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New social change documentary projects we’re supporting

Nov212017

We are proud to support social change documentary films get made and seen, enabling them to have a positive social impact. This year we’ve approved over 70 new documentary projects for fiscal sponsorship, allowing filmmakers to accept philanthropic donations tax-effectively. In the last round of applications, we had 15 new social change documentaries approved and they have now kicked off their fundraising and impact campaigns.


A River Made Us

Interweaving interviews and archival footage with a modern-day pilgrimage down one of the world’s most famous white water rivers, A River Made Us illuminates a profound moment in Australian history when environmentalism entered the mainstream - the famous fight to stop the Franklin Dam.


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Colleen: Finding the shoe that fits

A moving new documentary about an 85 year old transgender woman, transitioning from male to female in the conservative coastal community of Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-north coast. Having lived most of her life as Colin – a husband, father, policeman, film-projectionist and self-declared shoe fetishist, Colleen has had to negotiate her gender transition later in life. More than a documentary about the transitioning of an elderly transgender woman: this is a story of two people whose love transcended their gender roles; a small community that comes together to support a woman in pursuit of her greatest dream; and how finding exactly the right pair of shoes can be a perfect fit. 

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I Am No Bird

An observational documentary that provides a snapshot of the lives of four very different women at the time of their weddings. Historically, marriage has had less to do with love and more to do with trade and the possession of women.  This film explores a diverse range of women, from politicised backgrounds. In an increasingly globalised world, where we are striving to understand one another, there is a need and desire for thoughtful reflection on our traditions and our similarities and differences.     

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Kiddy in the Middle

A compelling, independently produced documentary that brings into sharp focus the sensitive issues surrounding family separations. The film will remind us all that the welfare and happiness of children must come first, even when times are tough and for the Government to better support families during these most challenging times. This will better support future generations of Australians to have their own positive relationships, leading to fewer relationship breakdowns and many less complex social problems to unravel.

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Knots: A Forced Marriage Story

This documentary takes the idea of a fairytale chapter book, so often hinging on romance and ultimately marriage, and flips it on its head. Through a range of personal, captivating interviews, stylised animation, and a chapter-book structure, this dynamic documentary film will expose the truth about forced marriage in the western world, and explore the harrowing, complicated experience of those who have survived it.    

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Making It In Melbourne

Explores how a new generation of Africa-Australian artists and performers are altering Melbourne’s music and arts landscape - told through the eyes, voices and lives of three working artists. It’s a story of a hidden subculture within Melbourne and the extraordinary spirit of these artists and their determination not only to break through and make art for new audiences but to make a livelihood from that art. 

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Mortal

It is our fate to be a unique human being, have a name, prosper and progress, feel a deep inner yearning for life, and then die. This terrifies us because we feel immortal, and because we live in denial of death. We try to cheat fate through our heroic pursuits and our efforts to make something that endures, but underneath all appearances our fear of death is universally present. Mortal is an immersive concept film in the tradition of nonverbal films like Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi that explores how humans around the world ceremonialise mortality.

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Remaking The Pathway

When Yolngu Elder and Master Weaver and Painter, Batumbil Burarrwanga, journeys by foot over 60km of country, she speaks to the land and recalls stories passed down by her father. In doing so she revives her family's knowledge of the land and sea to protect the Yolŋu estates that encompass her homeland. Remaking the Pathway follows the Burarrwaŋa sisters as they speak to the land and breath in its wisdom and knowledge. It redefines our connection to the land, and reveals the powerful truth that everything is connected as gurrutu (family). The sisters pass on this knowledge to their family and balanda (non-indigenous) friends. This documentary will pass the same knowledge onto the audience; as Batumbil says “it is everyone’s story now”.  

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Shark-Proof Sea

Trying to ‘Shark-Proof’ the ocean for our safety is as misdirected and outdated as Australia’s once-famous Rabbit-Proof Fence. In order to reduce the devastating effects of shark fishing, finning, submerged nets and baited hooks, young activist Madi and passionate fellow underwater filmmaker Joe Romeiro will set out to show how a healthy ocean starts at the top of its ecosystem.  This film will turn shark fear into shark love so that others will demand for their protection.

