ABC wins big at inaugural Australian documentary awards

abc documentary awards Michael Carrington

• The ABC’s contribution to factual storytelling was recognised across screen, audio, and online

The ABC has led the way at the inaugural Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) Awards, winning four of the six content categories on offer.

The ABC’s contribution to factual storytelling was recognised across screen, audio, and online, with AIDC Award wins for The Australian Dream, Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian, The Eleventh, and the Mt Resilience augmented reality experience.

Michael Carrington, ABC director of entertainment & specialist, congratulated the award winners. “The best documentaries reflect the world as it is, was, and could be. They explore the big issues of this country and its people, while not shying away from the harsh truths about where we are falling short as a nation.

“These AIDC Awards are testament to the creative vision of content makers across the ABC and our production partners, and their dedication to bringing a real slice of life to our audiences.”

The internationally lauded film The Australian Dream, produced by GoodThing Productions and Passion Pictures, and commissioned by the ABC’s Regional & Local division, won the AIDC Best Feature Documentary Award for its story about Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes and the broader issues of race, identity, and belonging.

The AIDC jury praised the film as “a story of resilience, both of a man, and a people; a stridently articulated challenge to Australia to consider the true meaning and making of its history, and a film that deserves to reach all Australians, and beyond”.

Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian, produced by Southern Pictures and distributed worldwide by ABC Commercial, won the AIDC Best Documentary/Factual Series Award for its “refreshing modern portrait of Australia”. “A feast for the senses for so many of us locked down at home,” the AIDC jury said. “A pleasure to watch for both young and old. Wonderfully feel good.”

ABC podcast The Eleventh – about the 1975 dismissal of Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam – won the AIDC Best Audio Documentary Award for making “a significant moment in political history accessible to a wide audience”.

“The breadth of interview subjects made it feel like you were getting the full story from a broad range of players,” the AIDC jury said. “Definitely a podcast that made you want to skip to the next episode and keep listening.”

The ABC’s interactive webAR experience Mt Resilience, which was made in association with ABC TV series Big Weather (and how to survive it), won the AIDC Award for Best Interactive/Immersive Documentary. The bold augmented reality experience was crafted in conjunction with XR studio PHORIA, the CSIRO, and Bureau of Meteorology.

“This augmented reality experience about climate and disaster resilience in Australian towns deftly combines ambitious technological approach and creative vision, packing diverse story elements in a coherent and seamlessly designed way,” the AIDC jury said. “The use of webAR, the sense of playfulness and attention to detail all ensure broad accessibility on an urgent topic, demonstrating a distinctive and significant ambition.”

The winner of the Best Short-form Documentary Award was My Body Says, by Mama Bear Productions, which received development funding through the ABC’s $5 million Fresh Start Fund – which supported more than 200 Australian productions and new content ideas in response to the impact of COVID-19.

The AIDC jury also gave a special mention to ABC factual series Love on the Spectrum, which they said “grabs you from the first minute and never lets go”. Producers Northern Pictures had dealt with the subject of people on the autism spectrum exploring love and relationships “sensitively and cleverly to make it entertaining, engaging, informative and emotional”, the jury said.

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