Here’s your complete list of Australian documentaries screening at this year’s MDFF

Tommy Emmanuel: The Endless Road

From 19th – 30th July 2019 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival will profile an eclectic, diverse and wide ranging collection of documentaries from both Australia and abroad. The final selection is an uncompromising, award-winning and challenging slate of documentaries from the world’s very best film festivals.

Here’s your complete list of Australian films screening at this year’s festival.

You can discover more about the festival here and check out the full program here

Help us continue to bring you more Australian film coverage by making a donation to Cinema Australia below. 

FEATURES

Saving Warru

Directed by Daniel Clarke and Amy Pysden
Warru, or black-footed rock-wallaby, is one of South Australia’s most endangered mammals. In 2007, when numbers dropped below 200 in the remote central desert, the Warru Recovery Team was formed to help save the precious species from extinction. Bringing together contemporary science, practical on-ground threat management and traditional Anangu ecological knowledge, this unique decade-long program has recently celebrated the release of dozens of warru to the wild for the first time. Come on a remarkable adventure in conservation and culture as the indigenous people of the wild red deserts of Australia fight to save a national icon.
Time: 2pm
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Homefront

Directed by Michael Wilkins
What happens when you destroy a war memorial and what do you put in its place? These questions faced Arts Officer, Colin James, and Project Manager and Artist, Amanda Gibson as they looked for ways to replace the much-loved Greensborough War Memorial statues, which had stood for 14 years in a local park. Carved from cypress, and still rooted in the soil, moisture had crept up inside the figures and rotted them from within. ‘Homefront – a new kind of war memorial’, begins with the burning of the old statues in a ceremonial fire. What unfolds, through interviews with local war veterans, are narratives of terrible injuries, paralysing fear, humour, and love. Homefront is a rare insider’s view of a sculpture project where the people at the heart of these stories drove the design. Extraordinary footage documents the process of collecting the stories, designing sculptures and carving full-sized figures from blocks of raw cypress using chainsaws. The original carver, local legend Leigh Conkie, is joined by world champion Hikaru Kodama from Japan to realise Amanda Gibson’s designs. Joining them, blacksmith Roland Danenhauer, forges everything from an aeroplane propeller to a horse bridle, dog collar and poppies, with a well-hefted hammer and a keen eye. Together they create a new type of war memorial and a new way of telling stories of war and of homecoming.
Time: 2pm
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Forged from Fire

Directed by Andrew Garton
‘Forged from Fire’ tells the story of how an Australian and international community of blacksmiths, welders, artists and volunteers responded to the devastating Black Saturday bushfires by creating perhaps the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – a three tonne, 9.8-meter tall stainless steel and copper gum tree – The Blacksmiths’ Tree.
Time: 6pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Red Sunday: Healing Through Narrative Therapy

Directed by Hannah Cairns
In the documentary, ‘Red Sunday’, community members of rural far east Gippsland, Victoria, Australia recount their experiences regarding the devastating 2014 bushfires, which lasted nearly 70 long, unpredictable, and traumatic days.
Time: 6pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Dog’s Best Friend

Directed by Eryn Wilson
A profile of Jacob Leezak’s Canine Behaviour Expert Dog Psychology Centre, located in outer Sydney, a place where traumatised dogs and traumatised humans can heal one another.
Time: 6.15pm
Date: 23rd July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Strange Tenants: Ska’d for Life

Directed by Fiona Cochrane
Strange Tenants were the “Godfathers of Australian Ska”, emerging in the 1980s in the wake of UK two-tone ska bands like The Specials but producing original political ska songs unlike most other Australian ska bands. 36 years later they’re still around and still political.
Time: 6.15pm
Date: 24th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Woodstock At Fifty: A Venue for the End of the World

