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in the archive
Documentary production
Approvals 2008-2009

National Documentary Program

Australian Documentaries
Producers Laurie Critchley, Lesley Holden
Sales and Distribution ABC TV
Synopsis In this six-part series, six notable families take us on an intimate journey as they reveal for the first time the personal details of their history and the reality of lives that have made headlines. 

Indian Pacific Picture Company
Producer Penny Chapman
Writer/Director Victoria Pitt
Sales and Distribution ABC TV
Synopsis The extraordinary trilogy of the Tampa, the SIEV X and the Children Overboard affair formed one of the defining events of Australian history.

Lowlands Media
Producer Robert de Young
Director Paul Clarke
Sales and Distribution SBS Content Sales and Distribution
Synopsis Follows the story of the Australian rock journalist of the 1960s and 1970s who achieved international success in the fiercely competitive New York rock music scene.

NOT 14 BUT 47
Spirited Films and Big Picture Company
Producers Jenny Day and Gillian Armstrong
Writer/Director Gillian Armstrong
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, Beyond Home Entertainment
Synopsis Not 14 but 47 will be the fifth film in the documentary series Gillian Armstrong has been making about the lives, hopes and dreams of three ordinary/extraordinary Adelaide girls since they were 14 in 1976.

Electric Pictures
Producer Andrew Ogilvie and Andrea Quesnelle
Writer/Director Trevor Graham
Sales and Distribution ABC TV
Synopsis A Royal Romance is an informed, probing and affectionate look at Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with her Australian Realm and its people.

360 Degree Films
Producer John Moore
Director Joan Robinson
Writers Joan Robinson, Dennis Smith, John Moore
Sales and Distribution SBS TV
Synopsis Since the horrific events of 9/11, governments across the world have been scrambling to introduce laws designed to pre-empt terrorist attacks. This is the inside story of the first big trial under Australia’s new anti-terrorism laws.

GOING VERTICAL (documentary feature)
BlueSeas Films
Producer Robert Raymond
Director David Bradbury
Synopsis For the last 40 years, surfers young and old the world over have been fed the one unwavering story about the birth of the shortboard: that it was the Americans who really were behind this revolution in design. But, was it, in fact, the brainchild of Australian surfing legend and surfboard designer Bob McTavish? Now, for the first time, a major new documentary feature film shot in Australia, Hawaii and California will tell both sides of this compelling story, transporting our audience to the world's legendary surfing hangouts – from the famous beaches, bars and surf shops to the shaping rooms and workshops of those now-celebrated boardmakers.

Electric Pictures Pty Ltd
Executive Producer/Producer Andrew Ogilvie
Executive Producer /Co-Writer Phil Craig
Producer Andrea Quesnelle
Director/Co-Writer Steve Westh
Sales and Distribution ABC Television, BBC, BBC Worldwide and DV1
SynopsisThe story of a heroic Australian pilot murdered by the Nazis and of the post-War manhunt to not only find his killer, but those responsible for executing 50 Allied airmen in the aftermath of the Great Escape of WWII.

Domestic Door

Evershine Pty Ltd
Producer/DOP Helen Barrow
Writer/Director Hugh Piper
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, DVI Ovation
Synopsis This is a story of bribery, blackmail and corruption that examines how, like a spider in his web, Australia’s enigmatic crime boss Abe Saffron remained untouchable  for so long.

Fury Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Veronica Fury
Writer/Director David Downey
Sales and Distribution Indigo Films
Synopsis After 15 years on Santa’s ‘naughty list’ Australian filmmaker Dave Downey has decided to redeem himself and get back in touch with his Christmas spirit – going for gold in the ‘Santa Clause Winter Games’.

International Door

Renegade Films
Producers James Maiden and Lucy Maclaren
Executive Producer Alex West
Director Helen Gaynor
Sales and Distribution SBS TV, Al Jazeera, SBS Content Sales
Synopsis Asylum FC follows nine young Zimbabwean soccer players from the slums of Harare in their quest to seek asylum and establish new lives in Australia.

Essential Media and Entertainment
Producer Nial Fulton
Executive Producer Chris Hilton
Directors Leo Faber, Jen Peedom
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, France 5, National Geographic Television International
Synopsis Following the success of Miracle on Everest comes a continuing series of miraculous survival stories.

