Film Festival

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival – Films 2016


We take a look at the films presented at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.

The 1st Melbourne Documentary Film Festival will take place from Saturday 9th until Monday 11th July (2016) in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. All screenings will be presented at the Howler Art Space (7 – 11 Dawson Street, Brunswick). The festival will screen 18 full feature documentaries and 39 short documentaries.

Full Feature Documentaries

A Billion Lives2

A Billion Lives by Aaron Biebert – US | 2016 – 92 min.

The United Nations’ World Health Organisation expects a billion people will die prematurely from smoking this century. The products their doctors recommend are rarely effective and many are trapped. A new vapour technology was invented to give smokers a successful way to quit. But it was quickly demonised, and even banned in many countries.

A perfect storm is brewing between smokers trying to quit, government regulators, and health charities funded by the powerful pharmaceutical industry. Director Aaron Biebert travelled across four continents interviewing doctors, scientists, and others working to save a billion lives. What he found was profound government failure, widespread corruption in the public health community and powerful subversion by big business.

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A Room Full of Spoons by Rick Harper – Canada | 2016 – 90 min.

Referred to as “The Citizen Kane of bad movies” by Entertainment Weekly, The Room grossed only $1800 during it’s initial box office run. Against all odds, Mr. Wiseau’s disastrous film found a new life on the midnight movie circuit and now plays to audiences around the world making it one of the most adored and important films in popular culture.

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Andre Villers

Andre Villers – A Lifetime in Images by Marketa Tomanova – Czech Republic | 2015 – 70 min.

1946. World War II has ended but young André Villers is dying of bone tuberculosis. Doctors at the sanatorium in the South of France will save his life in extremis but André will have to spend the next five years in a whole body cast, from head to toes, unable to move. At 21, he learns how to walk again. And discovers life again. He takes interest in photography and soon he makes an encounter that will change his life. He meets Pablo Picasso who works in the same village of Vallauris. André befriends Picasso who will become his mentor. Picasso allows the young photographer to take pictures at work, something he has never allowed to anyone before. Thanks to Picasso, André will meet and photograph other great artists of the 20th century like Chagall, Dali, Miró, Léger, Buñuel, Fellini, Brassaï, Le Corbusier, Cocteau, Prévert, Gainsbourg, Aznavour and many others. Throughout his life, André Villers kept a low profile, even if his crisp Black&White portraits are known worldwide. One of the last great photographer and artist whose work finally deserves to be recognized.

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Beep by Karen Collins – Canada | 51 min.

From Sound Chips to the Symphony! No longer just the “ugly stepchild” of the games industry, Beep traces the history of game sound from the Victorian penny arcades through pinball and to today’s massive industry of soundtracks and live music. With clips from over 80 interviews with game composers, sound designers, voice actors and audio directors from around the world, Beep is the definitive documentary on game sound.

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Boudewijn De Groot

Boudewijn De Groot – Come Closer by Suzanne Raes – Netherlands | 90 min.

Over the past fifty years, Boudewijn de Groot has written and sung countless songs and turned out hits that are etched in the dutch national consciousness. His work is part of Dutch cultural heritage. And yet: Boudewijn de Groot himself remains a mystery.

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Bullied to death

Bullied to Death by Jo Coda – Italy | 70 min.

Bullied to Death depicts a 24 hour performance against homophobia through the real stories of teenagers worldwide that experience severe bullying episodes at school, from their own families and on the web, as a result of their coming out about their sexuality.

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Churchroad – Weg van de Kerk by Robin Vogel – Netherlands | 54 min.

Club church is a subculture within Amsterdam nightlife. This cruise club offering freedom, unprecedented sex and apparent absence of judgement has the film director constantly pushing his own personal boundaries, bringing out a side of him he didn’t know existed.

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Coffee MAn

Coffee Man by Jeff Hann – Australia | 2015 – 70 min.

THE COFFEE MAN is an intensely personal, observational documentary that will have you biting your nails, standing up and cheering; and wishing that you, too, could experience Sasa’s Holy Grail: the perfect cup of coffee.

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Death by Design

Death by Design by Sue Williams – US | 63 min.

Consumers love — and live on — their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. A cascade of new devices pours endlessly into the market, promising to be smaller, faster, and more powerful than ever before. The numbers are staggering: by 2020, five billion people will own a mobile phone.

But this global revolution has a hidden dark side. DEATH BY DESIGN explores how even the tiniest devices have deadly environmental and health costs. From skyrocketing electronics manufacturing in Chinese cities, to high tech innovation and Superfund sites in Silicon Valley, the film investigates environmental degradation, health crises, and the fast-approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

DEATH BY DESIGN tells the stories of factory workers laboring in unsafe conditions in China, American families suffering the tragic consequences of the industry’s dangerous practices, activists leading the charge to raise awareness and hold brands accountable, and entrepreneurs and scholars who are developing more sustainable products and practices to help safeguard our planet and our future.

