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Documentary Producer Program supports 11 diverse projects

A diverse array of 11 documentaries tackling everything from the challenges of Year 12, to the murder case of child beauty queen are set to receive funding as part of Screen Australia’s Documentary Producer Program.

This round includes six feature film documentaries, two iview premieres, and three television docos, proving the innovative and wide array of ways Australian producers are connecting these unique stories to audiences.

“Not only are we supporting a record number of documentaries for the Producer Program with this round, but we are hitting every platform, from online to television to features,” Screen Australia Chief Operating Officer Fiona Cameron says.

“These documentaries present a fascinating array of stories, told from established as well as emerging filmmakers.”

Casting JonBenet, about the unsolved death of the six-year-old beauty queen, is the second feature film from emerging director Kitty Green. Green’s first feature premiered at Venice Film Festival and her most recent work won Best Documentary Short at Sundance Film Festival. Green is producing, along with Scott Macaulay.

Another true-crime flavoured doc is the feature length Ghosthunter. From first-time director Ben Lawrence, producer Rebecca Bennett and executive producer Margie Bryant, it follows the story of a man whose life-long search for an absent father leads to an horrific revelation.

Equally terrifying, but in an entirely different way, is what the final year of high-school presents for young Australians. Produced by Karla Burt and executive produced by Laura Waters, Year 12 Diaries tells the true story of that intense journey, through the kids living it.

Meanwhile Spookers isn’t as scary as it sounds. Australian production company Madman (That Sugar Film) have teamed up with New Zealand filmmaker Florian Habicht for this tale about a close-knit farming family who open the most successful scare park in the Southern Hemisphere.

Making its premiere online is 10-part documentary web series No Strings Attached, where producers Lisa Kovacevic and Emma Watts tackle the topic of trying to connect in the 21st century through a cast of puppets, who re-enact stories of dating app users.

Moving from social phenomena to social impact, Blue tells the story of our changing oceans and the crisis looming beneath the waves from director Karina Holden and producer Electra Manikakis of Northern Pictures.

The arts also feature heavily, from Ella’s Journey, which follows Ella Havelka, the first Indigenous dancer accepted into the Australia ballet, to multiplatform project Slam TV – a series about slam poetry, which is set to premiere on iview.

Meanwhile An Australian Nightmare presents a kind of Shakespearean film-within-a-film as producer/writer/director Gary Doust follows the journey of actor/filmmaker Craig Anderson making his first really low budget horror film with his own life savings. And arts-inspired docos with a biographical edge include Gurrumul - Elcho Dreaming, about the celebrated Indigenous musician, and a television documentary about visionary architect Harry Seidler titled Seidler – Brutal or Beautiful.

“This round of documentaries delivers a bit of everything, from chilling true crime, to spooky fun, to important issues impacting Australians now and in the future,” Ms Cameron said.

The Producer Program was established to act as a foundation by which innovative documentaries with a strong vision would be able to secure further deals, as the distribution landscape continues to evolve and financing becomes increasingly fragmented.

Screen Australia’s Documentary Production team will accept online applications for the next round of Producer Program funding through the new Application Portal by 22 January 2016.

Click here for further information about the latest projects to receive funding in December.