Screen Australia today announced production funding for 18 documentary projects through the Documentary Producer and Documentary Commissioned programs. Projects include feature-length documentary Jelena; Unbreakable about tennis star Jelena Dokic, a two-part series for the ABC The Pool written by acclaimed author Christos Tsiolkas, as well as a 10-part short documentary series featuring Julian Burnside in conversation with some of the world’s leading defenders of human rights in the West, The Burnside Conversations.

“We continue to be blown away by the ability of Australian documentary makers to connect and move audiences with complex human stories and issues of the moment. These latest projects will share the stories of remarkable Australians from those with neuro-diverse conditions looking for love, to the life of Oscar-nominated screenwriter Luke Davies,” said Bernadine Lim, Head of Documentary at Screen Australia. “I’m also pleased to see Australian documentary makers continue to tackle international stories, sharing our perspective on the world around us.”

In total $1,385,000 in production funding was allocated through the Producer program, and $2,165,000 through the Commissioned program. An additional $140,000 was provided in development funding to 10 documentaries.

“What’s in development gives us a sense of pipeline, and in the most recent round we had more than double the normal amount of applications, and the caliber of projects was very strong. We’re excited about the range of projects, formats, teams, regional diversity and platforms that are coming in.”


Geeta: A feature documentary from Colour Films about a mother’s inspiring and transformative love for her daughters and the change that follows. It tells the story of an Indian acid attack survivor who goes onto campaign for change in her community. The creative team includes writer and director Emma Macey-Storch (Meet + Eat), producer by Adam Farrington-Williams (The Coming Back Out Ball), and Emmy Award-winning executive producer Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon). Film Victoria provided development funding for this project.

HeadOn: A six part web-series presented by acclaimed short-form filmmaker Darius Devas (The Word: Rise of the Slam Poets) that examines the lives of young Australians suffering in the midst of the mental health crisis. The series is written and directed by Devas and driven by his desire to understand the loss of his friend to suicide and his own journey through anxiety. The series is being financed with support from headspace, and is partnering with Orygen Youth Mental Health, SANE Australia, Bipolar Australia, Mindfulness.com and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the Centre of Rural and Remote Health.

Jelena; Unbreakable: A feature-length documentary from Cordell Jigsaw Productions which tells the remarkable story of Jelena Dokic – an elite tennis star who beat the best in the world with a mental toughness few could match. Jelena survived the turmoil of being a refugee, the pressure of centre court, and the burden of a volatile father. The documentary will be written and directed by Amanda Blue (Deep Water – The Real Story), and produced by Andrew Farrell (Working Class Boy).

Milkman: The story of Luke Davies – poet, author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter – whose semi-autobiographical novel Candy and its big screen adaptation placed him at the intersection of fiction and his own reality. Milkman tells the story of a life still being written. Davies is now one of Hollywood’s most in demand writers and is working on the TV Series adaptation of Catch 22 starring George Clooney. His film credits include award-winning Australian feature Lion, and Beautiful Boy. Eddie Martin (Have You Seen the Listers) and Davies are co-directing the project with Sarah Shaw (Snowtown) producing. Executive producers are Anna McLeish (Sunshine), Richard Payten (Sweet Country), Andrew Mackie (Candy) and Davies.
My Big Fat Italian Kitchen: A delicious feel good story from Yarra Bank Films. Written and directed by Trevor Graham (Monsieur Mayonnaise) this feature documentary follows Antonio de Benedetto an Italian chef on a quest to change the world with food. His apprentices are aspiring chefs with Down syndrome who travel from across Italy to train and work in hospitality and take their place at the table of life and find their pathway to freedom and independence.

No Time for Quiet: A feature documentary from Film Camp which follows a group of teenagers who find their voice through a unique rock ‘n’ roll community. Written and directed by Hylton Shaw and Samantha Dinning (Guardians of the Strait) and produced by Philippa Campey (Galore), it looks at three participants of the inaugural Girls Rock! Melbourne camp and how they find their sense of belonging and identity through music. Film Victoria provided development funding for this project.
The Bikes of Wrath: A story of adventure, humanity, and America today, told through the lens of Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath from Doss Flamingoss. The six-part series and feature-length film, which are written, directed and produced by Cameron Ford (The Katering Show) and Charlie Turnbull, follow five Australian friends as they attempt to cycle from Oklahoma to California in honour of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s. The group explores whether America has progressed since the book was written, discussing the wealth gap, immigration and the American Dream. This project was financed with support from Film Victoria.

The Burnside Conversations: A 10-part short documentary series from Rymer Childs productions featuring Julian Burnside in conversation with some of the world’s leading defenders of human rights in the West. With asylum as their focus, they share their future predictions, frustrations and fears about where the world is heading. The series will be produced and directed by Judy Rymer who recently made the feature documentary Border Politics.
Under the Volcano: A feature-length documentary from Rush Films which tells the story of AIR studios Montserrat, a state-of-the-art recording facility tucked away on a remote island in the Caribbean. Built by Beatles producer Sir George Martin, the studio formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history. Through personal accounts, never-before-seen footage and backed by a blistering soundtrack, this feature is a definitive account of the place that stumbled upon the perfect storm of talent, technology and isolation, creating music that would live on long after the last tape rolled. Directed by Gracie Otto (The Last Impresario), the documentary will be produced by Cody Greenwood (The Beeman) and Richard Harris. Screenwest provided development funding for this project.

Video Nasty – The Making of Ribspreader: A six-part series for online from Closer Productions, that follows underground horror filmmaker Dick Dale on his quest to make his first low-budget feature film Ribspreader. Infamous for producing what he describes as ‘splatter-punk video nasties’ Dick has been a cult hero in Australia’s underground film scene for over 20 years. The creative team includes South Australian writer and director Matthew Bate (Sam Klemke’s Time Machine) and producer Katrina Lucas (Love in the Time of Antidepressants).

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