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Eleven documentaries to watch in June

From exploring the natural world to being immersed in contemporary conversations, what better way to travel into the second half of 2023 than by watching some (if not all) of these Screen Australia-funded documentaries releasing in June.

Narrated by acclaimed actress Laura Dern, The Endangered Generation? follows a new generation of scientists, artists and First Nations leaders who rise to confront the forces pushing us to the brink of collapse. The documentary challenges the myth that the world is fundamentally driven by selfishness and competition by exploring how kindness and cooperation may be just as crucial to prospering in the natural world - uncovering the connections that bind us all to life itself, and to one another. 

The Endangered Generation? is in cinemas now. Watch trailer

Comedian and architecture enthusiast Tim Ross travels the country in Designing a Legacy - visiting structures that reveal surprising ways to read Australian history and exploring our sense of identity in the architecture around us. Along the way, Ross uncovers how buildings can leave a legacy of respect, create community, forge common identity and offer visions for our future. 

Watch Designing a Legacy series 2 on ABC iview here.

Reefshot documents the incredible true story of a group of conservationists, scientists, Traditional Owners and everyday citizens who are working together in a race against time to protect one of Earth’s most important icons, the Great Barrier Reef, from the effects of climate change.

Watch Reefshot on Stan here

This ground-breaking, investigative film explores the impact humans are having on wild dolphins through hand feeding tourism programs in Australia. Dolphins: Is Our Love Too Deep? uncovers the tenuous balance between our all-consuming desire to get back to nature and the stark reality that our love for dolphins could be too deep.

Watch Dolphins: Is Our Love Too Deep? on ABC iview here

The remarkable story of an extraordinary man and an astonishing animal. Hobart resident Peter Walsh reveals the secretive life of a female platypus and the threats she faces trying to survive in the increasingly depleted habitat of Hobart’s urban waterways.

Watch The Platypus Guardian on ABC iview here.

A poignant documentary co-directed by and featuring Wiradjuri woman Brenda Matthews whose earliest memories are of growing up in a white foster family, until she was placed back with her biological family, leaving her feeling disconnected with both sides. This story follows Brenda on the journey to find her white family – and uncover the truth about her abduction.

The Last Daughter is in cinemas now. Watch trailer

The First Inventors investigates the innovations, complex knowledge systems and scientific discoveries of Australia’s First People, to reveal how the world’s oldest living culture has thrived in Australia for at least 50,000 years. Together with First Nations’ experts and scientists, actor Rob Collins examines ancient ingenuity and archaeological discoveries to bring scientific inventions of Australia’s First Nations people to the foreground. 

The First Inventors will be available to watch from 15 June on NITV and Network 10. Watch trailer

Click here to take a behind the scenes look at The First Inventors with Director Larissa Behrendt. 

The Cape is an intimate portrayal of an isolated community forever changed by tragedy. In the vast wilderness of Australia’s Cape York, fortune-hunters hide amongst the mangroves and the crocs, seeking to bend the ancient laws of nature to their will. When a ten-year-old boy and his father vanish while checking their shark nets, it unravels a dynastic alliance between mighty fishing clans. A mother and son are accused of murder and a love triangle gone horribly wrong raises questions of guilt and complicity that ripple out far beyond the alleged killers.

Watch The Cape on Stan from 18 June here

Using nanotechnology and global tracking from the International Space Station, Flyways follows migratory shorebirds, the world’s greatest endurance athletes as they travel the ancient flyways of our planet. Narrated by Mia Wasikowska, along the way we’ll meet the scientists, international lawyers and citizen scientists collaborating to save them.

Watch Flyways on ABC TV on 20 June. Watch trailer

The Defenders documents the story of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi and the global campaign that fought to free him from prison. It tells the gripping true story of how former Australian football captain Craig Foster and a ragtag team of social media warriors challenged two monarchies, a military junta and the world’s most powerful sporting body FIFA to rescue Hakeem.

Watch The Defenders from 23 June on Prime Video. Watch trailer

Award-winning actor and producer Anthony LaPaglia unravels an epic story of Italian organised crime gang – The Black Hand – which terrorised Italian Australians working around the cane fields of North Queensland in the 1930s. This documentary explores an Australian Italian community's struggle against hard times, extreme politics, looming war and the mafia in their midst.

The Black Hand will be available to watch from 27 June on ABC TV and ABC iview

Be sure to also check out some other great Screen Australia-funded titles like Asking for ItQueerstralia and John Farnham – Finding the Voice, which was recently named the highest grossing Australian feature-length Documentary of all time.