We present a list of 10 Documentaries you cannot miss at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival that is taking place from October 11th – 16th in Australia.
Behemoth by Liang Zhao – China, France | 2015 – 90 min.
Behemoth is a biblical monster, the beast of an invincible country. Today, the beast could be seen as man himself, raping the earth to obtain its wealth. He is unaware that the destruction of the land is far from over. The beast eventually begins to devour itself. This film operates as a cinematic parable, training its focus on Chinese mines, with their giant machines, noise, dirt, destroyed nature, sick and dying miners. It leads to a newly built city, where nobody lives. The allegory relies on the power of images and words from Dante’s Divine Comedy, the inspiration for the filmmakers.
City 40 by Samira Goetschel – US | 2016 – 75 min.
It sounds like a dystopian sci-fi story: residents of a walled town enjoy a high standard of living in a chilling pact that sees them growing sicker by the day from radiation poisoning. Except it’s a reality, occurring in City 40 – a Russian town and home to a stockpile of nuclear materials. Closed to the outside world and guarded by armed security, the city is nigh invisible. Yet the film crew sneak in to reveal stories of courage – spearheaded by a single mother, some residents are risking their lives to draw attention to one of the most contaminated places on earth and the catastrophic risks it poses. JSS
Do not resist by Craig Atkinson – US | 2016 – 70 min.
‘Violence is the realm we operate in…We are men of violence.’ So says Dave Grossman, tactical trainer of police and FBI officers. In light of recent shocking events in Dallas and Baton Rouge, The Tribeca winner DO NOT RESIST is essential viewing for gaining insight into the rapid militarisation of police forces in the US. Director Craig Atkinson gains incredible access to police units and rides alongside as they train for and respond to real or imagined threats. Against a backdrop of burning cars and tear gasin Ferguson following the police killing of Michael Brown, this film traces the transformation of law enforcement agencies into forces that look like an army and all too often act like one. JSS
Servant or Slave by Steven McGregor – Australia | 2016 – 57 min.
During the time of the Stolen Generations, thousands of Aboriginal girls were taken from their families by the Australian Government. SERVANT OR SLAVE is an emotional and confronting insight into the history and legacy of the domestic servitude enforced upon Aboriginal girls in Australia, told through the storiesof five women. In bringing to light the heartbreaking experiences of Rita, Violet and the three Wenberg sisters, SERVANT OR SLAVE celebrates their fortitude in pursuing justice for the crimes committed against them. Theirs is a David and Goliath battle, waged not only for personal healing, but to shed light on a barely acknowledged part of modern Australia’s history whose consequences are still felt today. KV
Shadow World by Johan Grimonprez – US | 2016 – 94 min.
The global arms trade may be the murkiest, most inscrutable industry on the planet, with billions of dollars and human lives at stake. Based on a 2011 book by Andrew Feinstein, the film forensically examines some of the players – manufacturers, politicians, arms dealers and the shady go-betweens. Director Johan Grimonprez (DIAL H-I-S-T-O-R-Y) spares no one to expose a shadow world of corruption, slush funds, drones and a whole lot of lies and greed from before the early 80s to the present. Backed up by commentary from Feinstein, himself an arms dealer, hard-hitting journalists and a retired US army colonel, SHADOW WORLD grabs a hold of the many tentacles of this industry and tugs, hard. JSS
Starless Dreams by Mehrdad Oskouei – Iran | 2016 – 76 min.
In STARLESS DREAMS, acclaimed filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei takes us inside a girls’ juvenile detention facility on the outskirts of Tehran. The bonds the girls share are as tight as blood – some feel more at home here than they ever did with their families. Their crimes include drug dealing and murder, yet instead of cold-blooded criminals we discover friendly, young people who laugh, sing and cry together. With the conceptual rigour and emotional directness associated with the best of Iranian cinema, Oskouei presents an intimate and respectful portrait of these young women, offering a powerful indictment of social apathy. KV
The Age of Consequences by Jared P. Scott – US | 2016 – 85 min.
You might have seen a dozen climate change docs, but you certainly haven’t seen this one. Director Jared P. Scott (REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM, Antenna 2015) takes a new tack, no melting glaciers and species die-offs to be seen. Instead he places in the interviewee’s chair people generally positioned as a conservative policymaker’s dream – military planners, marine brigadier generals, Pentagon insiders and veterans who have served in warzones. These are the people who will be on the frontline when climate stimulated conflict hits – wars over scarce resources, mass migrations creating population tensions. Together, they build a terrifying picture of a series of global humanitarian catastrophes, and draw a direct and unassailable line between them and our voracious energy consumption. JSS
The Family by Rosie Jones – Australia | 2016 – 98 min.
THE FAMILY sheds light on one of Australia’s most notorious cults, in a powerful and moving film by Melbourne director Rosie Jones (THE TRIANGLE WARS, ANTENNA 2011). ‘The Family’ was a sinister apocalyptic cult active in Melbourne in the ‘60s and ’70s led by Anne Hamilton-Byrne; beautiful, charismatic and convinced she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. At least 28 children were ‘acquired’ and raised in total isolation, and subjected to yearsof abuse – including beatings, starvation and injections with LSD. THE FAMILY pulls back the cover on the murky story of a still-operating sect, revealing the scars the victims still carry to this day and asking difficult questions about how it was allowed to flourish in the first place. JSS
The Island and the whales by Mike Day – UK, Denmark | 2016 – 82 min.
The Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic cut an imposing landscape, as sheer cliffs soar majestically from the sea. The isolated community has hunted seabirds and whales for generations, but for how much longer? The global environmental crisis has reached even here – bird populations are plummeting and the whales are highly contaminated. A local doctor has a warning for his community and the world, yet his message risks being derailed – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society parachutes in with Pamela Anderson in tow, bringing a well-intentioned yet culturally imperialist critique of the locals’ way of life. With incredible cinematography, this film presents a complicated debate on traditions, stewardship and environmental catastrophe. JSS
When Two Worlds Collide by Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel
Peru, UK | 2016 – 103 min.
Tense and wholly immersive, this film take you directly into the line of fire between two, powerful Peruvian leaders over the future of the country. When president Alan Garcia attempts to extracts oil and minerals from untouched Amazonian land with the hopes of elevating his country’s economic prosperity, he is met with fierce, violent opposition led by indigenous leader Alberto Pizango. This film capture all angles of a conflict that quickly escalates from a heated war of words to one of deadly violence.