Electric Pictures
Producers Andrew Ogilvie, Andrea Quesnelle
Writer/Director Victoria Pitt
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, Discovery Communications, More 4 UK, History Channel UK, ABC Commercial
Synopsis Told entirely from the perspective of the survivors of the Mumbai terrorist attack, this is the revealing story of the emotions we experience, the decisions we make and the desperate actions we take when death is staring us in the face.

Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd
Executive Producer Michael Cordell
Directors Andrew Sully, Max Stahl
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, Target Entertainment
Synopsis Tells the story of a forensic investigation into one of the world’s most notorious massacres. In 1991, an estimated 200 people were shot and killed by the Indonesian military during an independence march in occupied East Timor. None of the victims’ bodies has ever been found. Now forensic pathologists from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine have been asked to help find and identify the victims.

Grubstreet Media Pty Ltd
Producers Peter Hiscock, Graham Davis
Director Catherine Hunter
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, Australia Network
Synopsis Art and life combine in spectacular fashion on screen as Chinese contemporary artists reflect the vast social upheaval that has accompanied China’s emergence as a world economic power.

Contact Films Pty Ltd
Producers/Directors Martin Butler, Bentley Dean
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, ZDF/ARTE, ABC Commercial
Synopsis Contact will be constructed around one of the most extraordinary pieces of footage in Australian history: the moment in 1964 where a group of 20 Martu women and children walked out of the Great Sandy Desert into a new universe of European modernity. The event was only captured on film because scientists were testing the Blue Streak Rocket in the desert at the time. Many of the players on both sides are alive to recreate and tell their story.

Bearcage Pty Ltd
Producer Michael Tear
Director Serge Ou
Sales and Distribution Foxtel History Channel
Synopsis Ordinary people. Extraordinary deeds. On the road from Sydney to Canberra 22 ordinary Australians are remembered for their extraordinary deeds of courage and sacrifice: they are winners of the Victoria Cross. This is their story.

Prospero Productions (2006) Pty Ltd
Producers Alan Ed Punchard, Julia Redwood
Director Andrea Ulbrick
Sales and Distribution SBS, BBC Scotland, BBC Worldwide
Synopsis Could the heart be more than just a pump? Startling first-hand experiences appear to suggest something absolutely incredible – that the heart may be capable of thinking, feeling and remembering. Now, in the battle against heart disease, doctors are searching for answers that could finally unlock the mysteries of the heart and understand an intriguing system of neurons dubbed ‘the little brain in the heart’.

CM Film Productions and Frontline Films
Producers Carmelo Musca, David Bradbury
Director David Bradbury
Sales and Distribution SBS TV, SBS Content Sales
Synopsis Contemporary Australian photographer Philip Blenkinsop brings us Asia, a world of conflict, life, love and beauty – a unique perspective through his Asian heart.

Content Mint Pty Ltd
Producer Tina Dalton
Director Susan McMillan
Sales and Distribution ABC, ZDF Arte, National Geographic Television International
Synopsis A natural history documentary featuring previously unknown underwater behaviour, and a passionate and engaging scientist whose mission it is to unlock the secrets of the most devoted of all marine mothers – the Australian Sea Lion.

Electric Pictures Pty Ltd
Producers Andrew Ogilvie, Andrea Quesnelle
Director Stephen Oliver
Sales and Distribution ABC, BBC, BBC Worldwide, NRK
Synopsis The inside story of a remarkable television series starring a crime-fighting kangaroo who became the emblem of a nation for children the world over.

Dunheved Pty Ltd
Producers Dr Jonathan King, Bill Leimbach
Presenter/writer Dr Jonathan King
Director Bill Leimbach
Sales and Distribution Foxtel History Channel, Roadshow Entertainment
Synopsis ANZACS on the Western Front, battle by battle. To celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the end of WWI, this will be an Armistice Day tribute to the Australian soldiers who fought in the battles of the Western Front from Fromelles (July 1916) to Montbrehain (October 1918) and through to the Armistice. The film is based on the book by Jonathan King “Western Front Diaries - World War 1 Anzac stories battle by battle”(Simon Schusper October 2008).