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Four Horsemen by Peter Davis – Australia | 90min.

Featuring interviews with the Ashton family, polo historians and past greats of the game, never before seen archival footage and reenactments shot on location in England, USA, and Australia, the Four Horsemen is a celebration of a great Australian story.

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Good Night Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio by Matthew Conboy – US | 83 min.

Goodnight Brooklyn ­- The Story of Death By Audio brings viewers inside the last underground venue for music and art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood once defined by its cultural contributions to the city of New York. The feature length film chronicles the origins, community­-building, influence and ultimate closure of one of Brooklyn’s best DIY venues, ironically at the hands of a former champion of their efforts.

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Inside Fighter

Inside Fighter by Nick Barkla – Australia | 51 min.

An underdog Melbourne boxer, Frank ‘The Italian Stallion’ Lo Porto, gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight for the world title in America against an undefeated superstar.

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Mad Tiger by Michael Haertlein and Jonathan Yi – Japan | 82 min.

Yellow and Red have been best friends, band mates, and business partners touring the United States in a performance-art punk band called Peelander-Z for the last fifteen years. When Red decides to quit, their relationship is tested by life beyond the band.

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PLastic in my water

Plastic in my Water by Allard Faas – Netherlands | 84 min.

During a boat ride on the Amsterdam canals film maker Allard Faas’ 3 year old daughter asks if it is wrong of a bird to make its nest out of plastic. Bakelite, Nylon, the PET bottle, plastic once seemed a blessing. In this film Faas researches why plastic has turned into a problem we can’t control.

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Playing Lecuona

Playing Lecuona by Pavel Giroud – Spain | 105 min.

A journey through the work and living spaces of pianist and composer Ernesto Lecuona, considered the most universal of Latin America pianists.

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Spoke by Emily Baker – Australia | 72 min.

Three young commuter cyclists set out to bike from San Francisco to Orlando, interviewing crash victims, urban planners, activists and law enforcement to investigate what makes the U.S the most dangerous developed country for cyclists. Shot on location, the trio travel to each interview by bicycle, with cameras, tripods and microphones strapped to their front-racks. Carrying the stories of fellow cyclists killed on American roads, SPOKE is an adventure-tale that looks to empower users of the humble bicycle.


Sustainable by Matt Wechsler – US | 95 min.

America is facing a food crisis driven by profitability and a lack of consumer education. While the window to transforming our heartland continues to shrink, passionate individuals have emerged who provide hope that the health of our nation might still remain within our grasp. Sustainable is a documentary film that weaves together expert analysis of America’s food system with a powerful narrative of one extraordinary farmer who is determined to create a sustainable future for his community. In a region dominated by commodity crops, Marty Travis has managed to maintain a farming model that is both economically viable and environmentally safe. Through his example and various expert interviews, the film will explore options for reversing the issues facing America’s heartland.

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Todd Who? by Gavin Bond | Australia | 48 min.

“Todd Who?” is a unique rockumentary that explores a fan’s 30 year obsession and devotion to underappreciated rock musician and technological pioneer Todd Rundgren.

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Short Documentaries
Session 1
At Midnight by Amber Mcbride – Australia | 11min.
Freedom. Love. Choose one. Maria escaped from Communist Hungary seeking creative freedom, but her husband could not tear himself away from his successful film-making career to go with her. As she attempted to build a new life in Australia, he made a feature film about her escape. His film was revolutionary for its time and wildly successful. 57 years later, this film tells her version of the story.

Brooms by Mark Hellinger – Australia | 5 min.
A group of misfits bond playing Quidditch, the fictional game created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter books. The team is pushed hard by their coach in the quest for victory.

Dan Bau Lullaby by Jakeb Anhvu – Australia | 9 min.
Nguyen Thanh Tung is a respected dan bau (monochord) player from Hanoi, Vietnam. Both he and his sister were born with disabilities resulting from their father’s exposure to a toxin known as Agent Orange.

Dream of Freedom (Freedom Stories – Mohsen) by Steve Thomas – Australia | 22 min.
Locked up in immigration detention in Australia for 4 years after fleeing Iran, Mohsen Zand voiced his desperation by writing poetry. Now an Australian citizen, he asks documentary maker Steve Thomas to help turn his first poem into a video clip called Dream of Freedom.

Driven by Stefan Bugryn – Australia | 15 min.
In 2015, Scott Goble and Mollie Stewart-Gibson prepared themselves for the biggest competition in Australian bodybuilding history, the inaugural Australian Arnold Classic.

