Chris Phillips, Caro Macdonald and Anu Hasbold (Photo credit: Nicola Bernardi).

At The Coalface, This Is Reality and Give Us Green, Darling! are the three winners of the Screen Australia and Al Jazeera English Witness pitching competition, held at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) in Melbourne earlier this week.

Each project receives a $100,000 commission, with 50/50 funding from Screen Australia and Al Jazeera English to make a 25-minute documentary which will be released on AJE Witness platforms.

Screen Australia head of documentary Bernadine Lim said: “The pitches and trailers presented at AIDC blew us away with the quality of their subject rigour, visual impact and diversity of ideas.”

“These three teams have earned a unique opportunity to build professional relationships and learn from collaborating with an international, award-winning documentary platform to take their stories to the world.”

AJE Witness EP Fiona Lawson-Baker said: “We are so excited to move ahead with these three filmmaking teams in collaboration with Screen Australia. We have been very impressed with the high quality of applications as well as the five pitches presented at AIDC. These documentaries capture a diverse range of human experiences against a backdrop of topical global issues. They represent the best emerging documentary talent in Australia, and we can’t wait to show them on Witness for Al Jazeera’s global audiences.”

Project synopses: 

At the Coalface

In the wake of Mongolia’s ban on raw coal, this documentary follows Manibold Lkhamjav and his family as they navigate the transition away from coal. They live in Nalaikh, a sparse post-Soviet town in Mongolia, where every winter locals dig dark tunnels into the earth to cut raw coal and sell it on the black market. This project is from Victorian director Anu Hasbold.

This is Reality

East Timorese ex-resistance fighter turned artist Osme creates a fictional alter-ego called Rambo Marabunta, a roving TV reporter to question the population and interrogate his own past. He starts by posting short clips on Facebook and quickly grows into East Timor’s first YouTube star. This project follows Osme’s journey as the local TV station offers him a prime-time slot for the first East Timorese ‘reality’ TV show. This documentary is from NSW director Chris Phillips (Lost Rambos).

Give Us Green, Darling! 

Darwin’s ‘laksa queen’, Amye Un is a local personality with a cult following. When she recently chastised her local council for the lack of greenery in a video, it went viral and embarrassed the council into action. Buoyed by her popularity, Amye now wants to try her luck by standing in the Territory 2020 elections and is set to take on the Northern Territory’s most powerful to ‘give us green’. This documentary is from Northern Territory director Caro Macdonald.

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