International Documentaries

Electric Pictures
Executive Producers Andrew Ogilvie
Producers Andrew Ogilvie and Andrea Quesnelle  
Writers Simon Nasht and David McWilliams
Director Simon Nasht
Sales and Distribution ABC TV (Aust), RTE (Ireland), S4C (Wales) and ABC Sales (ROW)
Synopsis Everything you need to know about what caused the financial meltdown, what lies ahead, and what we all need to do to survive in the New Economy.

Gulliver Media Australia Pty Ltd
Producers Larry Zetlin and Chris Carroll          
Director/Writer Jeremy Hogarth 
Broadcasters ABC TV and National Geographic TV  
Sales National Geographic TV International
Synopsis The films follows the life story an individual female Loggerhead Turtle from when her mother lays the clutch of eggs, to when, thirty years later, she struggles ashore to lay her first clutch of eggs in the beach sands from which she hatched.

360 Degree Films
Producer Sally Ingleton 
Sales and Distribution ABC TV (Aust), Arte France, and NGTI (ROW)
Synopsis The Little Penguins of Phillip Island, Australia, are ‘A list’ celebrities.  Each year a half-a-million tourists come to watch their nightly parade - but it’s their private lives that are really interesting.  With the help of a dedicated team of scientists we lift the lid on a world where relationships are fraught, affairs commonplace, and danger lurks around every corner.

Artemis Internationa
Producers Brian Beaton
Director/Writer Max Walker      
Co Director Salam Ziusudras
Broadcasters SBS TV and Al Jazeera
Sales SBS Content Sales.
Synopsis Salam Zuizudras’ father’s remains were recently found in a mass grave in Iraq 26 years after he mysteriously disappeared.   Knowing nothing about his father – or what happened – Sam embarks on a mission from Australia to Iraq desperate for answers.   What he discovers is a world of underground politics, spies, friendship, betrayal and a box of super 8 footage that uncovers a past undoubtedly responsible for shaping Salam – and his life – to this very day.  

Domestic - One off

Vast Productions
Producer Joanna Buggy and Tim Slade           
Director Tim Slade
Broadcaster Foxtel
Synopsis The Sydney Dance Company has one year to secure its long term survival, to find a new leader and to create magic from a blank canvas.   From the award winning team that brought the documentary 4 to the screen.     

Umbrella Film Services Pty Ltd
Producers Tom Burstall and John Hipwell
Writer Simon Palomares
Key Writer/Director David Swann 
Broadcaster SBS
Synopsis Kill or Die is a humorous examination of a cross cultural mid-life crisis.   Simon Palomares of Wogs out of Work fame, must go back to Spain to care for his ailing cantankerous father, juggle his family commitments back in Australia, whilst struggling to find out where he truly belongs.   Is it Spain or Australia?   To find out he enters the bloody gladiatorial arena of Spanish stand up comedy and, not unlike a bullfight, he must kill or die trying.

Jotz Productions
Producer/Director Tom Zubrycki 
Sales and Distribution SBS TV
Synopsis A group of Islanders from the tiny pacific nation of Kiribati affected by severe climate change are imported as guest workers to rural Australia.

ScreenWorld Pty Limited
Executive Producer Sue Clothier
Director Marco Sinigalia
Sales and Distribution SBS TV and Sales SBS Content Sales                
Synopsis In 1964 a sensation swept through Australian lounge rooms leaving an indelible impression on the children of that generation.   That sensation was The Samurai, the first foreign language cult television series from Japan to be seen in Australia.

Domestic Series

ScreenWorld Pty Ltd
Executive Producer Sally Regan     
Series Producer TBC     
Director Ivan O’Mahoney
Broadcaster SBS TV and Sales SBS Content Sales
SynopsisLaw and Disorder is a three part series delving deep into the
murky world of government misconduct, crime, corruption and the ordinary
citizens who try to expose it all.

Becker Group
Executive Producer Allison Black
ProducerSally Regan
DirectorsIli Bare, Ivan Mahoney, Daniella Ortega
Sales and Distribution SBS TV, SBS Content Sales
Synopsis Are You My Mother? follows three Australians who are determined to get to the bottom of their trans-racial identity. They will share their emotional journey with us as they make their way through red tape, run-down orphanages and foster homes in Romania, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Becker Group
Executive Producer Sue Clothier
Producer Andrew Saw
DirectorJan Cattoni
Sales and Distribution ABC Television, Discovery UK, ABC Commercial
Synopsis Chopper Rescue is an observational documentary series that follows the lives of the EMQ helicopter rescue crews in Far North Queensland as they rescue people in remote locations over land and sea.