Directed by Aidan Prewitt
With the approaching 50th anniversary of Woodstock, we are presenting a special cut of the multi-award-winning documentary ‘A Venue for the End of the World’, featuring extended interviews with original Woodstock performers, crew and high-profile commentators. This very special event will feature a live Q&A with famed Woodstock announcer & lighting designer Chip Monck. The film centers around the late ‘60’s crossover of music and politics and includes unseen 8mm footage from the Woodstock festival. Featuring Chip Monck, Michael Shrieve (Santana), Joe McDonald (Country Joe & the Fish), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Dick Cavett (The Dick Cavett Show) and D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop).
Time: 6.15pm
Date: 24th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Singled [Out]

Directed by MarionaGuiu Pont and Ariadna Relea Ventura
‘Singled [Out]’ tells the story of five educated women in four corners of the world: Jules in Melbourne, Manu in Barcelona, Shu and Yang in Shanghai, and Melek in Istanbul -they all travel solo in a world where pairing up is the norm. Together with the voices of some well-known experts in the areas of sociology, law and demography, the film unveils modern love in the era of choice and is a journey to the heart of being a single woman today.
Time: 8.45pm
Date: 24th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Waiting: The Van Duren Story

Directed by Wade Jackson and Greg Carey
In the 1970s, Memphis musician Van Duren was tipped to be the next Paul McCartney but instead faded into obscurity. Years later, two Australian friends come across his record and set out to discover what went wrong.
Time: 6.15pm
Date: 26th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Tommy Emmanuel: The Endless Road

Directed by Jeremy Dylan
The story of guitar icon Tommy Emmanuel, whose journey takes him from Australia’s youngest guitar prodigy to the world’s most acclaimed acoustic guitarist. Revelations about the father he idolized send Tommy into a decades-long battle with addiction, which threatens to derail his family and career, even as he drives himself to become one of the world’s most compelling performers. The film also tells the touching story of the relationship between Tommy and his hero, mentor and surrogate father figure, the legendary Chet Atkins. Told through intimate backstage footage, explosive concert performances, rare archival material and unfiltered interviews with Tommy’s closest friends and family (as well as stars from Joe Satriani to Jason Isbell to Monty Python’s Eric Idle), the film examines the scars of childhood trauma, breaking cycles of self-destruction and the ambitious rise of a man determined to bring happiness to all corners of the globe with his music, even as his own life was in danger of toppling
Time: 8:45 pm
Date: 26th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Terror Nullius

Directed by Soda_Jerk
A political revenge fable which offers an un-writing of Australian national mythology.
Time: 11pm
Date: 26th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Chasing the Jet Stream

Directed by Claudio von Planta
‘Chasing the Jet Stream’ follows the pioneering adventure of Marc Hauser, a Swiss entrepreneur and motivational speaker who wants to become the first skydiver in the world jumping into a hurricane force jet stream at 8,000 to 10,000 meters altitude. With this record, Marc wants to bring attention to the nascent technology of airborne wind energy systems, which can harness high-altitude wind power. This new technology has the potential to defuse the global energy crisis
Time: 11am
Date: 27th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Looby

Directed by Iain Knight and Nick Garner
Looby is the story of what happens when an artist chooses to speak out. For Australian painter Keith Looby, it cost him almost everything. Winner of prestigious art prizes and collected by major galleries at home and abroad, Keith’s addiction to speaking his mind has left a string of failed business relationships, marriages and friendships.  Bludgeoned into coherence by the film-makers, assessed by dealers, curators, critics and fellow artists, Looby is a chance to look at a brilliant artist who had his moment in the sun, and to ask whether he should have another.  Featuring an original score and sumptuous cinematography of long-forgotten masterpieces, this film is a delight for anyone curious about the truth behind the art.
Time: 2pm
Date: 27th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Kartika: 9 Ways of Seeing

Directed by Chris Basile
A portrait of charismatic and outspoken Indonesian modern artist Kartika Affandi, her remarkable life, and her powerful and controversial paintings and sculpture. The story of Kartika is the story of a woman determined to express herself on her own terms, and to make a career as a modern artist, although she was born into a society and a time in which this was considered an impossible goal for a female.
Time: 11am
Date: 28th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

