Adam Goodes (Photo credit: Cameron Spencer, Getty Images).

Documentaries examining the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, Australia’s frontier conflicts and race and identity through the prism of former AFL star Adam Goodes are being funded by Screen Australia in one of the final funding rounds overseen by Liz Stevens.

As IF reported, Stevens is departing in late August after serving as senior manager for documentary since Screen Australia was created in 2008, preceded by five years at Film Australia.

The agency has advertised for a head of documentary, a wider role which includes working with head of production Sally Caplan on scripted projects across any genre, format or platform.

Stevens, who will pursue other creative opportunities, said: “Over the last 10 years working at Screen Australia I have been impressed by the dedication and skill of Australian documentary filmmakers. I have seen the great care and craft they’ve used to record a snapshot of our shared history. Sometimes fearless, sometimes beautiful but always informative, Australian audiences are so lucky to have such a diverse range of stories on offer.

“Collectively we can be proud that we have contributed to funding these documentaries, through Screen Australia, because it speaks to the value we place on recording our nation, its people and our home.”

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “Liz Stevens has been a fierce advocate for documentary and is one of those rare people who embrace change in her chosen art form. Her legacy is literally a catalogue of true Australian stories, having overseen countless memorable and significant documentaries from the landmark Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail, blue chip Life on the Reef, to the confronting and international Emmy award-winning Go Back to Where You Came From, the touching Matilda and Me and hit social-change titles like War on Waste, That Sugar Film and Embrace.”

The agency is providing $2.9 million in production funding for 10 projects through the Documentary Producer and Documentary Commissioned programs.  In total, $1.5 million was allocated through the Producer program and $1.4 million through the Commissioned program.

The Documentary Commissioned projects are:

Renegade Films’ one-hour documentary Aftermath-Beyond the Firestorm for the ABC, from Lucy Maclaren, Joe Connor and Ken Connor, the team that created Inside the Firestorm for the ABC in 2009. Directed by Tony Jackson, the doco will delve into the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and tell a story of recovery, re-birth and resilience of the human spirit.

Blackfella Films’ three-part series First Wars for SBS, which examines Australia’s frontier conflicts, written by Jacob Hickey (First Contact), produced by Darren Dale (First Australians) and directed by Rachel Perkins (First Australians).

A second series of SBS’s Marry Me, Marry My Family from CJZ. The three-parter about love, heartbreak, colour and chaos will uncover new stories of cross-cultural weddings in Australia, produced by Sophie Meyrick (Embedded) with Andrew Farrell (Working Class Boy) as executive producer.

The Documentary Producer projects are:

Good Thing Productions and Passion Pictures’ co-production The Australian Dream, which will focus on AFL legend Adam Goodes as the prism through which to tell a deeper story about race, identity and belonging. As reported by IF, Stan Grant will write the theatrical feature directed by Daniel Gordon (Hillsborough). The producers are Sarah Thompson, Nick Batzias (That Sugar Film), John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man) and Virginia Whitwell (All for One), financed with support from Film Victoria.

A short animated online documentary, Bright Lights – The Perils of the Pokies, written, directed and produced by Charby Ibrahim, which explores the impact of gambling addiction through the stories of an addict. It will be executive produced by Helen Gaynor, who produced the documentary series Addiction, and Jennifer Peedom (Mountain). This is the third animated documentary by Ibrahim, whose previous work The Jolly Swagman  screened at the Antenna Film Festival. His most recent project The Holiday Inn-Side had its world premiere at Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this year.

Immersive Virtual Reality documentary Future Dreaming, which will bring to life the future dreams of four Australian Aboriginal youths by using VR tools to prototype their future. The documentary will be written, directed and produced by Sutu (aka Stuart Campbell), who has extensive experience in creating interactive narrative experiences both in AR and VR.  Robyn Marais, who produced Connection to Country, will produce.

A 20-30-minute VR documentary Rone, written and directed by Lester Francois and produced by Erinn Stevenson and Anna Brady. This is a distinctive portrait of the street artist Rone, whose  large-scale portraits of women’s faces adorn soon to be forgotten spaces, with the assistance of Film Victoria.

Artemis Media’s Storm in a Teacup, an intimate portrait of renowned Western Australian artist Leon Pericles as he embarks on his biggest retrospective exhibition to date, juggling his roles of artist, husband and carer to his wife Moira. This one-hour documentary for the ABC is written and directed by Nia Pericles and executive produced by Celia Tait (Who Do You Think You Are?), with finance support from Screenwest.

Robot Army and Ruby Entertainment’s The Hunt, a one-hour observational documentary about the controversial sightings of Big Cats in the Australian bush,  driven by characters who have dedicated their lives to proving these creatures exist despite the many naysayers. Written, directed and produced by Stu Ross (Rostered On), with the experienced team of Stephen Luby  and Mark Ruse also producing.

A 90-minute feature The Victoria Project (working title) by DNX Media, written and directed by Jennifer Peedom, executive produced by Stuart Menzies and produced by Ruth Cross, Simon Nasht, John Smithson and  Peedom. Details about this project will be revealed later.

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