Essential Media and Entertainment
Executive Producer Chris Hilton
Series ProducerIan Collie
Producer Nial Fulton
DirectorsSteve Westh, Susan Lambert
Sales and Distribution ABC Television
Synopsis The Making of Modern Australia is a landmark cross-platform social history series that tells the big stories of post-war Australia through the family histories and personal archives of those that lived it – the people of Australia

Roar Film
ProducersKath Symmons, Stephen Thomas
DirectorVarcha Sidwell
Sales and Distribution ABC Television
Synopsis The Mission is a four-part documentary series about three young Nigerian priests who journey from equatorial Africa to Australia’s island state, Tasmania, as modern day missionaries.

Angels Television Pty Ltd
Producers Gregory Miller, Elizabeth Courtenay
Director Chester Dent
Sales and Distribution SBS TV, Ovation, SBS Content Sales
Synopsis Two rookie writer/producers from Sydney take on Broadway with a most unique show Angels – the Musical!

Freehand Productions Pty Ltd
Executive Producer Rick Spence
Series Producer/Directors Matt Scully, Chris Thorburn
Sales and Distribution ABC TV, BBC Worldwide
Synopsis Bush Slam brings together Australia’s top poets, songwriters and comedians in a performance best described as a poetry brawl.  Two poets, one town, capturing the heartbeat of the nation in verse.

Smart St Films Pty Ltd
Producers Frank Haines, Gai Steele
Series Director Haydn Keenan
Sales and Distribution TBC
Synopsis Four Australians show us through their ASIO files. Using evidence kept secret for more than thirty years, Persons of Interest is the story of ASIO and the people they spied on.

Essential Media & Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers Ian Collie, Chris Hilton
Directors Daniella Ortega
Sales and Distribution ABC TV
Synopsis Why do perfectly loveable children turn into grunting aliens overnight? Teenagers are in limbo. Not yet adults, but no longer children, they are caught up in a confusing world of intense and rapid change; to their bodies, their emotions and in their relationships with the rest of the world. The stakes are high: problems affecting teenagers are of enormous significance, with profound ramifications for their own future as well as the rest of society – but at last science has some answers to one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Special Documentary Fund

Storm Productions
Producer/Director Esben Storm
Synopsis AMERICA. Is it F……?  Esben Storm with the noted author Don Watson travels to present a portrait of America through the looking glass of the 2008 Presidential election.

Iris Pictures
Producer/Director Jessica Douglas-Henry
Synopsis Anna’s Adventure is a cross media project that follows Dr. Anna Donald’s
journey as she grapples with the big questions of existence in her daily
battle with cancer.

Princess Pictures
Producer Yael Bergman and Laura Waters
Director Jessica Leski
Synopsis How do you celebrate coming of age when you can never really grow up? A documentary following six teenagers with special needs as they prepare for high school's greatest rite of passage; 'The Debutante Ball'.

Circe Films
Producer Beth Frey
Director Polly Watkins
Synopsis Dr Ahmad Sarmast, an Afghan musician returns home to his country to re-open the only vocational music school in the hope of revitalizing Afghanistan's devastated music culture and giving war orphans the chance to realise their dreams and transform their lives.

Producer Tom Murray
Director Tom Murray and Madeleine Hetherton
Synopsis An experimental documentary on the big things in life - birth, love and death – and how 21st Century family and work arrangements are impacting on these profound life experiences.

Commissioned Production

Screen Australia in association with Hibiscus Films Pty Ltd, ABC Television, the NSW Film + Television Office and the Art Gallery of NSW
Bridget Ikin & Jo-anne McGowan
Writer/Presenter Hetti Perkins
Director Warwick Thornton
Executive Producer ABC Television Debbie Lee
Synopsis Art & Soul is a major 3 part series about contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Guided by the distinguished Aboriginal curator Hetti Perkins (eldest daughter of activist Charles Perkins; Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney), Art & Soul is a personal journey of discovery into a world of ideas and the imagination.

