MDFF 2019: Top 10 Features

A slew of brilliant documentary filmmaking will descend on Melbourne July 19th – 30th as the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival returns for its fourth year.

Documentary Drive has been a media partner with the festival since its inaugural start back in 2016 and as always it’s a privilege to see and tell you about all the wonderful films set to screen.

Creating a Top 10 list isn’t an easy task. Especially when it comes to narrowing it down for this year’s festival.

There are 50 features headed to Melbourne. All deserving and all telling remarkable stories that will inspire and stick with you long after the festival is over.

Below are 10 of those feature documentaries we think you ought to see.

“Sharkwater Extinction” directed by Rob Stewart

“Filmmaker Rob Stewart exposes the illegal fishing industry that threatens the survival of the world’s sharks.” See the Melbourne Premiere of Stewart’s final film July 20th at Cinema Nova.

“Right to Harm” directed by Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher

“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.” The Australian Premiere of Right to Harm takes place July 28th at Cinema Nova.

“New Homeland” directed by Barbara Kopple

“Filmmaker Barbara Kopple chronicles the experiences of five refugee children from Syria and Iraq whose families have resettled in Canada.” Catch the Australian Premiere of Academy Award-winning director (Harlan County, USA and American Dream) Barabara Kopple’s New Homeland July 30th at Backlot Studios.

“Skid Row Marathon” directed by Mark Hayes

“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.” Don’t miss the Australian Premiere of Skid Row Marathon July 27th at Cinema Nova.

“Pariah Dog” directed by Jesse Alk

Pariah Dog is a creative 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.” See the Australian Premiere of Pariah Dog at Cinema Nova July 23rd.

“Looby” directed by Nick Garner and Iain Knight

Looby is the story of what happens when an artist chooses to speak out. For Australian painter Keith Looby, it cost him almost everything. Winner of prestigious art prizes and collected by major galleries at home and abroad, Keith’s addiction to speaking his mind has left a string of failed business relationships, marriages and friendships. Bludgeoned into coherence by the filmmakers, assessed by dealers, curators, critics and fellow artists, Looby is a chance to look at a brilliant artist who had his moment in the sun, and to ask whether he should have another.” The World Premiere of Looby takes place July 27th at Cinema Nova.

“The Ghost of Peter Sellers” directed by Peter Medak

“A comedy genius, a hot new director and a 17th Century pirate film. What could possibly go wrong? The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a feature length documentary directed by Peter Medak about his unreleased film Ghost in the Noonday Sun, starring Peter Sellers and filmed in Cyprus in 1973. To this day one of the biggest film productions ever undertaken in Cyprus.” See the Australian Premiere of The Ghost of Peter Sellers at Cinema Nova July 19th.

“Saving Warru” directed by Daniel Clarke and Amy Psyden

“Warru, or black-footed rock-wallaby, is one of South Australia’s most endangered mammals. In 2007, when numbers dropped below 200 in the remote central desert, the Warru Recovery Team was formed to help save the precious species from extinction. Bringing together contemporary science, practical on-ground threat management and traditional Anangu ecological knowledge, this unique decade-long program has recently celebrated the release of dozens of warru to the wild for the first time. Come on a remarkable adventure in conservation and culture as the indigenous people of the wild red deserts of Australia fight to save a national icon.” The Melbourne Premiere of Saving Warru takes place July 20th at Cinema Nova.

“Chasing the Jet Stream” directed by Claudio Von Planta

Chasing the Jet Stream follows the pioneering adventure of Marc Hauser, a Swiss entrepreneur and motivational speaker who wants to become the first skydiver in the world jumping into a hurricane force jet stream at 8,000 to 10,000 meters altitude. With this record, Marc wants to bring attention to the nascent technology of airborne wind energy systems, which can harness high-altitude wind power. This new technology has the potential to defuse the global energy crisis.” Chasing the Jet Stream makes its Melbourne Premiere July 27th at Cinema Nova.

“Unraveling Athena” directed by Francis Amat

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.” See the Australian Premiere of Unraveling the Athena at Cinema Nova July 28th.

To learn more about the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, visit: mdff.org.au / @mdffest / and the MDFF Facebook Group

Posted by Documentary Drive