LaValla by Dayna Yates – Australia | 7 min.
Lives is a documentary centred on Srey, a student who attends LaValla Primary School in Cambodia, the only government recognised school for children with a disability. This documentary explores Srey’s life at the school, and what it means to her to be able to study at a school where disabilities have no limits.

Painting the Landscape by Zac Hodgkinson – Australia | 4 min.
Filmed over 10 months, follows an artist’s progress working from the suburban landscape of Melbourne to create a painting

Road to the Grand Final by Mark Hellinger – Australia | 5 min.
An intellectually disabled Australian Rules football team gets a shot at glory in the Grand Final.

The Drover’s Boy by Margaret Mchugh – Australia | 10min.
The Drover’s Boy is a hybrid-documentary based on a ballad by Australian bush legend, Ted Egan. It retells the story of a forbidden love between a white Drover and his Aboriginal wife in the 1920’s outback Australia.

The Outliers by Carmen Holden – Australia | 11 min.
The Old Ballan Cemetery is not your usual cemetery. The people buried here have fallen through the cracks of society. They have left this world with no family or friends to put them to rest, leaving it up to strangers to give them the goodbye everyone deserves. ‘The Outliers’ reveals a pocket of the funeral industry that many have not often thought about – what happens to those that pass with no family or friends to bury them?

Session 2
Building One by Bertie Plaatsman – New Zealand | 27 min.
Filmed inside this landmark building, also known as Oakley or Carrington Hospital, former staff and patients, along with current staff and students, share their moving and at times humorous experiences of working and living in Building One. Rarely seen historical images support their stories.

Chasing Canguro by Alex Luther – Australia | 10 min.
Chasing Canguro follows Alex Luther as he retraces the remarkable life of his late grandfather, Harry Luther, the Australian marathon water-skier who rose to fame during the golden age of the sport in the 1970s. Harry eventually went on to win the title of World Champion and set a World record that remains unbroken to this day

Home by Liam Burke – Australia | 11 min.
A portrait of Melbourne’s ageing Irish community as they embrace social media to narrow the distance between Australia and Ireland.

Island Odyssey by Patrick Cooper – Australia | 8 min.
An exploration of the landscapes and wildlife of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The film takes viewers on a journey through inland, coastal and underwater wilderness areas to observe the island’s natural wonders

Kooyong by John Smithers – Australia | 4 min.
An examination into contemporary issues to do with Melbourne Trams.

Lolly by Anthony Dillon – Australia | 4 min.
84 year old Lolly is a fixture on Melbourne’s busking scene. I have played the violin for 76 years… except for 3 years when I played machine gun in the Russian Army”

Skin and Bone by Ben Crocker – Australia | 8 min.
“Skin and Bone” is a short documentary film which follows the story of someone who has successfully achieved their weight loss dreams through bariatric surgery, but who is still unhappy with what they see in the mirror.

Synchronicities by Samuel Hutchinson – Australia | 8 min.
Synchronicities is a short documentary that takes us into the life of Peter Maxwell Slattery, a 31 year old UFO contactee and experiencer from Melbourne, Australia. Peter doesn’t believe in aliens, he knows they exist. Is Peter a bit crazy? Or at the core of it, is there something profoundly loving in the message he is trying to get out into the world?

The Great Forest by Marli Lopez-Hope – Australia | 13 min.
An ancient Australian forest invites us into her rapidly changing world, where rare life is discovered and inevitable death unfolds.

Vacant by Elle Marsh – Australia | 4 min.
A car park so great it should have its own postcode. This film explores the beauty & emptiness of Australia’s largest car park.

Session 3
A Faithless Faith by Reza Safa – US | 31 min.
The 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini changed every aspect of the Iranian society, turning Iran into a pure Islamic state. In 1988 the Iranian government began a campaign against the Christian faith.

Abdullah by Cecilia Rumore – Australia | 5 min.
An Afghani asylum seeker’s journey to Australia.

Delos by Thalia Kalafata – Greece | 25 min.
The sun sheds light on a new world, still malleable, not yet having reached its definite form. Through the waves there drifts a rock, floating along, without identity, nameless. Undeclared (a-delos). No shadow falls upon the ground, because the rock moves with the sun.

Georgina by Sandra Veneklaas – Australia | 11 min.
Georgina took up stripping to change people’s lives by connecting with individuals and sharing her message with them

Little Ray of Hope by Mark Jones – Australia | 10 min.
The Ocean as seen through the eyes of one person, shared to increase a greater awareness of some of the marine life found there, and the fragility of it and the ocean.

Lucha Azteca by Caio D´Andrea – Mexico | 17 min.
Emperador Azteca is a luchador that found his calling in Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) ever since he was kid. Now Azteca finally has an opportunity to debut in one of the most important Arenas.

