4th Melbourne Documentary Film Festival – Winners 2019

We present the list of winners of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival which took place from July 19th – 30th, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Feature Documentary Section
Supreme Award

17 Blocks17 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.


Best International Documentary

JR Bob DobbsJR Bob Dobbs Church of the Sub Genius by Sandy K. Boone
USA | 2019 – 85 minutes

The Church of the SubGenius has been called “the most aggressively preposterous theology the world has ever known!” But what is the Church? Filmmaker Sandy K. Boone explores the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged – to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it – except, maybe, poke fun at it all.


Best Australian Documentary

Art of IncarcerationArt of Incarceration by Alex Siddons – Australia | 2019 – 90 minutes

‘Art of Incarceration’ explores The Torch, a pioneering not for profit organisation that runs arts programs for Indigenous prisoners and ex-offenders in the Victorian prison system. The film is an uncompromising insight into the inmates’ quest for cultural identity and spiritual healing as they prepare for The Torch’s annual Confined exhibition and for life on the outside. This narrative documentary both analyses and humanises the over-representation of Indigenous Australians within the prison system, whilst seeking answers and striving toward solutions. The film clearly and profoundly explores greatly misunderstood issues such as cultural disconnection, intergenerational trauma, addiction and institutionalization. ‘Art of Incarceration’ will start the conversation that Australia has neglected for too long.


Best Director – International / Australian

17 BlocksDavy Rothbart for 17 Blocks – USA | 2019 – 96 minutes


Best Music Documentary

Tommy EmmanuelTommy Emmanuel: The Endless Road by Jeremy Dylan
Australia, USA, Cuba, UK | 2018 – 80 minutes

The story of guitar icon Tommy Emmanuel, whose journey takes him from Australia’s youngest guitar prodigy to the world’s most acclaimed acoustic guitarist. Revelations about the father he idolized send Tommy into a decades-long battle with addiction, which threatens to derail his family and career, even as he drives himself to become one of the world’s most compelling performers. The film also tells the touching story of the relationship between Tommy and his hero, mentor and surrogate father figure, the legendary Chet Atkins. Told through intimate backstage footage, explosive concert performances, rare archival material and unfiltered interviews with Tommy’s closest friends and family (as well as stars from Joe Satriani to Jason Isbell to Monty Python’s Eric Idle), the film examines the scars of childhood trauma, breaking cycles of self-destruction and the ambitious rise of a man determined to bring happiness to all corners of the globe with his music, even as his own life was in danger of toppling


Best Melbourne Documentary

Art of IncarcerationArt of Incarceration by Alex Siddons – Australia | 2019 – 90 minutes


Audience Choice

DoseDosed by Tyler Chandler
Canada, Netherlands, USA, UK, Gabon – 82 minutes

After years of prescription medications failed her a suicidal young woman, Adrianne, turns to underground healers to try and overcome her depression, anxiety, and opioid addiction with micro-dosing and iboga.


Short Documentary Section
Supreme Award

Happy AndroidHappy Android by Jaina Kalifa – Australia | 2019 – 25 minutes

Street performer Paul Cooper brings joy to audiences around the world with his endearing roving act Tubby the Robot, yet he struggles to find joy within himself. Paul’s childhood was disturbed by a tragic family accident and he now suffers from depression and anxiety. Often feeling disconnected and broken, he goes through the motions of life like an automated machine. Ironically, it is when Paul performs as Tubby that he feels the most functional, the most human. Paul and Tubby inhabit very different worlds – one full of sorrow and alienation, the other filled with happiness and love. In this unique film the two worlds collide, leading to a poignant exploration of family, mental illness and the transformative.


Best International

UncagedUncaged: A Stand-In Story by Blake Johnston and Kelso Steinhoff
USA | 2019 – 11 minutes

Marco Kyris worked as Nic Cage’s stand-in for a decade on 20 films; everything from Cage’s break out role in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ to the blockbuster franchise ‘National Treasure’. In ‘Uncaged: A Stand-In Story’, Marco talks about his early life as an actor, his journey into the entourage of Nic Cage, and what it was like working in the shadow for one of Hollywood’s Legends of Cinema.


Best Australian Short Documentary

I Want You to KnowI Want You to Know by Gabriel Morrison – Australia – 8 minutes

When a seven-year-old girl accompanies her mother to the market in occupied Krasnodar, she doesn’t realize the true stakes at hand.


Best Melbourne Documentary

Be You T FoolBe You T Fool by Brendan Piches – Australia | 2019 – 6 minutes

An anonymous street artist reveals her secret practice of pasting portraits on the pillars of Chandler Highway Bridge in Alphington, Melbourne.


Best Short Director

Happy AndroidJaina Kalifa for Happy Android – Australia | 2019 – 25 minutes


Doc Challenge

HandoutThe Handout by Vedrana Music – 6 minutes

A mother escaping war decides to bring home a treat for her daughter.

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