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Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground is the story of a young man’s struggle with mental illness in his family following the suicide of his father and how his subsequent actions have inspired others. Fighting mental illness with a unique mix of martial arts and, more powerfully, the subtle art of conversation; Brendan is not saying that he has all the answers, but he is doing something.

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Striking Distance

A group of girls with only a year's worth of training in Martial Arts win three National Titles and an invitation to compete in Japan, where one of them took first place in an international competition against a Japanese boy.  When the girl's own school would not give recognition for these amazing achievements, and the local paper wouldn't even take a photo, instructor and documentary maker Rose Smith decided it was time to tell the story of the unique talents and incredible achievements of these young warriors.  Over the course of 18 months they filmed the progress of the girls as they compete in Australia's two biggest martial arts competitions, culminating in the National All Styles in Melbourne. Facing their fears, turning stereotypes on their heads and kicking some serious butt, these young women learned that the most important lesson is: facing what scares you makes you brave.  

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The Bamboo Bridge

Every dry season for over three decades a 1.5 kilometre bridge made completely of bamboo has been built across the Mekong River in Cambodia to join the rural community of Koh Paen to the city of Kampong Cham. Every year the bridge is destroyed as the rising waters and monsoon storms make the Mekong into a roaring torrent. This bamboo bridge is a testament to community and ecological resilience. It embodies the skills of generations of builders and community members and signals what it means to live with the rhythms of nature making a light footprint. In 2017 the bamboo bridge was built for the last time. A new permanent concrete bridge was built by the government with Chinese investment, bringing the benefits of regular and quick connection to markets, hospitals and facilities, but paving the way for property speculation and urban development of rural Koh Paen. The film follows three generations of bridge builders who tell stories of this unique sustainable infrastructure and the local economies and ecologies it sustained.

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The Return Home

Pete Andrews is a 63 year-old Greek Australian who was only three years old when his Ithacan born father died. In this film Pete, and renowned Jungian psychotherapist Dr O’Connor return to the island of Pete's ancestors to find out who his father was in order to discover his own true identity. Ithaca is also the home of ancient poet Homer’s mythical character Odysseus. For Dr O’Connor, Homer's 3,000 year-old epic poem enables us all to explore and understand the archetypal forces that move and shape our every day reality. It is a story that transcends time and culture and still speaks to us about the archetypal theme of return or nostos.  From Ithaca the two friends travel with Odysseus through the mythical and geographical landscape of Greece as he returns home like Pete to his authentic self.   

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The Women of Steel

A group of diverse Australian women embark on a challenge to show to the world that anything is possible.  Follow the incredible journey that takes these women from being novice triathletes to finishers in the toughest day in sport – an endurance distance triathlon.  The journey will be tough, each participant will visit those inner recesses that lie buried deep inside where courage and determination co‐exist with giving up and acceptance. Watch as they slowly transform, making those choices in moments that will reveal who they truly are and the path they will tread. This inaugural documentary creates a positive and powerful metaphor for change in the lives of people of all ages – an inspirational movement that allows us to touch lives, everywhere.

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Tiger On The Rocks

On a cave wall in Mok Clan country in far north Australia, a magnificent painting of the Tasmanian Tiger is the final resting place of an animal ancestor. But its story lives on all over the continent in rock art, footprints and fossil bones. Tiger On The Rocks goes in search of the traces. Thylacines survived through 25 million years of drastic ecological changes. Indigenous groups have long known the animal as a presence interlinked with the land and its people. In stunning landscapes where Thylacines once roamed, people from wide-ranging traditions share their experiences: Indigenous artists, rangers and custodians, biologists, bone hunters and archaeologists.  With creative use of landscapes, interviews, artworks, archives, and animation, Tiger On The Rocks takes the audience into the Thylacine’s world. Sheep-killing beast, or tragic victim of human-induced extinction. Ancient painting on a rock or vivid spirit ancestor. Lost forever, or a timely reminder to respect the connection between human and animal, culture, nature and country. Multiple insights coalesce to throw light on the Tiger’s still-living power.

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