Screen Australia announces $5 million investment in 13 documentary projects

12 December, 2012 by Staff Writer

Screen Australia today announced it will invest $5 million in 13 documentary projects.

The National Documentary Program has given the green light to three series and a one-off documentary, Welcome to Puntland, which follows the plight of a group of Somali Australians who return to their homeland in hope of repairing the fractured state.


Produced for the SBS by Andrew Ogilvie and Claire Jager, the project comes from writer/director Victoria Pitt and director/camera operator Tim Wise.

Once Upon a Time in Carlton comes after the success of SBS’s Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta and, subsequently, Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl, which is currently in production. The series, produced by Sue Clothier, will delve into 70 years of Italian migrant history in Carlton, Melbourne.

The second series of art + soul will build on its success, offering new insights into contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, art and culture, produced for the ABC by Bridget Ikin and Jo-anne McGowan with writer Hetti Perkins and director Steven McGregor.

Produced for Foxtel by Michael Tear and Harriet Pike is a brand new series entitled Building Australia. The six-part series is directed by Serge Ou and will explore the history and meanings behind the Australian home.

Of the announcement, Screen Australia’s Documentary Manager Liz Stevens said, “This is a great end to the year for documentary. The diverse slate announced today features documentary projects with significant cultural value, strong relevant subject matter, great characters and personal stories. It’s also encouraging to see strong international investment in a number of these projects.”

The International Documentary Program has also approved three series and a one-off documentary.

Projects approved include Art of Australia, a three-part series for ABC1 directed by Alex West and veteran filmmaker Bruce Beresford which will cover 30,000 years of Australian history told through art. The series is produced by Alex West with executive producer Margie Bryant.

Life on Us is a two-part science series for SBS and ARTE France about the bugs that live on us and inside us from director Annamaria Talas and producer Simon Nasht.

The second series of Outback Coroner made for FOXTEL from writer/director Hugh Piper once again explores the unexplained deaths in outback Australia through the eyes of the coroner. The series will be produced by series producer Helen Barrow and producers Bob Campbell, Helen Barrow and Simon Steel.

Red Deer Cave is an investigative science documentary from writer/director Franco di Chiera who will explore the mysterious ancient remains of what may be a new human species recently uncovered by Australian and Chinese scientists. The documentary is produced for ABC1 by Andrew Ogilvie and Claire Jager.

From the General Documentary Program come three new one-off documentaries and two series including Australia: Mediocre and Proud, a six-part series following Daily Telegraph journalist and blogger Joe Hildebrand as he travels Australia exploring the cultural makeup of society. The series will be directed by Ivan O’Mahoney and produced for ABC2 by Michael Cordell and Toni Malone. Also produced by Michael Cordell and Toni Malone for the ABC, the three-part series Two Men in China directed by Damian Davis will see Tim Flannery and John Doyle follow the journey of Australian iron ore from the Pilbara to China.

Our Notebook is a personal and insightful portrait of Australian director Jane Campion and her collaborators at work produced for BBC Worldwide Australia from director/producer Clare Young and producer Sasha Burrows.

Anna Choy explores the new and increasingly controversial phenomenon of ethnic plastic surgery and its effect on multicultural Australia in Race for Beauty produced for SBS by producers Ed Punchard and Julia Redwood.

In My Big Fat Bar Mitzvah director Susan Lambert will look at contemporary Jewish life in Australia by stepping inside the world of some of Australia’s biggest Bar Mitzvah parties. The documentary is produced for the ABC by Veronica Fury.

The investment by Screen Australia in all of these projects is expected to generate almost $15 million in production.