Image: The Staging Post

We love these films, which is why we call them our sweethearts, and we can see their potential for donor and audience engagement.


We are a small team supporting hundreds of filmmakers, donors and partners. Our support is organised at different levels, according to our capacity, with the view to build knowledge in our documentary filmmakers, connect the not-for-profits to great stories and support the philanthropic sector in their giving.

Everyone has access to use our online resources, attend workshops, and can become involved with programs and other opportunities. At a higher level, we have two (additional tiers/levels) programs of support.

Sweetheart projects

The Documentary Australia Sweethearts, are films that have been identified as high potential projects that align with the philanthropic community, are committed to Documentary Australia’s model and aim to create impact that we can add value to We generally have approximately 20 Sweetheart projects at any one time, across a range of impact areas and project stages, as well as a shortlist.  

What does it mean to be a Sweetheart project?

It is important to note that the Sweethearts category is not a program per se, and becoming a Sweetheart doesn’t guarantee additional support, opportunities or outcomes.  Being a Documentary Australia Sweetheart project means that a project will be first considered for the following opportunities, where relevant and if or as they arise:

    • Presenting at our events or be involved in our screening programs
    • Sharing project spotlights or updates via our newsletters
    • Promoting the film to our board and donor circles as a key film to be aware of
    • Alerting filmmakers to relevant grants, if and as they become available
    • More actively supporting film project fundraising efforts

Essentially, this category provides a way for Documentary Australia to provide a fair and transparent approach to supporting films that align with our various activities each year.

What are the criteria for becoming a Sweetheart film?

In order for a project to be considered, the films must meet the following criteria:  

    • Approved by Documentary Australia and active on our website 
    • High quality film, trailer and/or teaser. You are more likely to be successful if stakeholders can see an example of your film. 
    • Compelling story with a unique angle or unique access  
    • Strong impact vision and some understanding of social impact campaigns 
    • Defined target audience 
    • Relationships developing or secured with impact partners 
    • Relevant to Documentary Australia’s philanthropic community
    • A commitment to monitoring and reporting on your impact
    • Filmmakers excited about working with our organisation
    • Documentary Australia has the capacity to add value to the project 

Films are scored by the team on each item above using a 5-point rating system to calculate a final score. If this score meets our benchmark, films will become a Sweetheart project.  



Projects are not eligible if: 

    • They have an outstanding report or acquittal for funders  
    • They don’t provide regular website or project updates to Documentary Australia. 

How are Sweetheart projects identified?

Documentary Australia reviews our Sweethearts list each quarter as a team. We identify strong performing projects via:  

    • New film applications received each quarter 
    • Filmmaker updates on their project 
    • Our workshops and webinars, and  
    • Films successfully attracting funding and partnerships.  


The Sweethearts category is typically invite only, however if you think your project meets all of the above criteria feel free to email your case for support and a teaser to  [email protected]