The Candidate

Directed by Helen Gaynor
‘The Candidate’ is a feature length observational documentary that follows Greens candidate Alex Bhathal over the final three weeks of her campaign to win a seat in the Australian Federal parliament. In this, her sixth attempt, and with a 1% margin between her and victory, she and her team have good reason to believe that history is finally on their side. But this is no ordinary campaig.
Time: 11am
Date: 28th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Art of Incarceration

Directed by Alex Siddons
‘Art of Incarceration’ explores The Torch, a pioneering not for profit organisation that runs arts programs for Indigenous prisoners and ex-offenders in the Victorian prison system. The film is an uncompromising insight into the inmates’ quest for cultural identity and spiritual healing as they prepare for The Torch’s annual Confined exhibition and for life on the outside. This narrative documentary both analyses and humanises the over-representation of Indigenous Australians within the prison system, whilst seeking answers and striving toward solutions. The film clearly and profoundly explores greatly misunderstood issues such as cultural disconnection, intergenerational trauma, addiction and institutionalization. ‘Art of Incarceration’ will start the conversation that Australia has neglected for too long.
Time: 8.45pm
Date: 28th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

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SHORT FILMS

Flight of the LAD
Directed by Samuel Hutchinson
Nearing the end of an amazing life, inventor Duan Phillips has one last project he wishes to complete in memory of his deceased wife – a UFO shaped object, also known as The LAD.
Time: 11pm
Date: 19th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

I Want You to Know
Directed by Gabriel Morrison
When a seven-year-old girl accompanies her mother to the market in occupied Krasnodar, she doesn’t realize the true stakes at hand.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

The Beeman
Directed by Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlowe
A local conservationist saves an unwanted swarm of bees from extermination using his gift; the ability to communicate with honeybees.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Happy Android
Directed by JainaKalifa
Street performer Paul Cooper brings joy to audiences around the world with his endearing roving act Tubby the Robot, yet he struggles to find joy within himself. Paul’s childhood was disturbed by a tragic family accident and he now suffers from depression and anxiety. Often feeling disconnected and broken, he goes through the motions of life like an automated machine. Ironically, it is when Paul performs as Tubby that he feels the most functional, the most human. Paul and Tubby inhabit very different worlds – one full of sorrow and alienation, the other filled with happiness and love. In this unique film the two worlds collide, leading to a poignant exploration of family, mental illness and the transformative. Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Smile
Directed by
Harriet McKern
A heart-warming exploration of photographer Tawfik Elgazzar’s community art project, Flash Hub, which provides free portraits for locals and passers-by in Sydney’s Inner West. The film celebrates individuality, cultural diversity and the joy of a photographer seeing his subjects smile.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

After the Tsunami
Directed by Mark Hellinger
Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami reflect on the event, impact, and aftermath of the tragedy.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Mika Yamasaki
Directed by Ting Ni
‘Mika Yamasaki’ is a Zen-style short documentary for Melbourne based artist Mika Yamasaki.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Kiss the Boy
Directed by
Jayde Harding
Do women kiss men they don’t want to? Five women share their stories of why they have, what they’ve learnt and what it means about our society.
Strand: Melbourne Stories / Shorts
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Restoration Island
Directed by
Aubrey Comben
With the collapse of his business and personal life, due the 1987 stock market crash, ex-corporate businessman, David Glasheen makes the decision to live on an isolated tropical island in Far North Queensland, Australia. Having now spent 21 years living on Restoration Island, David Glasheen has rediscovered himself and his purpose in life. Using the island as an escape from the stresses of society, David, now 75 years old, reflects on what it was that led him towards this alternative way of living. Using a voice over taken from interview, Restoration Island observes Dave as he lives his life on the island and speaks to the pleasures and struggles of life living isolated from the norms of society.
Time: 11am
Date: 20th July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

