Screen Australia Commits A$2.3 Million in Funding for Nine Docs


Screen Australia is funding nine documentaries with A$2.3 million ($1.5 million) through its First Nations department, commissioned program and producer program.

Among the titles funded through its producer program is Guardians of the River, a 90-minute documentary charting the journey of Papua New Guinean activist Manu Peni and his people as they launch an urgent mission to protect the Sepik River from an enormous, nearby mine.

Other projects funded through the producer program are When the Front Fell Off, a tribute to the life and work of satirist John Clarke, told through the eyes of his daughter; Sand Roads, documenting the journey of three Sydney boys in their 20s as they set off in 2010 on an adventure crossing Europe, Africa and Australia on quad-bikes; and Second to None, following the journey of the elite female cycling team Lidl-Trek as they compete in the Tour de France Femmes 2023.

Also receiving funds via the producer program are The Colleano Heart, about an Indigenous family of self-made circus entertainers who escaped oppression and racism to rise to the upper echelons of the world’s vaudeville and circus; The Iron Winter, offering insight into the rituals and traditions of herders in Mongolia’s Tsaikhir Valley; and The Kimberley, a three-part series covering a 400,000 square kilometer stretch in the northwestern corner of Australia that contains savannas, towering gorges, rivers, tropical coastlines and desert.

Through the commissioned program, The Jury Project is receiving funding. The four-part series puts the jury system itself on trial and explores the challenges and intricacies of the justice system.

Our Medicine, a six-part docuseries following First Nations professionals working on the medical frontlines as they try to achieve better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities, is being funded through the First Nations department.

Our Medicine shines a light on First Nations medical practitioners and frontline health workers who play a critical role in caring for and healing Indigenous patients through Western medicine—balanced with social, emotional and well-being needs,” said Angela Bates, head of First Nations at Screen Australia. “This program also explores a new model that incorporates ancient traditional practices to help address the low life expectancy in our communities and the many barriers our mob face in the health system. It’s an important and timely series, and one we are proud to support.”

“This [overall] slate reflects our determination to support Australian filmmakers who want to tell stories from not just within our nation but further afield, whether it be exploring the brilliant mind of John Clarke, escaping to the majestic Kimberley, interrogating the inner workings of our jury system, following an epic tradition in Mongolia or fighting for the Papua New Guinean environment,” said Richard Huddleston, head of documentary at Screen Australia. “They all push boundaries, play with form and reflect the rich, wide range of storytelling approaches we have in the Australian documentary community.”