The Sydney, Australia-based Shark Island Institute has selected the six documentary projects that will take part in the inaugural Shark Island Story Development and Impact Lab, which aims to strengthen the skills of Australian doc filmmakers.
Each project, a social impact documentary feature currently in development, will receive up to AU$25,000 (US$18,500) in development funding, and international and local mentorship over the span of a year. When the Lab takes place in August, the selected teams will receive one-on-one meetings and industry sessions designed to hone the teams’ skills as indie storytellers.
The Shark Island Institute will also work with each team on “both distribution and potential for social impact for each project.”
For the Story Development and Impact Lab, Shark Island Institute has teamed with international mentors and leaders in documentary including Kristin Feeley (Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program), Jenny Raskin (Impact Partners NYC) and Academy Award-winning writer Mark Monroe (Diamond Docs; pictured).
The initiative from Shark Island Institute represents a continuation of founder Ian Darling’s investment in Australia’s documentary space. Darling established the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF) in 2008 and Good Pitch Australia in 2014. According to a Shark Institute release, Good Pitch Australia raised more than AU$15 million in philanthropic grants for the selected 19 social impact documentaries and their impact campaigns.
The first six projects selected in 2018 are listed below, with descriptions courtesy of the Shark Island Institute:
Co-directors: Ez Eldin Deng & Hollie Fifer; Producer: Philippa Campey
As the South Sudanese community in the western suburbs of Melbourne faces a media storm with reports of gang violence, their elders decried as incompetent, young South Sudanese leader and filmmaker Ez Eldin Deng has a plan. Armed with a camera and teamed up with collaborator and documentary filmmaker, Hollie Fifer, this film will challenge the stereotypes and reveal a version of his community not often heard or seen in mainstream media.
We embark on the extraordinary life story of carbon, the most talked about but least understood element on earth. Through an epic sensory cinematic adventure through time and place we reveal that carbon’s story is not just about a warming climate, devastated oceans and whether or not we should put a tax on it. The story of carbon is the essential story of us.
Democracy For Sale
Co-director/Writer: Christiaan Van Vuuren; Producer: Dave Cain;
Executive producers: Jason Burrows & Jen Peedom
Christiaan Van Vuuren’s apathetic life detours the day he discovers a government plan to relax Australian gun laws. With two kids (and a reasonable desire they not be shot at school), this becomes an exploration of hyper-capitalism, political donations and lobbying against gun control, by a comedian who’s fed-up with a political system that prioritizes corporations over the people it’s supposed to protect.
Life After Juvie
Director/Producer: Charby Ibrahim
Thousands of young offenders will walk out of juvenile detention centers across Australia this year. According to the statistics, more than 6 in 10 will return. Life After Juvie is an observational documentary that explores the challenges faced by young people after their release, exploring what separates those who are able to break the cycle, from those who remain locked in the criminal justice system.
Monuments – History Doesn’t Stand Still
Co-directors: Laura Murphy-Oates & Rani Chaleyer; Co-producer: Teri Calder
Across Australia, the nation’s colonial founders stand memorialized in stone but the atrocities of colonization do not. Laura Murphy-Oates confronts the deeply contested stories behind our public monuments and explores how a truthful reckoning with the past can bring the nation together rather than tear it apart.
The Investigative Artist
Director/Producer: Yaara Bou Melhem; Impact Producer: Georgia Quinn
Mass surveillance, data collection and artificial intelligence are abstract but all pervasive realities of our lives. But how do you make the unseen accountable? This film is a part human, part artificial intelligence driven journey into the visualizations of one of the world’s leading contemporary artists as he battles to reveal the unseen forces shaping our lives and futures.