Screen Australia puts $1.9 million towards 11 docos

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson (Photo: Fran Moore).

Screen Australia has announced $1.9 million in production funding for 10 documentaries through the Producer program and one through the Commissioned program.

The slate includes a feature documentary celebrating fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson; a three-part exploration of contemporary Indigenous art from Wildbear/Frame Up Films; and a new series from Northern Pictures for SBS about domestic violence in Australia.

Head of documentary Bernadine Lim said: “We are thrilled to support these documentaries from around the country, with stories that celebrate iconic Australians including retailer Franco Cozzo, designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, and tennis champion Jelena Dokic.”

“This slate is set to shine a light on crucial and timely issues of family violence and the environment, and explore art and science through innovative storytelling technology.”

Producer Program projects:

  • Art of Australia and the Pacific (working title): A three-part series from Wildbear Entertainment and Frame Up Films about Indigenous art from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific – from its deep origins and tumultuous histories, to its rise to global prominence today. This series will be presented by actor and dancer Aaron Pedersen and art historian Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, who will embark on a global journey together to explore the power of contemporary Indigenous artists and the traditions on which they draw. The creative team features writer/director Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology) along with writer/producers Dena Curtis (Ella) and Owen Hughes (The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill), producer Alan Erson (There Goes Our Neighbourhood) and executive producer Michael Tear (Waltzing the Dragon). This project is financed with support from NZ On Air.
  • Audrey & Me: A feature documentary that tells the story of Miriam, a Warlpiri woman in Alice Springs, and her adoptive mother and Aboriginal matriarch Audrey. Miriam has been released from prison and is determined to end a cycle of violence and incarceration, while Audrey searches for answers about the sons she lost 40 years ago. The two women return to their traditional homeland to help navigate a new beginning. This documentary will be written, directed and produced by Penelope McDonald (Buckskin). McDonald will team up with cinematographer Dylan River and producers Trisha Morton-Thomas and Rachel Clements who previously worked together on Finke: There & Back. This project is financed with support from NITV.
  • Dark Water: Battle on the Franklin: A feature documentary about one of the most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history, the saving of Tasmania’s Franklin River in the 1970s. The story will be told by young Tasmanian Oliver Cassidy, who follows in the activists’ footsteps and embarks on a solo rafting pilgrimage down the Franklin. This documentary will be directed and co-written by Kasimir Burgess (The Leunig Fragments) and co-written by Claire Smith (Catalyst series 14-16). It will be produced by Chris Kamen (Small is Beautiful), line produced by Annie Venables (Bespoke) and co-produced by Oliver Cassidy. This project is developed with the assistance of Screen Tasmania.
  • Jenny & Linda (working title): A feature documentary from Blackfella Films about designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, two women who sparked a revolution in Australian fashion and took on the world. Celebrating the women’s friendship of over 45 years, this documentary will be directed by Amanda Blue (Deep Water – The Real Story) and written by Jacob Hickey (Filthy Rich & Homeless). It will be produced by Darren Dale (The Tall Man) and Fran Moore (Peter Allen: The Boy from Oz). This project is financed with support from the National Gallery of Australia.
  • Palazzo di Cozzo: The first feature documentary from writer/director Madeleine Martiniello (The Unmissables) that presents a portrait of beloved Melbourne furniture store owner, Franco Cozzo. Cozzo, a post-war Sicilian migrant and aspiring entertainer who arrived in the 1950s and soon became a household name through his iconic television ads, now strives to secure his legacy as Australia and his clientele change around him. This project will be produced by Film Camp’s Philippa Campey and Samantha Dinning whose credits include No Time for Quiet and The Leunig Fragments. It is developed with assistance from Film Victoria and financed with support from Sharmill Films, The Post Lounge and Film Victoria.
  • Star Dreaming: A 45-minute documentary which explores Indigenous sky stories as seen through the eyes of Yamaji Artists from the mid-west region of Western Australia, and explains the science behind them with the assistance of the world’s largest radio telescope. Told from the perspective of two children, this project fuses live action with CGI animation to create a cinematic experience for 180-degree dome cinemas. Star Dreaming will be made in collaboration with the Yamaji Art Centre and will be directed by Perun Bonser (Blight). Bonser is joined by producer Julia Redwood and executive producers Ed Punchard, Jules Fortune and Ian Booth of Prospero Productions, whose credits include Whale Super Highway and Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia. This project is produced with support from Screenwest and the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, and financed with support from Curtin University.
  • The Fun of Fear VR: An immersive VR documentary that explores the history and science of fear as entertainment, delving into why people are so willing to spend money on being scared witless by horror films, games and books. The creative team includes writer/director Lester Francois, and producers Erinn Stevenson and Anna Brady who previously teamed up on award-winning VR documentary RONE. This project is developed with assistance from Film Victoria.
  • Unbreakable: The Jelena Dokic Story: A feature documentary from In Films about tennis star Jelena Dokic, who overcame extraordinary odds of poverty, bullying and the brutality of her father to become a champion. This project will be written and directed by acclaimed director Wayne Blair (Top End Wedding). Blair is joined by writer/producer Ivan O’Mahoney (Hitting Home) and writer Jessica Halloran who co-authored Dokic’s 2018 memoir Unbreakable. Roadshow Films are on board as the Australian/New Zealand distributor with worldwide rights.
  • Worlds: An eight-part online series and short immersive film that will explore the forces of nature including light, waves and gravity, and how they work together. Artist and writer/director Josef Gatti will experiment with these forces through audio visual art pieces, showcasing the patterns present in the natural world. Worlds will be produced by Rob Innes (Housemates) and composer/music producer Joseph Nizeti (Mountain), and executive produced by Michael Lynch.

Commissioned project:

  • See What You Made Me Do: A three-part series from Northern Pictures for SBS which follows investigative journalist Jess Hill as she delves into what makes domestic abuse so difficult to identify, often impossible to escape, and slippery to fix. This series puts faces to the names associated with domestic homicide – the men who choose to be violent, the women who have died, families who are fighting to protect themselves, and the people at the coal face determined to rewrite this story. It will also show the ways this national emergency can be overhauled, saving lives and futures now, not just for generations to come. The series is directed by Tosca Looby (Magical Land of Oz) and executive produced by Karina Holden (Love on the Spectrum). This project is financed with support from SBS and Screen NSW.