Short documentaries are abundant at this year’s Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. With a whopping 7 Shorts Sessions to choose from and numerous shorts screening alongside features, deciding which shorts to see may be one of the most difficult decisions festivalgoers will have to make.

Below, we spotlight several films in each session. Each session is also linked.

They are striking and moving portraits that convey powerful personal stories. Whether happy or heartrending, reflective or in the present, each of the shorts below will reach your heart in a special and memorable way.


“The Farm” directed by Charlotte Newman

Synopsis: “Unable to achieve her dream amid the city’s rat race, Mildred Coursey led her loved ones East. Aided by communication with ‘The Upstairs,’ the eventual creation of a community founded on spirit, love, and connection began. Kahunui Village was the answer for the founding group of Aucklanders, and many troubled, young New Zealanders. Youths addicted to drugs and alcohol, struggling with eating disorders, and those that were simply lost, would make the choice to make a change. It became, as it always was, the only way out.The experience of Kahunui was a lived one, and it continues to breathe within the souls of Sandra Faye, Barry J. Bublitz, and Jamie Sullivan. A Co-Founder, a former resident turned Trust Director and a long-term local whose childhood intertwined with those at the farm. “The Farm” is a short documentary that recollects the Kahunui Village Trust’s strengths and weaknesses. Explored by a new generation, Mildred’s great-granddaughter, the purpose of the farm is to encourage new dreams pertaining to mental health treatments, resources, and awareness.”

“30 (Still Single)” directed by Cathy Woods

Synopsis: “A short documentary that explores the loneliness that comes with being single as a millennial. Set over the course of the thirtieth year of filmmaker Cathy Woods’ life. This intimate and raw film delves into what it is like to be thirty and single in a time when situationships are the norm, and the societal pressure to be in a relationship is evident.”

“Ability” directed by Faezeh Alavi

Synopsis: “People on a Melbourne street share their beliefs about how to prevent wars. Humorous and heartfelt, their responses show the diversity of opinion on this topic.”


“Hidden Hunger” directed by Orit Novak

Synopsis: “This short documentary journeys across Kenya and Tanzania, exploring urban and rural communities, to shed light on the invisible crisis of malnutrition. The film emphasises the voices of women; mothers, millers, farmers and activists as they work hard to implement impactful solutions whilst facing a challenging reality. Through their narratives, the documentary illustrates how Sanku’s fortified maize initiatives empower communities to combat disease, enhance livelihoods, and pave the way for a brighter future for generations to come.”

“Taste of the Indigenous” directed by Josephine Bono

Synopsis: “Two Indigenous chefs take turns hosting a culinary experience allowing us to rediscover the tradition and culture behind their tribe’s ancestral food.”

“The Kids Play” directed by Elizabeth Chow

Synopsis: “This is a film about a community theatre project run by drama therapist Anne Gollan. When I heard about what Anne was doing, I felt drawn to document her process. Creating a show with teenagers about their lived experience in 2022, off the back of two years of intermittent Covid lockdowns intrigued me. How was she finding out these teenagers’ secrets and then how were these confronting topics going to be handled in a public performance by the kids themselves? A piece of gritty and entertaining theatre created by a tight-knit group of 30 young people aged 11 to 16 with the help of professional writers culminated in a three night run in November of 2022 to sold out audiences. Based in the inner north of Melbourne on the lands of the Wurundjeri people, this film captures a moment in time when a community came together under the “Cult of Anne” and the smell of an oily rag to make room for kids to be together and reflect their experiences of being a teenager in 2022. The results were more than the sum of their parts.”


“We are Flying Stars” directed by Todd Antony

Synopsis: “The civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002) not only killed more than 50,000 people, it also led to thousands of innocent civilians having legs, arms or hands forcibly amputated by rebel soldiers. Or removed by landmines. The film looks at the Flying Star Amputees who are a group of football teams born out of the adversity of this war. All the players are victims of civil war amputations, and football has brought them a level of joy, confidence, and hope for a better future for disabled people in Sierra Leone.”

“Debut” directed by Peta Hitchens

Synopsis: “They’re the new recruits. Three apprentices embarking on their first year as jockeys in one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Each month they’ll train together at jockey school residentials. While they’re not training with the group, they’re out at training tracks around Victoria, Australia. Mucking out boxes, saddling up, and riding trackwork. They’ll progress from riding in ‘jump outs’, where they learn to jump out of the starting gates, then to official trials; both steps on the path to being cleared to ride in races as fully-fledged jockeys. The pressure on the young riders to stay safe and succeed is immense. “Debut” takes us on a ride as they prepare for their first race.”

“Finding Venus” directed by Mandi Lynn

Synopsis: “Auntie Mandi?”- “Yes Harper?” – “Am I fat?” Her niece was 5 at the time and this exchange touched a raw nerve in Master Photographer Mandi Lynn. Why was a 5-year-old worrying about a thigh gap? Concerned that the next generation was going to face the same energy-draining body shame that had impacted her life, Mandi decided to create a “Golden Breasted Shield Wall of Reality” for them. In December 2016, Mandi put an advertisement on social media asking women to let her cover their torsos in golden clay and photograph them. Six women turned up for the first photo shoot. The numbers quickly rose to 100, and a year and a half later, the “Golden Breasted Shield Wall” was 320 strong. Mandi dubbed the women who were willing to shed their clothing for the movement The Luscious Order of Golden Shield Maidens. Her goal is to reach 600 images which will create a counterpoint to the 400-600 photoshopped images we see daily.This is the only documentary to date to win Fresh Shorts funding from the New Zealand Film Commission. The Commission cited the funding success to the fact that as one of New Zealand’s most awarded photographers, Mandi has developed a style that can tell an epic story in just one frame. They felt the story she was creating needed to be told and would appeal to audiences around the globe.”


