15 Documentaries you cannot miss at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival 2019

mdff2019featuresWe present a list of 15 docs you cannot miss at the 4th Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, which will take place from July 19th – 30th, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

17 Blocks

17 Blocks by Davy Rothbart – USA | 2019 – 96 minutes

Using two decades of intimate home video, the story of the Sanford family, whose struggles with addiction and gun violence eventually lead to a journey of love, loss, and acceptance.

July 30th | Tuesday | Backlot Cinemas | 6:00 pm


Anthropocene: The Human Epoch by Jennifer Baichwal & Nicholas de Pencier
Canada | 2018 – 87 minutes

Filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky travel the globe to document the impact humans have made on the planet.

July 28th | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 6:15 pm


Ballad of a Righteous Merchant

Ballad of a Righteous Merchant by Herbert Golder
USA | 2017 – 61 minutes

A fresh and candid glimpse of one of the great masters of cinema at work, by his longtime friend (of more than 25 years) and collaborator (on 10 films) Herbert Golder, ‘Ballad of a Righteous Merchant’ chronicles Werner Herzog’s making of the feature film, ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?’ (co-written by Golder), which was nominated for a GOLDEN LION and for Best Screenplay at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, and which stars Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, and Chloe Sevigny.

July 27th | Saturday | Cinema Nova | 11 pm



Cielo by Alison McAlpine – Chile, Canada | 2017 – 77 minutes

A cinematic reverie on the wonder and crazy beauty of the night sky, as seen from one of the best places on our planet to explore and ponder it: the Atacama Desert, Chile.

July 20th | Saturday | Cinema Nova | 4:15 pm


Dark Money

Dark Money by Kimberly Reed – USA | 2018 – 98 minutes

‘Dark Money’, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Through this gripping story, ‘Dark Money’ uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. This Sundance award-winning documentary is directed/produced by Kimberly Reed (‘Prodigal Sons’) and produced by Katy Chevigny (‘E-Team’).

July 21st | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 2:00 pm



KISS vs MCZ by Toru Tokikawa – Japan, USA | 2018 – 60 minutes

A fascinating documentary about two different cultures meeting through the power of music: legendary Rock band KISS vs. Japanese pop mega-star girls band Momoiro Clover Z (MCZ).

July 29th | Monday | Backlot Cinemas | 6:00 pm

New Homeland

New Homeland by Barbara Kopple – USA | 2018 – 93 minutes

Filmmaker Barbara Kopple chronicles the experiences of five refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq whose families have resettled in Canada.

July 30th | Tuesday | Backlot Cinemas | 8:30 pm


Pariah Dog

Pariah Dog by Jesse Alk – India | 2018 – 77 minutes

A poetic documentary focusing on several eccentric street dog caretakers in Kolkata, India. Shot over three years, the film paints a kaleidoscopic picture of the city of Kolkata, seen through the prism of four outsiders and the dogs they love.

July 23rd | Tuesday | Cinema Nova | 8:45 pm


Right To Harm

Right to Harm by Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher
USA | 2019 – 88 minutes

Through the riveting stories of five American communities, ‘Right to Harm’ exposes the devastating public health impact that factory farming has on many of our country’s most disadvantaged citizens. Known formally as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – or CAFOs – these facilities produce millions of gallons of untreated waste that destroys the quality of life for nearby neighbors. Fed up with the lack of regulation, these citizens turned activists band together from across the country to demand justice.

July 28th | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 4:15 pm


Sharkwater Extinction

Sharkwater Extinction by Rob Stewart – USA | 2018 – 85 minutes

Filmmaker Rob Stewart exposes the illegal fishing industry that threatens the survival of the world’s sharks.

July 20th | Saturday | Cinema Nova | 8:45 pm



Silent Forests

Silent Forests by Mariah Wilson
USA, Cameroon, Congo | 2019 – 109 minutes

‘Silent Forests’ is an intimate, character-driven portrait of conservationists and activists who are struggling to stop forest elephant poaching in Africa’s Congo Basin region. After a study revealed that more than half the Central African forest elephant population has been lost to poaching in the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to save those that remain. ‘Silent Forests’ will explore this story through a range of dynamic subjects; including one of Cameroon’s first female eco-guards, a grassroots wildlife law enforcement group, a Congolese biologist studying elephant behaviour, a reformed elephant poacher, and a team of anti-poaching sniffer dogs led by a Czech conservationist. As passionate and tenacious as these conservationists are, they are up against huge institutional challenges like corruption and lack of funding that threaten to derail all their attempts to fight for the future of the forest elephant.

July 21st | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 4:15 pm



singled out

Singled [Out] by Mariona Guiu Pont & Ariadna Relea Ventura
Turkey, Spain | 2017 – 80 minutes

‘Singled [Out]’ tells the story of five educated women in four corners of the world: Jules in Melbourne, Manu in Barcelona, Shu and Yang in Shanghai, and Melek in Istanbul -they all travel solo in a world where pairing up is the norm. Together with the voices of some well-known experts in the areas of sociology, law and demography, the film unveils modern love in the era of choice and is a journey to the heart of being a single woman today.

July 24th | Wednesday | Cinema Nova | 8:45 pm



Skid Row Marathon

Skid Row Marathon by Mark Hayes – USA, Ghana, Italy | 2017 – 85 minutes

A criminal court judge starts a running club on L.A.’s notorious skid row. The club’s members, comprised of homeless drug addicts, a recovering single mom and a murderer, consider themselves among those least likely to succeed. As they train together to run marathons, they learn to dream big as they are re-acquainted with their own dignity.

July 21st | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 8:45 pm



Trust Machine

Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain by Alex Winter
USA | 2018 – 84 minutes

Hacktivist and blockchain expert Lauri Love fights extradition in ‘Trust Machine’—his computer skills a threat to the US government. Tech innovators strike a raw nerve as banks and network pundits rush to condemn volatile cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology. Award–winning filmmaker Alex Winter reveals that proponents of the blockchain—a verified digital ledger—are already using the technology to change the world; fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis and world hunger.

July 21st | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 6:15 pm



Unravelling Athena

Unravelling Athena by Francis Amat – USA | 2018 – 103 minutes

‘Unraveling Athena’ is a feature documentary that chronicles the journey that Women Tennis Champions pass through – from small child with a large racket, to ranked player, and ultimately to WTA number one in the world, and beyond – her Journey after reaching the pinnacle. The film explores the ingredients, the common themes and qualities, that account for the remarkable achievements of these women, from different generations, nationalities and personalities. Interweaving the lives of these champions the film creates a single, unified narrative of modern-day contemporary heroines. ‘Unraveling Athena’ will also introduce us to the journey of the brain, a topic never discussed in sports films. ‘Unraveling Athena’ is the story of a journey, not only in professional tennis, but a journey of life that can inspire us on many levels.

July 28th | Sunday | Cinema Nova | 2:00 pm


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