‘This Is Going To Be Big’, ‘Never Let Him Go’ recognised at AIDC Awards

'This Is Going To Be Big'.

Thomas Charles Hyland’s This Is Going to Be Big has added the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) Award for Best Feature Documentary to its gongs from last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, receiving the $5,000 cash prize at this afternoon’s ceremony.

The high school-set documentary, which was also nominated for Best Documentary at the AACTA Awards and will soon be shown on the ABC, follows a community as they prepare for their school’s time-travelling John Farnham-themed musical. It was produced by Jim Wright, Josie Mason-Campbell and Catherine Bradbury.

In its statement, the jury said it had been touched by the “deceptively simple but masterfully crafted coming of age story”, noting the Truce Films/Fremantle production shone for its “highly original subject matter”.

“Director Thomas Charles Hyland and his team thoughtfully engages the young students to partake in the filming process which impressed the jury for its inclusive approach,” they said.

“The patient, fly-on-the-wall editing and cinematography lovingly centres the narrative within the students’ perspective to joyous and entertaining effect. One can see that the filmmaking team built a trusting relationship with the school, students, and families, resulting in a gem of a film about the power of kindness and what it means to belong.”

Hosted TV presenter, broadcaster, and educator Namila Benson, the award ceremony at ACMI marked the conclusion of the four-day conference, which this year was attended by more than 750 delegates, including 117 local and international speakers and 103 local and international decision makers.

Other winners on the night were Blackfella Films and Show of Force miniseries Never Let Him Go, which was named Best Documentary/Factual series.

Directed by Jacob Hickey and Jeff Dupre, who also produced alongside Darren Dale and Saralena Weinfield, the series follows Steve Johnson as he embarks on a multi-decade quest for justice after his brother Scott was found sprawled below a cliff on a rugged beach in Sydney in 1988.

In its comments, the jury said the story of persistence to find the truth in the face of political and institutional obstruction had resulted in a “beautifully crafted and emotional series”.

‘Never Let Him Go’.

“The archival and the contemporary footage are used to maximum effect, as are still photographs and the insightful interviews conducted over the period of production,” the jury said.

Never Let Him Go is very fine filmmaking and stands as a testament to the ability of dedication and love to bring some light out of the darkness of a tragedy.”

The AIDC Awards presentation also included the announcement of the Fresh Cuts Documentary Pitch winners, with CEO/creative director Natasha Gadd revealing that Paradise Camp: Homecoming, In, Out, and Fridge Foraging are now in the running to receive up to $30,000 each in development funding from Screen Australia.

The FACTory Pitch winners for this year comprised Carine Wallauer’s Copan (Sheffield Doc/Fest Prize), K.D’s Life in Shadows (Hot Docs Prize), David Cook’s Frontline Rangers (Sunny Side of the Doc Prize and Doc Edge Prize), Nupur Agrawal and Shivajee Biswanath’s Downhill Kargill (Dok Leipzig Prize), and Vikram Singh’s Camels of the Sea (Docs By The Sea Prize).

As previously reported, Northern Pictures head of factual Karina Holden was the inaugural recipient of the Southern Light Award, designed to celebrate luminaries of the Australian documentary and factual industry.

The ceremony concluded with a tribute to screen journalist and 2022 AIDC Stanley Hawes Award winner David Tiley, who is critically unwell.

“David has been an indefatigable champion of documentary and factual production and one of our most passionate grassroots commentators and a singular voice on screen business in the Australia media,” Gadd said.

“Thank you for helping us to honour the wonderful David Tiley tonight.”

The full list of winners:


This is Going to be Big
2023 | Truce Films & Fremantle Media
Jim Wright, Josie Mason-Campbell, Catherine Bradbury, Thomas Hyland


Never Let Him Go
2023 | Blackfella Films & Show of Force
Darren Dale, Jacob Hickey, Jeff Dupre, Saralena Weinfield


Rebel With a Cause: Oodgeroo Noonuccal
2023 | Inkey Media
Sio F Tusa, Citt Williams


Marungka tjalatjunu (Dipped in black)
2023 | Other Pictures & Switch Productions
Matthew Thorne, Derik Lynch

This award is supported by AFTRS, with a $3,000 cash prize.

House of Skulls
2023 | Sony & Audible
Marc Fennell, Pallavi Kottamasu, Paul Horan

This award is supported by research centre Deakin Motion Lab (DML), with a $3,000 cash prize.

Turbulence: Jamais Vu
2023 | Pernickety Split
Ben Joseph Andrews, Emma Roberts