Screen Australia announces over $3.7 million for 13 documentaries

Screen Australia

• “These documentaries are a testament to the talented filmmakers creating local stories”

Screen Australia has announced six documentaries through the Producer Program and seven projects through the Commissioned Program that will share in $3.7 million of production funding.

This includes a feature documentary from Stranger Than Fiction (Mountain, Australia in Colour) that follows an Indigenous figure skater from Western Sydney, Harley Windsor, on his quest to compete in the Winter Olympics; a series going inside the Sydney Opera House for the ABC; and a feature documentary about a grandmother with dementia who became an internet sensation in Everybody’s Oma.

Screen Australia’s head of documentary, Alex West said, “We were impressed by the broad mix of applications and these documentaries are a testament to the talented filmmakers creating local stories with great impact. These projects will explore contemporary social issues including how First Nations artist Richard Bell’s work uses art to effect change in War & Order, as well as the complexities of teen parenting in Kids Raising Kids. They are also set to celebrate Australian icons like the Sydney Opera House and the Tasmanian Tiger, and I look forward to seeing them hit our big and small screens.”

The Projects Funded Through The Producer Program Are:

Everybody’s Oma: A feature documentary from director/producer Jason van Genderen (Mankind is No Island), who makes home videos about his ageing mother ‘Oma’ who is living with dementia. Quite accidentally, Jason turns Oma into an internet sensation, creating a love fuelled battle for identity that played out in front of 100 million people. 

Israel Folau (working title): A feature documentary about Australia’s most gifted and controversial athlete, and how a social media post landed him at the heart of culture wars, derailing campaigns and careers in the process. A homophobic bigot to some, a persecuted freedom warrior to others, this will be the first time Israel Folau’s story is examined in all its multilayered complexity. 

Harley & Katya: A feature documentary from Blayke Hoffman and Stranger Than Fiction about Indigenous Australian figure skater Harley Windsor, who was the poster boy for the Australian Winter Olympic Team. Paired with Russian skater Katya Alexandrovskaya, this unlikely duo achieved unprecedented success on the ice before meeting with great tragedy. 

Tiger on the Rocks: A one-hour documentary about the Tasmanian Tiger which once roamed throughout Australia, leaving lasting connections with the land and its First Peoples. Featuring insights from Indigenous artists, rangers and custodians, biologists, bone hunters and archaeologists, this project explores the connection between human and animal, culture, nature and country. T

The Last Daughter: A feature documentary about Brenda Matthews, a Wiradjuri woman whose earliest memories are of growing up in a white foster family, until she was placed back with her biological family, leaving her feeling disconnected with both sides. 

War & Order: A feature documentary about 50 years of First Nations activism in Australia, shown through the lens of contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist Richard Bell

The Projects Funded Through The Commissioned Program Are:

The Family Court Murders (working title): A four-part series for Network 10 from Easy Tiger Productions in association with SAM Content which will examine the family court murders in 1980’s Sydney which resulted in several family court judges and their families being targeted by domestic terrorist attacks. 

Inconceivable: A one-hour documentary for SBS’s Australia Uncovered strand, in which investigative journalist Sarah Dingle embarks on a deeply personal journey to uncover the truth about her origins, and in doing so exposes the secrets of a multi-million dollar fertility industry. 

Inside The Opera House: For the first time, cameras will go behind the scenes to reveal what it takes to run one of the world’s greatest performing arts centres, the Sydney Opera House, in this three-part documentary series for the ABC. 

Keeping Hope: A one-hour documentary for NITV from Joined Up Films, exploring the hidden complexities of living in the magical Kimberley. The remote region renowned for its stunning tourist destinations has become a place with high rates of suicide among young Indigenous people, and in this documentary actor Mark Coles Smith goes on a deeply personal journey to investigate why this is happening and what can be done about it. 

Kids Raising Kids: A one-hour documentary for SBS’s Australia Uncovered strand created by award winning journalist and broadcaster Patrick Abboud’s production company Only Human. Gaining exclusive access inside Canberra College, a one a kind high school for teenage parents, the documentary explores the complex lives of its students who are also overcoming family trauma, abuse, drug dependency and constant setbacks while navigating a complex system. 

The Eagle and the Ant (and Everything In Between): A three-part natural history series for the ABC that follows the flow of water across the continent to explore the incredible connectivity that links organisms and ecosystems, and makes life on earth possible. 

Multicultural History Series (working title): A celebratory three-part series for SBS, featuring well-known personalities from different faiths, countries and cultural backgrounds exploring the history of their community. 

The full list of blocklines is available here for 2021/22 and here for 2020/21.

Top Image: Harley & Katya

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