aboriginal Elder,  Boori Monty Pryor – he will make you laugh & cry at the same time. Despite now being a household name, things weren’t always easy for Boori. When his brother Paul chose to take his own life in the face of systemic racism Boori cast aside his own deep anguish to take on the work his brother had started as a cultural storyteller, performer and teacher. Storykeepers takes viewers into the heart of the man and the heart of the country. This is the story of Boori. This is how we heal Australia. – Find out more


The Show Must Go On
This film tells the story of the mental health of the 42,000 people working in the Australian entertainment industry. While ‘show business’ is often seen as glamorous, fun, exciting, and well paid, recent and alarming world-first research from Entertainment Assist and Victoria University paints a darker picture for entertainment workers. Suicide attempts in the industry are double the national average. Anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher, sleep disorders are 7 times higher and symptoms of depression are 5 times higher than the national average. – Find out more


Water for Birds
This film chronicles some of the trials faced by Annu, a former student who now co-runs the day-to-day operations of an educational centre in Varanasi run by local non-profit Guria, who fight human trafficking and multi-generational prostitution throughout North India. Annu embodies Guria’s transformational power. She is dedicated to the people of Varanasi, particularly those in the red-light district, and is an exemplar of intense personal growth. – Find out more


We Don’t Want You Here
A film about personal responses to traumatic loss within conflict. It explores how, after such pain, some people go on to develop new strengths. Through my lens as a trauma psychologist, we meet two Palestinians and two Israelis, two women and two men, whose child or parent was killed in this unrelenting conflict. But instead of finding hate or despair, we discover Bushra, Rami, Meytal, and Bassam, all committed to transforming their grief into reconciliation. Although they face opposition from family, community and their governments, they never give up. For each has glimpsed the nobility of their enemy. And they will not cease until their peoples and the world listen
Find out more

88 Days a Slave

At farms all over Australia, desperate young backpackers are being exploited, underpaid and sexually harassed. They work long hours for little or less pay while living in horrible conditions. They must do this in order to obtain their 88-day requirement for farm work which will enable them to get their second-year visa.

Some of the young travellers are so desperate to stay in the country that they are willing to do literally anything to write off their farm work. Many wait around for weeks, even months, all while paying accommodation upfront for promised work. All this only to log a few days after months at farms, losing both time and money. Others give up and go home defeated, knowing that they’ve wasted much of their time for nothing. – Find out more


A Thousand Words Unspoken
This is a story about the filmmaker’s personal journey investigating how the adoption of the Christian faith changed his brother, Alex, and his sexuality. Having endured a traumatic coming out experience to very conservative Chinese parents at the age of 20, and having worked as a teacher where being gay is a sackable offence, Alex had learnt to keep his sexuality discreet and underground in Singapore, a place where homosexuality is still criminalised. This oppression led him to some truly dark times with sex and drugs and almost lost his life. Eventually, Alex found Christianity and it appeared to give him a second chance in life. However, it was also during this time he renounced his gay identity.
In September 2018, Alex sent a link to their family WhatsApp group chat asking the family to sign the petition to keep the archaic law of criminalising homosexuality in Singapore intact. As a gay man, Derek felt betrayed by his brother’s actions, and he set out to find out what really happened to him behind the confinements of the church.


Catching Up
This documentary is focused on the state of adult literacy throughout Australia. Based on various factors including systemic weaknesses in public education, shifting demographics, and low-literacy requirements in historical vocations, Australia falls surprisingly far behind adult literacy rates in other western nations. The film will address this issue from the varied perspectives of program providers, literacy champions, and individual adult learners from various backgrounds.

Five-Year Grandma

“Five Year Grandma” is a web-series about the close relationship between the filmmaker, his mother and grandmother.
The complete loss of these relationships after his mother’s death a week before his 12th birthday and his loss of culture. After losing his mother, Ravi was cut off from her side of the family and grew up ashamed of his culture, desperately assimilating into Australia. Successful assimilation came at a cost; completely ostracising his own.
This documentary is the impact of that narrative. What happens when we tell immigrants and people of colour to assimilate all or nothing into the “Australian way of life”.

Incarceration Nation

Australia was founded by the English with one clear purpose – to create a prison island. Over 200 years later, not much has changed; rather than housing criminals from England, we are filling our jails with our most vulnerable and disadvantaged population.

Today, thousands of Aboriginal people across Australia wake behind the bars of our prisons: Aboriginal children waking in juvenile detention centers away from their family; Aboriginal women waking in women’s prisons away from their children; and Aboriginal men waking in high-security prisons, thousands of kilometres away from their communities and their lands.

Incarceration Nation will tell that story – the tragic story of the systematic injustice and oppression of Aboriginal people since European settlement.

More Than A Number

This documentary explores Australia’s current school system. The filmmakers explore if the current system facilitates real growth and learning or is it an exercise in crunching the numbers?
Is it time to review the system from the student’s perspective, are they more than a number?

The Afghan Bug

Director Travis lived in Afghanistan for 7 years, while there he contracted the phenomenon referred to as ‘The Afghan Bug’. An itch-like sensation to live in this war-torn nation. His first feature film was about metal music in
Afghanistan and now his second film is looking at foreign policy in Afghanistan since 9/11 . He will analyse the military and aid funds spent. He will present the legacy/aftermath for Afghans once the foreigners left. He will question current Western intervention into emerging nations and whether imposing this model of democracy onto nations – without asking them – is ethical in the 21st century. And he will ask; After all that was gained and lost, was it all worth it?

Untitled Logan Documentary

In a tiny brick home in the working-class Queensland shire of Logan, lives a blended family like no-other: six of the Sharrock-Barnes clan live with a disability. Becky, 28, has an extraordinary gift that has attracted international attention: she remembers everything that has ever happened to her, in sequence, from the first day of her life to the present. And although her younger siblings aren’t medical marvels, they all possess unique gifts.
Parents, Janet and Buddha, are raising their 5 children into adulthood in a household that is eccentric, chaotic, never dull – and while there are a kaleidoscope of needs, and difficulties, there is also magnificent resilience in the lives and attitudes of this unique family.
Our family keeps us safe, tells us who we are – but when there is so much pressure and not much room, where is there the space to figure out who you are, and where you want to go?