Andrew Wiseman.

New AIDC CEO Andrew Wiseman has been in the job for a week, after a month-long handover period.

“Britt Arthur, the outgoing CEO, has been very generous with her time and the board arranged a really good transitional period,” said Wiseman. “So I’ve had a number of weeks to get my head around all the moving parts of AIDC.” 

Producing and directing for over twenty-five years, Wiseman’s long list of credits includes Kokoda (2010), My Brother Jack (2001), After the Deluge (2003), Curtin (2007), and Waiting at the Royal (2000). Most recently he directed documentary On Richard’s Side (2016).

The veteran comes into the job with the 2017 program already outlined. “There are some gaps in the program and we’ll be looking to fill them. But I feel very lucky to come into an organization that’s in such strong shape.”

AIDC was confirmed last week to be staying in Melbourne until at least 2020, a development Wiseman is “delighted” about. He points to the value of ACMI as a space that facilitates connections: a fundamental part of the event’s charter.

“The conference needs to do a range of things. It needs to provide a place where you can have great connections between all the people working in the screen sector for documentary factual and unscripted. Having attended the 2016 event, I think it did that really well. I want to continue that, I want to continue to provide a place which is very inclusive.”

2017 will be a banner year for the conference, with AIDC ringing in 30 years.

“In that period there’ve been 22 conferences, because some of the early ones weren’t every year,” said Wiseman. 

For Wiseman, the anniversary celebrations are a chance to look forwards as much as backwards: to “provide a platform so that we can look to the future and look what’s over the horizon. Because as we all know the world is changing very quickly and the documentary sector is part of that, and you simply have to be very nimble and agile to stay up with it.” 

“Which I think can be very exciting; there are wonderful opportunities there. But there is also a paradox embedded in that because there is a proliferation of ways of doing things. We know there’s a proliferation of new methods of distribution, which provide many opportunities but also huge challenges in working out which ones are best for any individual project.”

Next year’s conference will continue 2016’s focus on virtual reality, with a day devoted to VR and christened ‘VR Plus’.

After hosting the makers of The Jinx last year, AIDC will again feature a true-crime heavy hitter in the form of Ezra Edelman, the director and producer of eight-hour doco O.J.: Made in America – a “stunning piece of filmmaking,” according to Wiseman – which will screen in full over one day of the 2017 conference.

“We’ve got John Battsek, Academy Award winner for One Day in September; Amy Hobby (What Happened, Miss Simone?), from the Tribeca Film Institute, who’s also an Academy Award nominee. It is the Australian International Documentary Conference, so we need to see what’s working in our own backyard but very much engage with the rest of the world.”

“I’m looking forward to putting on an event that has something for everyone in the screen sector in this area. I think that’s really important. And as I mentioned before, to celebrate what we do, which is to create stories. Clearly we live in interesting times, and interesting times demand great stories. An event like this is just a crucial part of the landscape in order to find a way to continue to tell great stories.”

AIDC 2017 takes place March 5 – 8  at ACMI, Melbourne.