Elsa and Ervin” directed by Mark Hellinger

Synopsis: “Having narrowly escaped the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, a young boy, Ervin, finds himself alone in an orphanage in 1940s Hungary. When his older sister hears he is in danger she risks her life to save his.”

“As the Leash Comes Loose” directed by Jackson Hayat

Synopsis: “A veterinary euthanasia specialist endeavours to alleviate the suffering of others, whilst navigating her own struggles with mental health.”

Yiayia Mou (My Grandmother)” directed by Koraly Dimitriadis

Synopsis: “Australian-born poet Koraly Dimitriadis recounts her Cypriot grandmother’s story. Set in the ancient Paphos Theatre that has not seen a performance in over a thousand years, this epic poem echoes the heartache of the migrant experience across three generations of women.”

“Acts of Heroism” directed by Jary Nemo

Synopsis: “This short documentary film explores the history of emergency rescues in South Eastern Australia by Aboriginal people of non-Aboriginal people. In the 19th and early 20th century in the colony of Victoria in South Eastern Australia, Aboriginal Australians saved lives. They knew how to manage fire and flood in the bush and where to find food in times of scarcity. Despite the devastating impacts of European invasion, Aboriginal people consistently offered help and rescue to colonists.”

Wind & Sky Productions


“Old Lesbians” directed by Meghan McDonough

Synopsis: “For the last quarter century, Houston native Arden Eversmeyer journeyed across the country to record hundreds of oral “herstories” with a mostly invisible population that is rapidly disappearing. “Old Lesbians” honors Arden’s legacy by animating the resilient, joyful voices she preserved in the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project, from first crush to first love, from the closet to coming out, and finally from loss to connection.”

“Femme” directed by Delsi Moleta

Synopsis: “A short film exploring what it means to be a queer femme person in modern Australia. What are some of the unique challenges femme people face? What are some of the beautiful parts? This short, colourful doco offers a look into life as a femme person through the perspectives of 13 queer people.”

“My First Time” directed by Carolyn Cage

Synopsis: “Made for queer people and their allies, “My First Time” takes an unfiltered and heartfelt look at unforgettable first universal queer experiences from members from Australia’s LGBTQ+ community. The cast includes those who have been commemorated for their own ‘firsts’ – DQ, who was present at Australia’s first Pride protest in 1978 (now known as Mardi Gras); Kween Kong, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under runner up; and Katherine Wolfgramme, who set a legal precedent in her country of birth by being the first to legally change her name. Through their stories, we gain an insight into how pivotal their ‘first times’ were, while turning them into an unforgettable journey. It’s a series that will warm your heart, make you laugh out loud, and at times reach for the tissue box.”


“Gabriel Lynch: Where I’m Going Next” directed by Brayden Pope

Synopsis: “Gabriel Lynch is an Australian singer-songwriter who has been in the industry since 2006. Gabriel reflects on his career including how he started, and the difficulties facing emerging artists in the modern age.”

“Canwn: Let’s Sing” Cohen Medson

Synopsis: “A short film about the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir and the benefits that choral singing can have on men’s physical, emotional and spiritual well being.”

“Heat Beat” directed by Tamara Brane-Gregory

Synopsis: “‘Heat Beat’ brings NO ZU’s last ever tour to you. After playing for 15 years together, the band completed their final tour at The Night Cat in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. NO ZU transcends genre into an experience of dance and self expression as old memories resurface on stage.”


“The Katz Tapes” directed by Adam Fischer

Synopsis: “From 1980-2005, Larry Katz, a reporter for the Boston Herald, interviewed music’s biggest stars and recorded their conversations onto cassette tapes. His collection has been sitting untouched and unheard for decades…until now.”

“Sydney G. James: How We See Us” directed by Juanita Anderson

Synopsis: “Visual artist/muralist, Sydney G. James, addresses the status of Black women in society, police brutality, family and community through bold brushstrokes and hues that evoke the complexities of Black reality, joy, pain, and resilience. Inspired by personal experiences, current events and her hometown of Detroit, she invites conversations with family members and fellow artists as she creates a new work on canvas and transforms vacant walls into creative space.”

“Dreamweavers – Gidja Walker OAM” directed by Yanni Dellaportas and Heather Forbes-McKeon

Synopsis: “Gidja Walker is a Mornington Peninsula based ecologist and ethnobotanist who has worked for years protecting its Earthscapes. Gidja overcame discrimination in a male dominated profession. She is a mentor to young women entering the world of nature-based learning and an advocate for traditional owner custodianship. Over many decades, Gidja has contributed professionally and informally as a consultant and advisor to many government bodies and community-based organisations. In 2006 she was a recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Banksia award for the “Back from the Brink” endangered orchid species recovery project.”

In addition to the 7 Shorts Sessions, there are a variety of short documentaries screening alongside features. Here are three of those compelling shorts to consider.

“understorey” directed by Claire Riverland and Lily Newcombe (screening link)

Synopsis: “In the heart of the Malaysian rainforest, tour guides and conservationists strive to rekindle our lost connection to nature by planting seeds of sustainable practices and a love for nature from an early age.”

“My Name is Jack” directed by Christian Buxton (screening link)

Synopsis: “Jack had a successful career as an anesthetist but behind closed doors he struggled with his own drug addiction. This is his story.”

“Great Ocean Love” directed by Ella Bourne (screening link)

Synopsis: “Part documentary, part road-trippin’ surf flick that follows Belinda Baggs, Linley Hurrell, and Lilly Pollard on a journey of discovery along the Great Ocean Road. Centred around the teachings of Gunditjmara whale dreamer Yaraan Bundle. Along the way, they meet saltwater women who share their love for the rugged coastline they call home.”

For more information on the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, visit: and check out for a complete list of films and showtimes.