The Holiday Inn-Side
Directed by
Charby Ibrahim
He’s been in and out of juvenile detention for 5 years, but what landed him there started the day he was born. Sixteen-year-old ‘Anonymous’ has been in and out of juvenile detention for the last five years… and he finds himself ‘locked-up’ yet again. As he stumbles around the confines of the secure facility in this fully animated dream-like documentary, he tries to make a little sense of his traumatic past and the circumstances that have led him down this criminal path once more. Although he takes full responsibility for the crimes that he has committed, ‘The Holiday Inn-Side’ asks one key question of its audience through the hazy fog of this creatively warped visual nightmare… ‘What would you do?’
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Comeback Kid: Liam McNeill
Directed by
Fraser Cameron
A sport that takes a toll on the body greater than most, Muay Thai is as brutal in training as it is in practice. Liam is dedicated to the cause. Dedicated to the point of obsession, an experience we are able to share with him in this revealing documentary. In this Documentary-Short we follow a focused young man, once bullied and brushed aside on the footy field, now physically transformed and intimidating in the ring. Vowing to ‘put his life on the line’, can Liam overcome the injuries, the gruelling weight cut and the expectation to comeback victorious?
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Be You T. Fool
Directed by
Brendan Pinches
An anonymous street artist reveals her secret practice of pasting portraits on the pillars of Chandler Highway Bridge in Alphington, Melbourne.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Stuart X
Directed by Thibault Upton
Description:Stuart Iredale was born with Fragile X during the 1950s; a time when the disability was little know. He was misdiagnosed with mental illness and spent 40 years of his life in psychiatric hospitals where he was misunderstood, drugged and abused At 60 years old Stuart was correctly diagnosed with Fragile X. He now has a set of processes and care that provide him with an entirely different quality of life. Today he has shown progress towards recovery from years of mistreatment and responds to music therapy by dancing.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Dreamers Gate
Directed by Daz Chandler
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on the side of the road on Australia’s Federal Highway, stands an abandoned personal artwork with a dark and poignant past.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Haunted Witness
Directed by Daniel Clarke
Trauma suffered by crime reporters is an under-reported and stigmatised issue. It is often forgotten or widely unacknowledged that like policemen and paramedics, journalists are first responders to daily scenes of horror. Admitting to experiencing trauma to newsroom colleagues, however, is widely denounced within the industry. The overwhelming majority of news people whose lives and careers are touched by traumatic stress are not covering brutal wars or natural disasters in distant lands. They are mostly domestic journalists who witness car accidents, murder scenes, suicides and plane crashes. Jeremy Hainsworth is a Vancouver-based freelance journalist who writes for the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and a variety of civil rights news outlets. During his illustrious career he covered Canada’s worst serial murder trial; that of pig farmer Robert Pickton. Hainsworth experienced horrendous nightmares during the trial, self-medicated with illegal drugs and later suffered a mental breakdown. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of covering the Pickton case and years of crime reporting where he attended scenes of murder, suicide and fatal car accidents. ‘Haunted Witness’ reveals how Hainsworth suffered in silence while management showed a shocking lack of support for his mental health and wellbeing. His story shines a light on the failure of media organisations to properly monitor and manage the mental health of their staff.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

She Starts 2
Directed by Rachel Storey
Women make up 50% of the population, but less than a quarter of startup founders. This season of ‘SheStarts’ follows a group of female founders as they step out of their comfort zone to pitch game-changing business ideas. Will their ideas stack up under pressure? Do they have what it takes to secure funding and scale their businesses? And can they push through their fears to step into the spotlight? From Sydney to San Francisco, this journey is one that will change their lives forever.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Voodoo Medics
Directed by
Kristin Shorten
‘Voodoo Medics’ is an eight-part documentary about trauma, resilience and posttraumatic growth in the medics who served with our special forces in Afghanistan. ‘Voodoo Medics’ unpacks the most defining experiences of six medics – affectionately referred to by their call sign ‘Kilo’ – who served inside Australia’s Special Operations Command over 15 years. These highly experienced and decorated medics served on the frontline of the frontline, fighting some of the most traumatic and intense battles – to save their mates’ lives – in the desert and dusty field hospitals of Afghanistan. And now this elite group of specialist medical veterans – known as Voodoo Medics – are being acknowledged for their largely unseen but life-saving contribution to the war on terror. In this revealing and raw documentary, these sworn healers who worked alongside Australia’s most elite fighters share their mental health battles, survivor’s guilt and the contradictions of their complex roles.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Rise
Directed by Madeline Street
An experimental documentary poem about Melbourne.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Adoption Pending
Directed by Liam Fouracre
The story of George, a two-year-old Staffy x Husky, who is surrendered to an adoption home.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Pain is Mine
Directed by Farshid Akhlaghi
One day, One room, One take. After her spinal surgery, she was always in pain, intense pain, unendurable pain. Painkillers have been her refuge for a long time, but one day, she decided to stop.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