Melbourne Guide to living by Sam Gould and Chloe Christodoulou – UK | 15 min.
Melbourne, Australia. One of the oldest cities on earth. This guide to the city takes you around Australia’s capital of culture, explaining its history, people, and idiosyncrasies.

Oito zero oito by Alexandre Mello – Brazil | 5 min.
After losing his father and his brother in a car accident, Elon Constantino realized that life required him to decide his own way. As a teenager, Elon tries to follow his first passion, football, getting to play in a great team of Brazil.

Wainscot by Blair Mcmillain – Australia | 9 min.
Short documentary focusing on a LARPing collective based out of Melbourne, and some of its members.

Other Short Films screened with Full Feature Length Documentaries
Batak by Mochamad Andri Zainul – Indonesia | 40 min.
This film was an attempt to trace the origin of the Batak culture and civilization that will take you closer to encounter the Batak, where the cultural values becoming their identity.

Closure by Joshua Marks – Australia | 3 min.
I n Colombia a generation ago, Natalie was married to a violent gangster. Now for the first time, she tells her story publicly. Re-enacting her mother’s story is Kathleen, who is on her own mission to discover the truth about the father she never met.

Coalsville Gold by Ross Bolidani – UK | 29 min.
Once a hardened criminal, Stevie Gold finds redemption and celebrity status through bare knuckle boxing, but when he breaks his hand, loses the love of his life, and is challenged to a rematch against a far more experienced boxer, he has only his family and himself to lead him to victory.

MOS by Scott Brown – Canada | 18 min.
The search is on for Enzo Ball, the recreant Mime whose 2012 disappearance is believed to be linked to his controversial hobby.

Roarhouse by Marjetka McMahon-Krizanic – Australia | 22 min.
Where’s our sense of collective spirit? Roarhouse, Melbourne’s notorious, multi-faceted not-for-profit arts platform, stands on trial for changing people’s lives.

Someone I am Trying to Forget by Steve Thomas – Australia | 13 min.
A qualified doctor from Iraq, Aamer Sultan spent 2½ years in the Villawood detention centre in Sydney, where he conducted undercover research into the effects of indefinite detention on his fellow asylum seekers.

Transgendered of Thousands by Mochamad Andri Zainul – Indonesia | 3 min.
A short bittersweet story about Mutia and Fitri, two among many transvestites who live in Banjarmasin, a city located in Borneo island Indonesia. The story tells how Mutia and Fitri as transgender can be well accepted by family and community.

Vines of Souls by Craig Williams – Australia | 12 min.
In early 2015 I traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to discover the depths of human consciousness.

Viva La Vincent by Jasmin Leivers – Australia | 10 min.
– A record-breaking attempt to gather as many people with the same name in the same place at the same time – Vincent’s in the CITY OF VINCENT (located in Western Australia).

Waterlilies by Tanya Doyle – Ireland | 16 min.
I n their 60s, seven unlikely sages Kay, May, Nuala, Kathleen, Carol, Ann and Brigid have decided to learn how to swim. Taking themselves out of their comfort zone, they reveal what it is that drives them to keep striving for more, for survival, understanding, belonging and for purpose.

Saturday 9th July
12:00 pm – Short Documentaries (Session 1)
2:30 pm – Short Documentaries (Session 2)
4:30 pm – Four Horsemen + Closure
6:00 pm – Coffee Man + Someone I am Trying to Forget
7:30 pm – Spoke + Viva La Vincent
9:00 pm – Inside Fighter + Coalsville Gold
10:00 pm – A Room Full of Spoons + MOS

Sunday 10th July
12:00 pm – Sustainable
1:30 pm – Plastic in my water
3:00 pm – Death by Design
4:30 pm – Andre Villers + Waterlilies
6:00 pm – Beep
7:30 pm – Bullied to Death + Transgendered of Thousands
9:00 pm – A Billion Lives + Vines of Souls
10:30 pm – Churchroad + Roarhouse

Monday 11th July
12:00 pm – Short Documentaries (Session 3)
2:30 pm – Playing Lecuona
4:00 pm – Boudewijn De Groot – Come Close
5:30 pm – Mad Tiger
7:00 pm – Good Night Brooklyn – The Story of Death by Audio
8:30 pm – Todd Who? + You Better Take Cover + AWARDS PRESENTATIOn
10:00 pm – A Room Full of Spoons + Batak

You can download the MDFF Guide made by AsianFilmFestivals HERE


For more information please visit the official website of the festival here: Melbourne Documentary Film.

Tickets on sale via MOSHTIX

AFF would like to remember the readers that the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is part of our partnership program (See all partners). We want to thank them for their support and wish you guys have a great edition.

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