Melbourne Documentary Film Festival 2017

We present the official selection for the 2nd Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF) that will take place from July 9th – 16th, 2017 in Melbourne Australia.

We are very happy to announce that this year 24 long documentaries will be screen at the 2nd MDFF. The catalogue shows a great variety of themes and problematics from across the world.

Festival Trailer


Long Documentaries

Act of Kindness by Sven Pannell and Costa Botes – New Zealand | 2015 – 81 min.

Young New Zealander goes on the search for the Rwanadan Samaritan who helped him through a dangerous predicament a decade ago in this documentary co-directed by Costa Botes (The Last Dogs of Winter).

“In 1999, Sven Pannell, a Kiwi traveler in Africa, escaped from a perilous run-in with Rwandan soldiers, bargaining for his life with a wad of cash he had hidden in his boot. Broke and without any place to stay, Pannell came across a crippled, homeless samaritan named Johnson, who fed and sheltered him until he was able to flee the region. He left in such a hurry he never got the chance to thank him.

“A decade later, Pannell returned to Rwanda with the hope of doing just that. Armed with a camera and a surfeit of optimistic pluck, he launches a dogged hunt for the man who generously came to his aid all those years ago – plastering up flyers, searching through registries, even broadcasting his compelling testimony to millions via Rwandan radio.” (New Zealand International Film Festival)



Art Bastard by Victor Kanefsky – USA | 2016 – 82 min.

What is art and how does it relate to society? Is its value determined by its popularity or originality? Is the goal profit or expressing one’s personal vision? These are some of the questions raised as we follow fiercely independent New York artist Robert Cenedella in his artistic journey through decades of struggling for creative expression. A student, protégé and friend of German artist George Grosz, Cenedella is now passing on the legacy of Grosz’s approach to art, in the very same room where Grosz taught. In portraying Cenedella’s determination to buck the system of what’s popular while critiquing that popularity in his attempt to turn the art world upside down, ART BASTARD is a funny, touching, and insightful look inside the maverick mind of a true original.



China’s 3 Dream by Nick Torrens – Australia, China | 2014 – 87 min.

‘In the 1970s we had only 3 dreams: a watch, a wireless and a bicycle.’ A parable of China in the twenty-first century: eleven years inside the dilemmas and dreams of its people.



Complicit by Heather White – China, USA, Hong Kong | 2017 – 89 min.

The documentary follows the intimate journey of Chinese migrant worker Yi Yeting, a benzene-poisoned victim-turned-activist who takes on the global electronic industry. While struggling to survive his own work-induced leukemia, he brings his fight against benzene from his hospital room where he helps other workers, to Silicon Valley and the international stage. Yi’s efforts along with the support of others, ultimately contributes to Apple banning two of the most toxic chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in its final assembly. Against huge odds Yi directly confronts corporate and government interests, while empowering and inspiring the people around him. His wife Liu Huihui, a stay-at-home mom, goes undercover to investigate an Apple supplier. Xiao Ya, an teenager rural migrant, who arrives in the city with hopes and dreams of a working “paradise” that she’s imagined since she was a kid. Tragically she gets poisoned on her first job by n-hexane, a solvent she used in polishing iPhone screens, at a hidden Apple subcontractor. Inspired by Yi, she starts to help other sick workers. Ming Kunpeng, another benzene-poisoned protagonist we meet through Yi, can’t bear the burden his illness places on his family, and commits suicide. Shot under the radar and with incredible access, the film explores global brands’ social responsibly and consumers’ role, while offering an in-depth look into love, family, Chinese culture, and the people sacrificing everything to make a difference.



Constance on the Edge by Belinda Mason – Australia | 2016 – 80 min.

One family. Two wars. Three countries. What does it take to forge a new life far from home? Filmed over 10 years, Constance on the Edge is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of one refugee family’s resettlement story in Australia.



Eeya De Kinderen van Juf Kiet (Miss Kiet’s Children) by Peter Lataster, Petra Lataster-Czisch
Netherlands | 2016 – 115 min.

Immigrant children have to find their way in a new classroom, with a new teacher and a language they don’t understand. An ode to the teacher every child deserves.



Ella Brennan: Commanding the table by Leslie Iwerks – USA | 2016 – 96 min.

Today, the world knows restaurateur Ella Brennan as the matriarch of a Creole-flavored dining dynasty dating back over half a century. She has become a household name in the restaurant business with the success of New Orleans establishment Commander’s Palace.



Five Days on Lesvos by Richard Wyllie – UK | 2016 – 62 min.