The Handout
Directed by
Vedrana Music
A mother escaping war decides to bring home a treat for her daughter.
Time: 11am
Date: 21st July 2019
Venue: Cinema Nova

Don’t Call Me Beautiful
Directed by
 Tara Wise
Don’t Call Me Beautiful is a 2017 biographical documentary chronicling the life of Aboriginal woman Zeitha Murphy after she was taken from her birth mother at merely 3 months of age.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Voice from the Desert
Directed by
Daniel Clarke and Amy Psyden
Aboriginal singer Zaachariaha Fielding is taking the Australian music industry by storm; touring the nation and the world with his groundbreaking electro-soul band Electric Fields, who recently finished runner-up in the 2019 Eurovision: Australia Decides. After winning New Talent of the Year at the National Indigenous Music Awards, Zaachariaha returns to the tiny central desert community of Mimili to reveal the inspiration behind his unique music. Through intimate interviews with Zaachariaha and his family, we learn of the challenges he was forced to overcome as a child and his journey to music stardom as a proud member of the LGBTQ community.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Rock with the Doc
Directed by Kathy Burns and William Thomson
Dr. Fluoride, in association with Barkly Regional Arts, funded by Territory Families presents: ‘Rock withthe Doc’. In January 2018, Dr. Fluoride held a holiday school program which involved giving the local kids of Tennant Creek the chance to build their own guitars!
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Running 62
Directed by Zibeon Fielding and Madeleine Parry
Can he inspire, drive change in his community and raise enough money? Zibeon Fielding, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander man and long-distance runner is preparing to run a crazy 62 kilometres. Driven by passion to help those he loves, Zibeon will run further than he ever has before in the heart of Australian desert. He is determined to run from Iwantja to Mimili, raising funds to bring dialysis services to the remote APY Lands. We follow him on his journey of training and experience with him the mental and physical preparation required whilst living in one of Australia’s remotest and smallest communities. Training early mornings with the help of the camp dogs, his two-year-old daughter and his wife, Zibeon is a unique and driven man with a positive outlook on life. He wants to bring awareness that making healthy changes can give you a healthier, happier lifestyle to live longer and enjoy life.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Prom Night
Directed by
Sam McGowan
Billie, a 17-year-old non-binary teenager, prepares to attend a formal for underage queer youth for the first time. As they choose their outfit and get their hair dyed, they reveal how they navigate the awkwardness of adolescence while also dealing with the anxieties that come with being young and queer.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

And Me
Directed by Maisy Sutcliffe and Patrick Ilagan
An experimental documentary on the 2017 Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite, ‘And Me’ takes what happened to a nation and focuses on the story of a single person and how the plebiscite changed this person’s life.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

We’re All In This Together
Directed by Logan Mucha
Young queer Australians audition to retell stories from their elders who paved the way for their rights. Scripted verbatim from interviews, accounts of public protest, police brutality and isolation from queer history are retold and reimagined by a younger generation.
Time: 8.30pm
Date: 22nd July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

Soul Island
Directed by Sam Morton
An in-depth look into the formation and influence behind one of Melbourne’s rising Soul / R’n’B bands: Nasty Mars & The Martians.
Time: 6pm
Date: 29th July 2019
Venue: Backlot Cinemas / Tickets via Moshtix

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