Rosemary Kariuki ofRosemary’s Way’.

Screen Australia has announced the final round of documentary funding for the 2018-19 financial year, which sees $3.8 million spread across 18 projects – five under the commissioned program and 13 under the producer program.

The announcement comes as Screen Australia prepares to seek industry feedback on proposed updates to its documentary funding programs; the agency will release an issues paper in late September.

“The last time our documentary programs were revised was in 2014-15, and since that time there has been substantial change in screen business models, content creation and audience viewing habits,” said Screen Australia head of documentary Bernadine Lim.

“We will be looking to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and how Screen Australia can best support quality, culture and innovation in the documentary industry.”

A review of the documentary programs was first announced in January, when the agency flagged that the base funding pool for the Producer Equity Program (PEP), which provides a direct payment of funds (approx 20 per cent of production budget) to producers of eligible low-budget documentaries, would be depleted before the end of the financial year. Funds were eventually exhausted in April. 

In 2018-19, Screen Australia’s documentary department disbursed $16.26 million in funding, which was slightly higher than the previous two financial years. In 2018-19 funding was provided to 173 projects across development (46), Producer Program (34), Commissioned Program (24), initiatives (7) and PEP (62). Additional funding was provided to SAFC Doculab.

The projects funded in the latest round include a series from Blackfella Films that explores the topic of addiction, a feature from Kriv Stenders about country music icon Joy McKean, as well as a feature centred on the trailblazing women who fought for women’s surfing to become an international sport.

Lim said: “We’re delighted to fund a wide range of projects that explore unique aspects of Australian history and put a spotlight on contemporary issues including addiction and migration. It’s also exciting to support so many projects that celebrate stories of powerful Australian women and recognise their achievements in sport, music, agriculture as well as building communities among new Australians. I’m confident these projects will not only entertain but also spark conversations.”

Recent projects supported via the producer program:

Third Man Films Pty Ltd
Producers Rob Coe, Warwick Ross
Executive Producers Madeleine Ross, Paul Wiegard
Writer/Directors Rob Coe, Warwick Ross
Synopsis Four Zimbabwean refugees who were forced to flee their home country in search of a better life become Africa’s best and most unlikely sommeliers and compete in the World Wine Blind Tasting Championships – the Olympics of the wine world.

Film Camp Pty Ltd

Producers Philippa Campey, Andrea Foxworthy
Executive Producer Sue Maslin
Writer/Director Catherine Dwyer
Synopsis Brazen Hussies, for the first time, tells the story of the bold women who ignited a feminist revolution in Australia during the Women’s Liberation era.

In Films Pty Ltd
 Ivan O’Mahoney, Yaara Bou Melhem
Executive Producer Nial Fulton
Writer/Director Yaara Bou Melhem
Synopsis Mass surveillance, data collection and A.I. are abstract but all pervasive realities of our lives. But how do you make the unseen accountable? This film is a part human, part A.I. driven journey into the works and mind of Trevor Paglen, the world’s leading contemporary artist in revealing the unseen forces shaping our lives and futures.

Rush Films Pty Ltd

Producer Cody Greenwood
Directors Frances Elliott, Samantha Marlowe
Synopsis Over four years, a young woman watches her partner transition from male to female; adjusting to new breasts and hips, incredible mood swings, as well as coming to terms with her own changing sexuality. A raw, intimate and confronting ride into a relationship where little remains constant, Girl Like You challenges audiences to explore the fluidity of their own gender and sexual identity.

Pernickety Split Pty Ltd

Producer Emma Roberts
Writer/Director Ben Andrews
Synopsis An interactive VR installation placing audiences into the centre of an awe-inspiring storm in the world’s oldest rainforest, encouraging sustained action for the Australian environment.

Music Films Pty Ltd
 Sophie Raymond, Clare Sawyer
Executive Producers Helen Panckhurst, Bob Connolly
Director Sophie Raymond
Writers Genevieve Lacey, Sophie Raymond
Synopsis Recorder Queen is a hybrid documentary that invites audiences into the sensory world of Australian musician, Genevieve Lacey, as she explores what lies beyond becoming a virtuoso.

Mitra Films Pty Ltd
 Susan MacKinnon, Anna Cater
Writer/Director Anna Cater
Synopsis Revered by architects around the world, Richard Leplastrier’s search for beauty in his career is interwoven with his own life in a bush camp on the edge of Sydney.

