Screen Australia announces $1.7 million of production funding for seven documentaries


An exploration into the deepest freshwater cave in the world and a snapshot of rugby league and women’s sport in Australia are among the subjects of seven documentaries that will share in over $1.7 million of production funding from Screen Australia.

The agency is set to fund three documentaries through the Commissioned Program and four projects through the Producer Program. They include Deeper, which follows Thai Cave Rescue divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen on their fascinating exploration of the deepest freshwater cave in the world; NITV feature Skin in the Game which dives into the highly-contested world of rugby league and women’s sport in Australia; and Floodland, which documents Australia’s most flood-prone postcode of Lismore and the aftermath of the 2022 floods.

Screen Australia head of documentary Alex West said Screen Australia was proud to be supporting such talented creatives.

“From exploring the natural phenomena and the power of Mother Nature to the complexity of our minds and bodies, this diverse collection of documentaries is not to be missed,” he said.

The Commissioned Program projects are:

  • Osher Günsberg: My Journey Beyond Pain: This one-hour follow-up to Osher Günsberg: A Matter of Life and Death for SBS follows presenter Osher Günsberg as he undertakes a personal investigation into his own pain journey and where he not only meets people living with chronic pain and explores new treatments, but also those who enjoy pain and seek it out. Writer David Galloway executive produces with Ashley Davies and Leonie Lowe. My Journey Beyond Pain is funded in association with SBS and financed with support from Screen NSW. International sales will be managed by Escapade Media.
  • Skin in the Game: This 60-minute documentary for NITV follows Marlee Silva, a proud Gamilaroi and Dunghutti woman who grew up in the world of rugby league as the daughter of legendary footballer, Rod ‘Rocket’ Silva. Now, as an emerging sports commentator and media star, Silva dives into the highly-contested world of rugby league and women’s sport in Australia to ask where we are heading as a nation. Skin in the Game is written and directed by Dena Curtis, with Silva, Laurie Critchley, and Georgia Woodward executive producing. It is financed in association with NITV, with support from Screen NSW and the Shark Island Institute.
  • Unofficial History: This three-part series for SBS cracks open a forgotten vault to reveal the stories and pictures of Australia as it went through a startling transformation in the 1970s. This documentary depicts a country that resisted change for so long and highlights what eventuated into the modern nation we now know – exploring the difficulties that underrepresented groups living in Australia experienced and the gains they made that now need to be protected. The creative team comprises writer/director Chris Eley, director Pauline Clague, director Ili Baré, and producers Jo-anne McGowan and Rebecca Bennett. It is financed in association with SBS with support from the National Film Sound Archive (NFSA), Screen NSW, and The Post Lounge. International sales will be managed by ABC Commercial, while post, digital and visual effects are supported by Screen NSW.

The Producer Program projects are:

  • Deeper: This feature-length documentary follows heroes of the Thai Cave Rescue, Richard “Harry” Harris and his dive partner Craig Challen, as they challenge themselves to solve the mystery of one of the world’s deepest freshwater cave systems, New Zealand’s Pearse Resurgence. As they tackle the last frontier of exploration, pushing to record depths in a cold, dark, and scary underworld, they will test the relationships of those closest to them, including each other. Attached are writer/director Jennifer Peedom, producer Blayke Hoffman, and executive producers Sarah Noonan and Jo-anne McGowan. It is financed in association with Screen NSW which is also supporting post, digital and visual effects. Local distribution is by Madman Entertainment, with K2 studios managing international sales.
  • Floodland: A feature-length documentary following Australia’s most flood-prone postcode of Lismore, after it was shattered by its worst-ever catastrophe in 2022. Floodland goes beyond the headlines of the most expensive climate disaster in Australia’s history and asks whether the region as we know it can survive. In the struggle for the soul of Lismore, Bundjalung leaders emerge with a different vision, where First Nations knowledge plays a vital role in healing, planning, and respecting the rivers. Through the story of Floodland, audiences are confronted with a challenging history and an uncertain future that affects us all. Writer/director Jordan Giusti is working with co-writer Joseph Nizeti, producers Gal Greenspan and Rachel Forbes, and executive producer Alice Burgin. It is produced in association with VicScreen. Local distribution will be managed by Bonsai Films, with post, digital, and visual effects supported by Blue Post.
  • The Musical Mind…A Portrait In Process: Inspired by the 25th anniversary of his movie Shine, writer/director Scott Hicks explores the creative process of four elite international musicians in this feature-length documentary. With unprecedented access to their private worlds, the film celebrates how each neuro-atypical artist expresses the unique creativity, power, and pain of their art with passion, emotion, and humour. The film is produced by Kerry Heysen, written/co-produced by Jett Heysen-Hicks, and executive produced by David Chiem and Mikael Borglund. It is funded in association with the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), who also supported post and digital effects, and financed with support from the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund. Local distribution will be managed by Bonsai Films with Banijay Rights taking on international sales.
  • Welcome to Yiddishland: A feature-length observational documentary about a global movement of artists as they revive the ancient and endangered Yiddish language, to share an inclusive and progressive understanding of their world. Guided by the experience of a cross-cultural youth choir as they learn and finally perform new Yiddish songs at the world’s leading Yiddish arts festival in Germany, Welcome to Yiddishland follows theatre directors, writers, musicians, and performers as they unlock and transmit the hard-learned lessons of their ancestors. Written and directed by Ros Horin and produced by Jeff Daniels, the film is financed with support from Philanthropy via Documentary Australia. It was developed with the assistance of VicScreen and Screen NSW, with Label Distribution managing local distribution.