In 2015, over 1 million refugees fled to Europe by sea. Half of them came through the Greek tourist Island of Lesvos. This documentary film follows refugees and volunteers struggling to cope during the five days that proved to be a tipping point for the refugee crisis, not just on the island, but across the whole European continent.



Girl Power by Jan Zajicek Sany – Czech Republic | 2016 – 92 min.

Girl Power is an international graffiti documentary about women who devoted their lives to street art or graffiti. The movie will come with a different view on this current phenomenon that is often understood as vandalism by the wide audience. The film will point to the fact that graffiti community is not formed by only men, but that women have their own specific place in it. Girl Power documentary is for people who are interested in art, sociology, psychology or gender topics, but also for ordinary viewers who will definitely take interest in this not yet documented topic.



Generation Start Up by Cheryl Miller Houser, Cynthia Wade – USA | 2016 – 93 min.

Generation Startup takes us to the front lines of entrepreneurship in America, capturing the struggles and triumphs of six recent college graduates who put everything on the line to build startups in Detroit. Shot over 17 months, it’s an honest, in-the-trenches look at what it takes to launch a startup. Directed by Academy Award winner Cynthia Wade and award-winning filmmaker Cheryl Miller Houser, the film celebrates risk-taking, urban revitalization, and diversity while delivering a vital call-to-action-with entrepreneurship at a record low, the country’s economic future is at stake.



God Knows Where I Am by Todd Wider, Jedd Wilder – USA | 2016 – 97 min.

The body of a homeless woman is found in an abandoned New Hampshire farmhouse. Beside the body, lies a diary that documents a journey of starvation and the loss of sanity, but told with poignance, beauty, humor, and spirituality. For nearly four months, Linda Bishop survived on apples and rain water, waiting for God to save her, during one of the coldest winters on record. As her story unfolds from different perspectives, including her own, we learn about our systemic failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves.



Jewel’s Catch One by C. Fitz – USA | 2016 – 90 min.

With 4 strikes against her (black, female, poor and a lesbian), our trailblazer , Jewel Thais-Williams, helped changed laws, save lives and influence communities across Los Angeles, California as she opened her legendary nightclub’s door for 42 years.



Lunar Orbit by Patrick Buchanan – Canada | 2016 – 70 min.

Lunar Orbit takes us into the Ultraworld of the pioneers of ambient house music. Patrick Buchanan’s feature documentary explores The Orb’s unique creative process and delves into the story behind the music, revealing the history of The Orb’s origins and the foundation of the friendships which anchor the mothership.

A blend of unprecedented studio access from the duo’s Moonbuilding 2703AD recording sessions in Berlin, live concert footage, rare unseen archive material and interviews with key creative players; Youth, Guy Pratt, Mixmaster Morris, Matt Black, and many other current and former members of the Orb’s extended family result in a film that is truly Orbriginal.



Meal Tickets by Mat de Koning – Australia, USA | 2016 – 93 min.

A documentary filmed over 10 years, Meal Tickets is a cautionary tale of life in the world of modern day rock ‘n’ roll, and its realities vs its aspirations. Director Mat de Koning captures the rollercoaster journey of a young Perth band, the Screwtop Detonators, their manager Dave Kavanagh (an ex-mentor to The Libertines) and their one-time roadie, Will Stoker. Initially ambitious and eager for fame and fortune, their aspirations change over time as they discover the depth of the struggle and sacrifice required to make it in the music industry. It’s not just sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, it’s growing up, masculinity, mateship, relationships and finding your place in the world.



Migrant Dreams by Min Sook Lee – Canada | 2016 – 88 min.

A powerful feature documentary by multiple award-winning director Min Sook Lee (El Contrato, Hogtown, Tiger Spirit) and Emmy award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson (Herman’s House), tells the undertold story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers. Under the rules of Canada’s migrant labour program, low wage migrants are tied to one employer.



Northern Disco Lights by Ben Davis – UK | 2016 – 74 min.

Northern Disco Lights tells the untold story of a group of teenagers in the arctic city of Tromsø, who set off a chain of events that would go on to transform their country. To escape the boredom they created their own music scene.



One Heart / One Spirit by John Pritchard – Australia, USA| 2016 – 60 min.