ROSEMARY’S WAY (working title)
Bower Bird Films Pty Ltd
 Pat Fiske
Executive Producer Joe Skrzynski
Writer/Director Ros Horin
Synopsis Charismatic changemaker, Rosemary Kariuki, is on a mission to empower migrant women, enticing them out of cultural silos, exposing them to new ideas, experiences and the wider Australian society – her means are anything but orthodox and laughter her secret weapon.

Pictures in Paradise Pty Ltd
 Chris Brown, Aline Jacques, James Arneman
Executive Producer Joy McKean
Writer/Director Kriv Stenders
Synopsis Australia’s Queen of country music, Joy McKean takes us on the road of her life, revealing the story of her career, her decades of touring around Australia, her marriage of more than fifty years to Slim Dusty, and her determination to be recognised as a performer and songwriter in her own right.

The Acme Film Company Pty Ltd
 Tait Brady, Liam Firmager
Executive Producers Stephanie Stevenson, Jason Byrne, Shaun Miller
Writer/Director Liam Firmager
Synopsis Trailblazer. Inspiration. Survivor. Suzi Q is an intimate feature length theatrical-doc on the life of 70s rock star Suzi Quatro – the first female rocker to play an instrument, front the band, sing lead, write songs – in an era when women were invisible in rock’n’roll bands. Aged 69, still performing and recording, The Queen is here to claim her crown.

6 Seasons Productions
 Shannon Swan
Writer/Director Eddie Martin
Synopsis The Kids is a strikingly personal, all access documentary about the real life individuals who inspired Larry Clark’s 1995 cult classic film Kids.

The Side Show Move Pty Ltd
 Michaela Perske, Christopher Nelius
Executive Producers Rob Galluzo, Michael Hilliard,  Paul Wiegard
Writer/Director Christopher Nelius
Synopsis The untold story of how a band of renegade surfer girls in the 1980s fought to create their own professional sport, changing the face of international surf culture forever.

15 x 6 mins
Kaufmann Productions Pty Ltd

Producer Carsten Orlt
Executive Producer Gisela Kaufmann
Writer/Director Gisela Kaufmann
Synopsis Visible Farmer criss-crosses the country to reveal the extraordinary stories of Australia’s female farmers.

Recent projects supported through the Commissioned Program:

ADDICTED (working title)
3 x 51 mins
Blackfella Films Pty Ltd

Producer Darren Dale
Series Producer Jacob Hickey
Writer Jacob Hickey
Broadcaster SBS
Synopsis Extraordinary access to the lives of a group of Australians and their families, as they confront their addiction head on.

4 x 50 mins
Stranger Than Fiction Films

Producer Jo-anne McGowan
Executive Producer Jennifer Peedom
Directors Lisa Matthews, Rose Hesp
Broadcaster SBS
Synopsis Australia in Colour will inject new life into our precious black and white archives, transforming them into glorious colour.

COME FLY WITH ME (working title)
3 x 52 mins
WildBear Entertainment Pty Ltd
Executive Producer 
Alan Erson
Series Producer Bernice Toni
Director Greg Appel
Writers Prudence Black, Greg Appel, Bernice Toni, Alan Erson
Broadcaster SBS
Synopsis The turbulent history of Australians in the air.

1 x 60 mins
Sea Dog TV International Pty Ltd 
Supervising Producer Leighton De Barros
Producer Jodie De Barros
Executive Producer Jodie De Barros
Directors Leighton De Barros, Jonathan Rowdon
Writers Leighton De Barros, Jonathan Rowdon
Synopsis On an island off the west coast of Australia deadly Tiger snakes have hyper-evolved to become giants, but there may be an even more brutal and effective killer on the island that has stopped the snakes’ accelerated evolution in its tracks, this is Killer Snake Island!

4 x 46 mins
Essential Media and Entertainment Pty Ltd
Executive Producers Brendan Dahill, Sam Griffin, Liz Pape
Director Bruce Permezel 
Writer Bruce Permezel
Broadcaster Foxtel
Synopsis Money School follows behind the scenes as Scott Pape (aka The Barefoot Investor) launches a financial revolution that he hopes will change the nation – starting with kids in school.

2 x 44 mins
Essential Media Group

Series Producer Cassie Charlton
Executive Producers Brendan Dahill, Sam Griffin, Justin Holdforth
Writer/Director Cassie Charlton
Broadcaster Seven Network
Synopsis This two part series examines the rise of women’s elite sport through the lens of the Australian Women’s Cricket team, on and off the pitch, during their quest to win the 2019 Ashes.

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