Film, Lists

6 docos that have us keen for the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

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This week marks the official opening of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF), the first of its kind to be en entirely online experience. The fact that you can enjoy the festival from your living room, and at a schedule of your choosing, isn’t the only impressive feat turning heads towards the event – not by a long shot.

Organisers behind the 2020 instalment of MDFF have moved heaven and earth to curate a forward-thinking and challenging selection of documentaries bearing the fingerprints of local and international documentarians.

From today – Tuesday, 30th June through to Wednesday, 15th July, MDFF will be showcasing more than 90 titles with a strong emphasis placed on amplifying diverse voices and stories. 45 of the submissions are the works of female directors, with stories from all over the globe including Brazil, Russia, Finland, Israel, South Korea and more.

Another main pillar of the festival is to highlight local and indigenous Australian features. As such, along with the four global premieres, it will feature 42 Australian ones.

To act as a diving board to allow you to plunge head first into the festival, we’ve picked six documentaries that we put in our ‘Stop whatever you’re doing and watch’ pile.


After the Lockouts II: Gladys War on Music

Director: Paul G Roberts
Synopsis: The sequel to the renowned ‘After the Lockouts’ feature, this second film explores the attack on live music that the Liberal NSW government’s new regulations pose, and takes a deeper look into the machinations of power and their impacts on business, culture and personal liberties.


Small Island Big Song – An Oceanic Songline

Director: Tim Cole
Synopsis: Filmed over three years on 16 Island nations across the Pacific & Indian Oceans, this grassroots musical follows the ocean highways uniting ancient musical lineages. From Madagascar to Rapa Nui/Easter Island, Taiwan to Zenadth Kes/The Torres Strait. A heartfelt plea for environmental awareness and cultural preservation from those on the frontline of the climate crisis.


The Submarine Case

Director: Dvorit Shargal
Synopsis: In the summer of 2017, Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist, boarded a private submarine in Denmark to interview the entrepreneur Peter Madsen and disappeared. The subsequent search for the journalist would produce horrifying findings. At the same time, in Israel, the director Dvorit Shargal dreams a strange and disturbing dream.


Insert Coin

Director: Joshua Tsui
Synopsis: The oral history of a team of geeks and misfits in the back of a Chicago factory creating the biggest video games (Mortal Kombat, NBA JAM, and others) of all time.


Batman and Me

Director: Michael Wayne
Synopsis: Darren Maxwell became addicted to collecting Batman merchandise in late 1980s Australia as a way to be a part of nascent geek culture. Decades later, Darren’s stuck with a room full of collectables – a membership card to a fandom he no longer recognises – yet powerful forces beyond his control mean he’s unable to let go. BATMAN AND ME is a sobering look at the highs and lows of obsessive collecting in an increasingly pop culture-centric world, and the price of admission to fandom.


The Rise of the Synths

Director: Ivan Castell
Synopsis: The Rise of the Synths is a documentary film directed by Iván Castell and narrated by filmmaker and composer John Carpenter. The film explores the origins and growth of the electronic music genre known as Synthwave, charting its rise in popularity from the underground online music scene to its recent mainstream exposure following use in retro-themed soundtracks, notably the 2011 film Drive, and more recently the television series Stranger Things.


Tickets to Melbourne Documentary Film Festival are available now. Information on how to access the VOD stream can be found after the jump.

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