An Aboriginal Australian and Native American documentary narrated by award-winning actor Jack Thompson, One Heart-One Spirit tells the story of Kenneth Little Hawk, an elder Micmac/Mohawk performing artist, meeting the oldest surviving culture on the planet: the 40,000 year old Yolngu nation located in northern Australia. At the three day, annual Garma Festival, Little Hawk learns that he has much in common with the Yolngu who believe that the Earth is our mother and we are all connected as one human family. “Many of us have forgotten about being humane, and that’s what ONE HEART – ONE SPIRIT is working at to bring the humanity back to each and every one of our behaviors, here and all around the world.” – Kenneth Little Hawk


One Big Home by Thomas Bena – USA | 2016 – 88 min.

Trophy homes threaten Martha’s Vineyard. When he feels he is complicit in wrecking the place he calls home, one carpenter takes off his tool belt and picks up a camera. Bumping up against angry homeowners and builders who look the other way, he works with his community and attempts to pass a new bylaw that limits house size.



Placebo: Alt.Russia by Charlie Targett-Adams – UK | 2016 – 67 min.

Fifteen years after they first played in Russia, British band Placebo tour there again. To keep things interesting they seek out like-minded alternative musicians, artists, designers and performance artists along the way. A disturbing look behind the scenes of a heavily controlled society.



Play Your Gender by Stephanie Clattenburg – Canada, USA | 2016 – 80 min.

Juno Award-winning musician Kinnie Starr is on a quest to find out why only 5% of music producers are women even though many of the most bankable pop stars are female. What does it take for a woman to make it in music?



The Bentley Effect by Brendan Shoebridge – Australia | 2016 – 75 min.

When the Northern Rivers of NSW community found their home being threatened by gas field industrialization, a critical mass of citizens from all walks of life responded to the call. Their deep love of the land led to a massive social movement and a historic showdown in Bentley, outside Lismore NSW. What happened in this once peaceful valley has now become the stuff of legend and is reverberating around the globe. Told through the eyes of the “Protectors” over a five-year period and inter-cut with fresh insight from some of the world’s leading social commentators, this feature documentary captures and celebrates what is described as the non-violent ‘Eureka Stockade’ of our time.



The Cinema Travellers by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madhesiya – India | 2016 – 96 min.

Cannes prize-winning The Cinema Travellers is a journey with the traveling cinemas of India, which bring the wonder of the movies to faraway villages annually. Seven decades on, as their lorries and cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their audiences are lured by slick digital technology. Filmed over five years, The Cinema Travellers accompanies a shrewd exhibitor, a benevolent showman and a maverick projector mechanic who bear a beautiful burden – to keep the last traveling cinemas of the world running.


The Gateway Bug by Johanna B. Kelly – USA, Australia, Canada | 2017 – 84 min.

Over 2 billion people on earth eat insects for protein. The Gateway Bug explores how changing daily eating habits can feed humanity in an uncertain age, one meal at a time.



The Road by Dmitrii Kalashnikov – Russia | 2016 – 67 min.

If you like car crash compilations and Russians with foul mouths, you will love this fascinating mosaic of asphalt adventures and landscape photography, in which video footage from a variety of dashboard cameras presents the absurd and frightening nature of Russia. Alongside a series of bizarre car accidents on the country’s roads, the dashboard cameras also capture other spectacles through the windshield, such as a hysterical wedding guest, a confused man and a horse-drawn sleigh. More than once, angry motorists brandish axes, pistols or sledgehammers at the camera, and at times the camera itself seems to come to life, when it is chucked out of the car or stolen by someone breaking in. The footage of spectacular trips through a forest fire, tall snowdrifts or flooded streets is almost poetic – and what’s that up there in the sky? Is it a plane crashing, or could it be a comet? Bemused commentary from unseen drivers and passengers or the sound of the car radio provides unintentionally comical moments. Would someone please call 911?



Tunnel Vision by Ivan Hexter – Australia | 2016 – 60 min.

Tunnel Vision tells the compelling story of the community that rose up in defiance against the divisive East West Link in Melbourne. Following East West’s announcement a test drilling rig arrived unannounced outside award-winning film-maker Ivan Hexter’s home. Drawn into the action Ivan grabbed his camera and for 18 months recorded hours of community pickets, mass demonstrations, confrontations with police, council campaigns, legal challenges and the ensuing media coverage. Ivan’s narrative and interviews with key activists support the unfolding story of a remarkable citizen’s movement where lawful, civil disobedience, savvy social media strategies and direct action undermined a government spin campaign, challenged vested interests, excited mass media, confronted police…and won. Tunnel Vision – the extraordinary story of a community that stood up, found its voice and made history.



To see the complete schedule for the festival please go to the official website: HERE


To know more about this festival please go to the Festival Profile or to the Official Website.

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