Screen Australia in association with Flaming Star Films & Film Victoria
Producers Marianne Latham and Lavinia Riachi
Director/Writer Mandy Chang
Executive Producer Flaming Star Films Sharyn Prentice
Synopsis After seventy years the thrill and glamour of the fabulous Ballets Russes is still as vibrant as ever, and in homage to their brilliance, The Australian Ballet is re-staging one of their greatest productions, "The Firebird". This is the behind-the-scenes story of that re-creation, an historical look at the Ballets Russes 1930's tours of Australia and a celebration of how this thrilling dance company changed our cultural landscape forever.

Screen Australia in association with Pemberton Films & December Films
Producer Tony Wright
Writer/Director Sonya Pemberton
Executive Producer Pemberton Films & December Films Sonya Pemberton & Tony Wright
Synopsis Sixteen cases of breast cancer in one workplace carry odds of one in a million. A team of Australian scientists are asking - could the cause be an infectious agent, such as a virus? Twenty per cent of all cancers are known to be the result of infections – could it be more? Catching Cancer sets off in global pursuit of infectious cancers, and reveals how finding a viral trigger is not a cause for panic; rather it’s a cause for hope.

Screen Australia Digital Learning in association with Australian National Maritime Museum and Ryebuck Media
Producer Tim Gurry
Writer Robert Lewis
Director Troy Mortier
Education Writer Robert Lewis
Synopsis 2009 is the 200th anniversary year of Charles Darwin’s birth and 150 years after the publication of his famous evolutionary theory on the Origin of Species, so join Charles Darwin aboard HMS Beagle on the voyage of a lifetime. Explore the world of Darwin and his colleagues and see how their work continues on new scientific frontiers.

Screen Australia in association with Mitra Films - part of the SBS Screen Australia Science Initiative.
Producer Anna Cater and Susan MacKinnon
Writer/Director Stefan Moore
Executive Producer Mitra Films Susan MacKinnon
Synopsis From the native bush and orchards of Australia to the industrial farmlands of America and the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Honeybee Blues is a scientific detective story that tells a 21st century cautionary tale. Will science be able to stop the devastating march of the destructor mite which is currently decimating honey bee populations around the world. At stake is the future of the environment, our food supply and life as we know it on planet earth.

Screen Australia in association with Renegade Films
Producer/Writer/Director Alex West
Synopsis Tony Robinson joins a team of Australian archaeologists and historians to help uncover bullet by bullet one of the most amazing stories in Australian history, Ned Kelly's last stand at Glenrowan. Along the way he uses the new scientific revelations they uncover, to assess whether Kelly was a revolutionary or simply a common criminal and to set the iconic story in its proper national and international context.

Screen Australia in association with Pericles Productions Pty Ltd
Executive Producer Mark Hamlyn
Producer and Co-Writer Andrew Wiseman
Director/Writer Don Featherstone
Sales and Distribution Screen Australia Promotions and Distribution
Synopsis This two-part series offers the first major re-evaluation of Australia’s most important military campaign after Gallipoli – the brutal battle for the Kokoda Track and the desperate campaign to keep New Guinea from falling to the Japanese during the darkest days of World War II.

Screen Australia
Executive Producer Penny Robins
Series Producer Hugh Piper
Series Director Matthew Thomason
Writers Hugh Piper, Matthew Thomason
Sales and Distribution Screen Australia Promotions and Distribution
Synopsis History buff, commentator and member of ABC-TV's Chaser team, Chris Taylor takes a revealing and upbeat look at some of the building blocks of the Australian identity as he works his way through the treasures on the Federal Government's National Heritage List. Canvassing objects and sites as varied as the Sydney Opera House through to Ned Kelly's armour, Chris shows how our environment and history have shaped today's Australia.

Screen Australia in association with Dreamstone Productions & GFN Productions
Executive Producer Catriona Hughes
Producer/Director/Writer Marc Radomsky
Sales and Distribution Screen Australia Promotions and Distribution
Synopsis  A one-hour documentary with Network Ten about a combined
Israeli-Palestinian Aussie Rules football team that will travel to Australia in September to compete in the 2008 AFL International Cup. But none of the players has ever played this Australian code of football before. Can these traditional enemies sideline decades of conflict to compete together against the world?

Disclaimer:  Screen Australia has undertaken all reasonable measures to ensure the accuracy of this information at time of publication. If you have any updates please contact [email protected]