AFTRS student documentaries available to screen on SBS, DocPlay

From left are stills from 'PR', 'Of the Last Reel in Front of You', 'Rock Steady', and 'Tell Me About Your Mother'

DocPlay has joined SBS in partnering with AFTRS to screen a selection of student documentaries.

AFTRS First Cut offers viewers on the platform a selection of five shorts crafted by Master of Arts Screen students, including a portrait of Australian poet Robert Adamson, a refugee-run soccer club, and the story of Dave, who made it his mission to save a million lives.

DocPlay executive Rufus Richardson said the quality of emerging talent in the showcase was immediately apparent.

“As Australia’s only dedicated documentary streaming service, DocPlay is thrilled to partner with AFTRS in bringing this collection of entertaining and informative short-form documentaries to Australian audiences,” he said.

“It was a pleasure to collaborate with the team at AFTRS, who share our commitment to championing Australian stories, and we look forward to sharing more AFTRS documentaries with DocPlay audiences in the future.”

As with last year, SBS On Demand will present 14 short documentaries from AFTRS Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production students, with a 15thOf the Last Reel in Front of You – to be added after its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival later this month.

Created in response to a brief to explore culture and unique identity, The films include explorations of the Māori art of tā moko, the life of a death doula, and a journey through Biripi and Gumbaynggirr Country with environmental activists.

SBS On Demand and World Movies channel manager Haidee Ireland described the talent coming through AFTRS as “undeniable”.

“SBS On Demand is proud to partner with AFTRS to bring this collection of diverse, entertaining, and uniquely Australian stories to our audiences,” she said.

“We are so impressed with the talent of the emerging creatives showcased this year, and can’t wait for their fantastic short-films to join our offering of world-class documentaries and series on SBS On Demand.”

AFTRS discipline lead for documentary, Richard Welch said the broader impact of the partnerships with the two platforms could not be understated.

“Collaborating with SBS On Demand and DocPlay allows us to bring our students’ exceptional work to a wider Australian audience,” he said.

“This initiative not only showcases the technical prowess and storytelling abilities of our students but also enriches the Australian documentary landscape with fresh, compelling narratives. We are excited for Australians to engage with these powerful stories and see the diverse talent we are cultivating.”

The AFTRS Documentary Showcase on SBS On Demand

Heroyam Slava
Ukrainian-Australian activist Sasha Bilanovsky reflects on her time volunteering at a Ukrainian refugee camp in Poland and the connection she fostered with Ukrainian children that she cared for.

Director: Eleni Thomas
Writer: Eleni Thomas and Alexandra (Sasha) Bilanovsky
Producer: C.Sean Cheng

It’s A Drag
Showcases Universal Sydney’s iconic drag queen Champagne as she goes through the glitz, glam and drag of being one of the most recognisable people around Sydney’s famous queer hub, Oxford Street.

Writer/director: Dion Rhys Carrothers
Producer: Monique Placko

Knitting the Revolution
Australia’s coal seam gas extraction has an opponent that was never expected: the Knitting Nannas, and their unlikely weapon, a pair of knitting needles.

Maya The Illusion of Home

Amid the shadows of exploitation, a Fiji-Indian grandmother’s journey illuminates the resilience of her ancestors, the impermanence of home, persisting expectations, and the transformative power of faith in the face of generational adversity.

Writer/Director: Tavishek Sharma
Producer: Suvipra Vaidya 

Mother and Their Daughters
Women in Sydney are given the space to discuss their relationship with their mothers with no shame or judgement.

Director: Amy Auwardt
Producer: Sharni Lee

The Mother of the Markets
For 40 years, the Salvo family has served the farmers of the Sydney flower markets with cappuccinos, toasties and tiramisu. At the centre of this operation is Valentina, who breathes life into the markets with infectious positivity.

Writer/Director: Flynn Boffo
Producer: Casey McCosh

Must Thank Sally
On a farm in Borenore, NSW, Sally and Timmy’s journey through life’s ups and downs reveals a simple yet powerful truth, that love, laughter and a sense of the ridiculous have the magic to mend hearts and rewrite our past.

Writer/Director: Jessica Bennett
Producer: Ella Keough

Ode to an End
Denise Love has been a death doula for 20 years. She serves dying people as a non-medical professional, working to make death and grief a more supported and realised experience for both the dying person and those around them.

Director: Layla Philippou
Producer: Jonathan Zhang

Of the Last Reel in Front of You
A short hybrid documentary that follows a film projectionist, Alan Butterfield, as he reminisces the past and present.

Writer/Director: Yan Geng
Producer: Wentian Jin

Our Inked Identity
Practising the art of tā moko an ocean away from his New Zealand roots, Rangi Maika shares his experience with the art form and what it means for the revival of Māori culture and Māori people, even those in their now Australian home.

Director: Jaida Ngawaka
Producer: Cooper Kahui-Chee

As an Italian-Australian filmmaker joins an Italian immigrant to cook their nonna’s favourite recipes, they start bonding over their shared challenges migrating to Australia and the sacrifices to make it happen.

Writer/Director: Enrico Lerda
Producer: Wentian Jin

Rock Steady
Amongst the stunning Biripi and Gumbaynggirr Country, environmental activists and a determined ecologist on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia face the imminent threat of logging that looms over the remaining native forests.

Director: Lauri Jones-Male
Producer: Ali Wildberger

Rough Edges
Chronicles Andrew’s journey through homelessness where the transformative power of faith, spirituality, and the support of the Rough Edges charity converge to shed light on a story of resilience, hope, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Writer/Director: Lewis Coote
Producer: Mackenzie Callan

Tell Me About Your Mother
Rosh Veera, a proud Sri Lankan-Malay woman, cooks a traditional meal and talks about her mother’s journey of leaving her home country to immigrate to Australia.

Director: Casey McCosh
Writers: Casey McCosh and Riti Ramanujachari

Worth Fighting For
Explores the journey of Adrian Mouhajer, an aspiring MMA fighter from Lakemba, New South Wales, as they battle with gender stereotypes and economic hardships, shaping their determination to challenge family and societal expectations.

Director: Barney Wilson
Producer: Jude Palmer Rowlands

AFTRS First Cut on DocPlay

The Kingfisher’s Soul
A love story between one of Australia’s leading contemporary poets, Robert Adamson, and celebrated photographer Juno Gemes.

Director: Sophie Alstergren

An insiders look at the anti-abortion protestors who run a crisis hotline for pregnant women in trouble.

Director: Cassandra Charlton

Last Goal Wins

Feeling the impact of Australia’s refugee policy, a group of Tamils form a community as they organise weekly football matches in Western Sydney and support each other through life’s challenges.

Director: Zebedee Parkes

One in a Million
CPR instructor, Dave Winner experienced a surfing accident in 2021. After being brought back to life, Dave has made it his mission to teach one million people CPR for free by 2030. Backed by his community, Dave strives to overcome his physical condition to run his first free CPR class.

Director: Dylan Nicholls

She; Who Lives
Set in a day on a local train, the film is about the fears and dreams of migrant mothers through the lens of displacement.

Director: Ayesha Farooq