ABC and Screen Australia back three documentary series

Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian’.

The ABC and Screen Australia have announced funding for three original documentary projects: Dark Emu, Gun Ringer, and Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian.

Blackfella Films’ Dark Emu is based the book by the same name from Bruce Pascoe, and will take audiences on a journey across Australia to present a very different history of our nation and the First Australians. The series is financed with Screen NSW and Film Victoria, and written by Pascoe (Black Chook), and Jacob Hickey (First Contact), directed by Erica Glynn (She Who Must Be Loved) and produced by Darren Dale (First Australians) and Belinda Mravicic (Black Chook).

Screen Australia head of Indigenous Penny Smallacombe said: “Dark Emu promises to be one of the most important documentary series the Indigenous Department has funded. It’s a chance to challenge the myth of pre-colonial Indigenous Australians being just hunter gatherers. We have sophisticated systems and knowledge that isn’t appreciated by all Australians, and in the hands of Blackfella Films, and director Erica Glynn, this significant story has the power to change that.”

ABC head of Indigenous Kelrick Martin said: “The significant contribution and unique, rich culture of Indigenous Australia is largely taken for granted in this country. Dark Emu offers a revelatory context for future generations of Australians and ABC Indigenous is proud to work alongside Bruce Pascoe and Blackfella Films to correct these stereotypes.”

RONDE’s Gun Ringer, as previously announced by Screen Territory, follows the men and women of the Australian Outback, who risk life and limb catching feral bulls and buffalo. Every dry-season, against the iconic backdrop of remote regional Australia, they rely on grit, cunning, and self-belief to stay alive and turn a profit. The a 10 x 30 documentary series expands on the short-of the same name released in 2017. The series is created by executive producer Ben Davies (Bondi Rescue) and producer Tom Lawrence, while Liam Taylor is series producer, and Maria Handas is directing. It has also been financed with support from Screen NSW.

Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian is a 3 x 60 observational documentary series from Southern Pictures that follows actor and new Australian Miriam Margolyes as she embarks on an investigation of what it means to be Australian in the 21st century. In her 50 years as an Australian resident she has witnessed Australia’s transformation. Now, as a new citizen Miriam interrogates who we are and what we stand for as she grapples with her sense of being ‘almost Australian’, and will run a timely state-of-the-nation enquiry to uncover if the traditional Aussie values that attracted her as a young migrant still hold true. Liz Allen (Love Me As I Am) is directing the series with series producer Ross Wilson (The Mosque Next Door) and story producer Allan Clarke (Cold Justice). Laurie Critchley (Hawke: The Larrikin & The Leader) and Aline Jacques (Living Universe)  are EPs. It has been financed with support from Screen NSW with Screen Territory.

Screen Australia head of documentary Bernadine Lim said: “When we fund through our Commissioned Program, we’re looking for compelling, true Australian stories that will be told exceptionally well, and reach a broad audience. Both Gun Ringer and Almost Australian stood out as distinctive concepts, which will offer insightful perspectives on our sense of identity, and our environment. I’m really pleased to add these projects to the significant slate of Australian documentaries on the ABC.”

ABC’s head of entertainment and factual Josie Mason-Campbell said: “We continue to look for new and innovative ways to tell the stories of our nation and I am delighted to welcome both of these documentaries from production partners RONDE and Southern Pictures to our award-winning slate. Gun Ringer broadens our understanding of some of the most remote regions of Australia through timely analysis of its economic, cultural and ecological history. Miriam Margolyes, who now calls Australia home, will be digging deep under the skin of our people and places. In the process, she will be venturing far out of her comfort zone, and in her own inimitable way, she’ll take us all with her as she asks the question what does it mean to be Australian?”