Screen Australia will fund 14 documentary projects to the tune of AU$2.7 million (US$1.9m), including the ABC series Revelation and the feature-length Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra.
Anchoring the list of funded docs are Revelation, a three-part series directed by Deborah Masters and commissioned by the ABC, follows journalist Sarah Ferguson as she investigates child abuse within the Catholic Church along with the massive cover-up that took place; and Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s feature film Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra (pictured), in which Stephen Page tells the story of the iconic Indigenous performing arts company Bangarra.
The funding comes through two Screen Australia programs, with AU$1.3 million allocated through the Documentary Producer program and AU$1.4 million through the Documentary Commissioned program.
The Producer program is designed to give producers foundational funding to leverage projects creatively and commercially, with a clear view to getting projects to audiences. The Commissioned program supports projects for TV broadcast, VOD or similar, with a local presale and minimum license fee at the application stage.
“Documentary continuously works as a platform to amplify marginalized voices and ideas, and there are a variety of stories in this slate from multicultural, transgender and Indigenous perspectives that will enrich and enlighten viewers,” said Sally Caplan, head of content at Screen Australia, in a statement.
“The documentary art form allows us to unravel and explore complex and often challenging topics, and these projects take on some difficult and topical subject matter including death, abuse and consent. These are important Australian stories that will be recorded as part of our shared national history.”
The full list of projects funded through the Commissioned stream are Business As Usual, a one-hour doc about a family-run event business in Sydney, produced by Jennifer Cummins for Heiress Films and director Bruce Permezel, and commissioned by SBS with funding from Create NSW; Revelation, produced by Nial Fulton for In Films and executive produced by Ivan O’Mahoney, and commissioned by the ABC’s Stephen Oliver; and Secret Life of Death, a one-hour doc about two family-run funeral homes in Sydney, produced by Nia Pericles and executive produced by Adam Kay and Gary Russell for Mint Pictures and Tangerine Pictures, commissioned by SBS with funding from Create NSW.
Also included in the Commissioned slate are Trans Mission, a one-hour doc about transgender truck driver Holly Conroy’s bid to stage a Mardi Gras in the Christian town of Wagga Wagga, produced and directed by Catherine Scott and executive produced by Adam Kay for Mint Pictures, and commissioned by SBS with funding from Create NSW; and Young, Dateable and Disabled, an hour-long doc about love and relationships in the disabled community, produced by Dominique Pile, executive produced by Laurie Critchley and commissioned by SBS with funding from Create NSW.
Meanwhile, Producer-funded projects are The Bamboo Bridge, about the 1.5 km-long bamboo bridge built every year across the Mekong River to join the rural community of Koh Paen to the city of Kampong Cham in Cambodia, replaced in 2017 by a permanent concrete bridge by the government, produced by Matadora Films by Claire Fletcher and Alejandra Canales and executive produced by Pat Fiske and Katherine Gibson; Bone to Pick, produced by Danny Lachevre for FanForce Films, about the dramatic recovery of a dog with chronic illness when his owner switches him to a raw diet; Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchain and the Future of the Internet, co-produced with Studio Hamburg Enterprises, which follows the world of blockchain technology; and Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, produced by Ivan O’Mahoney and executive produced by Nial Fulton, financed with support from ABC and Create NSW, with Icon Films serving as the Australian and New Zealand distributor.
Also funded through the Producer program are Heart of the Queen, about a singer trying to become a star in Nashville, produced by Carolina Sorensen and Clare Lewis’ company People Productions, with Tait Brady of Acme Film Co. serving as the EP; Martha, produced by Daniel Joyce for Projector Films and executive produced by Jennifer Peedom, about street art photographer Martha Cooper; States of Consent, a 20-minute online doc produced by Mariel Thomas that follows one woman’s quest for justice after she’s sexually assaulted; Uluru & the Magician, about a Sydney magician forced to reckon with Indigenous culture as he tries to reboot his career, produced by Rachel Clements and Trisha Morton-Thomas of Brindle Films; and Virtual Yagan VR, which looks at pre-contact Whadjak Noongar culture through 3D animation and interactive tasks, with Alice Wolfe of Periscope Pictures producing.