AIDC Announces Full 2022 Program

January 27, 2022
After a reductive couple of years under the pandemic, 2022 sees the return of the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), hosting in-person screenings, talks and workshops while maintaining some of the more beneficial online programs devised during their lockdown pivot, resulting in AIDC’s most ambitious edition to date.

Announcing the full program for its first-ever hybrid event, AIDC 2022 will deliver over 40 sessions, more than 90 speakers and 70-plus industry decision makers, with the event taking place at ACMI Melbourne, while streaming simultaneously online from 6-9 March 2022, and incorporating an online-only international marketplace running March 10-11.

Featuring talent from across the screen and digital media industries, including Jonas Poher Rasmussen, whose Oscar-shortlisted hybrid animated documentary Flee has received over 50 international awards and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize; Chapman and Maclain Way, the filmmaking brothers responsible for Netflix smash hit docu-series Wild Wild Country and Untold; Academy Award®-winning Australian filmmaker Eva Orner (Taxi to the Dark Side, Chasing Asylum, Burning); renowned independent producer and former co-head of movies at Amazon Studios, Ted Hope; investigative filmmaker Nanfu Wang, director of Academy Award-shortlisted In the Same Breath, and One Child Nation; digital evangelist and co-head of documentary at TIME Studios, Loren Hammonds; and producers Darren Dale and Jacob Hickey of the prolific production house Blackfella Films (First Contact, Filthy Rich and Homeless, the Books that Made Us).

“We worked really hard to get that lineup of speakers over the line,” reveals Natasha Gadd, CEO and Creative Director of AIDC. “We’re really excited that we’ve been able to secure such a stellar lineup as international speakers. And particularly proud that we have four documentary makers, who are part of this year’s Academy documentary shortlist.

“That’s including Jonas Poher Rasmussen, who directed Flee, an animated documentary that we will be exploring on our innovation day in terms of non-traditional ways of telling story and documentary. We’re also featuring the director of In The Same Breath, Nanfu Wang, which is also Academy shortlisted. She’ll be doing an incredible session on investigative documentary. And also, the Indian directors of Writing With Fire, Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas. Again, another Academy Award shortlisted film.

“That’s a huge lineup, but then adding to that, we’re excited to be welcoming Ted Hope, who’s the sort of producer extraordinaire of over 70 films. He works across a lot of independent features, was the former head of Amazon Studios, and bounces between independent filmmaking, studio filmmaking and narrative documentary. I think that’ll be a really interesting session and insightful for our audience.”

While AIDC has embraced a diverse and inclusive line-up, Gadd and the AIDC team have nonetheless crafted a cohesive thread through this year’s event, with a central theme of Bearing Witness framing the conference and its numerous sessions.

“We wanted to really drill down in terms of ideas spinning off from the Bearing Witness theme,” explains Gadd, a documentarian in her own right (2011’s Murundak: Songs of Freedom).

“One of our big sub-themes is On The Record, which is very much looking at truth telling and investigation and journalistic approaches to filmmaking. We’ve got some really exciting sessions that are looking at that, which includes interview sessions with some incredible podcast or audio documentary makers, such as Osman Faruqi (former political editor at Junkee) and Ruby Jones (Unravel True Crime). And we’re also looking at a great sort of deep dive into investigative storytelling with Nanfu Wang and the directors of In The Same Breath, and Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (Writing with Fire). So yeah, definitely some exciting opportunities to hear more about that side of documentary filmmaking.

“Another captivating sub-theme is Truth To Power, which looks at change making films, and films that have a really broad impact in terms of what they aim to achieve. Films which very much challenge the status quo and create change.

“At this point, in the midst of a global pandemic where we were seeing government-mandated lockdowns and border closures and travel restrictions, filmmakers were still innovating and adapting to bring us moments in time. And really working hard at trying to bring those stories to us, despite the fact that they might have been confined to home.

“Whether that be through working with archives, because they couldn’t shoot or travel due to international border closures or restrictions, but instead engaging local filmmaking teams or even directing over Zoom. We just saw so much interesting innovation in terms of people being able to continue to make their films. Even animating documentaries… there’s just been so many new and novel ways of producing films.”

While AIDC looks to showcase some the brightest and best documentary features, shorts and talent from across the globe, the event also serves as one of Australia’s most dynamic marketplaces, bringing producers, distributors and buyers together in a showcase of capitalistic creativity. While the traditional marketplace still remains under the cloak of COVID restrictions, 2022 will once again offer an innovative online international buyers portal that may herald a new normal for the industry at large.

“We were almost completely online in 2021,” elaborates Gadd on AIDC’s need to innovate during the pandemic’s broad impacts. “The closing night awards we had as a satellite event that we hosted in Melbourne, but then because there was the interstate border closures, different states hosted their own satellite events.

“And that was a really different experience. But one of the positives that we did see coming out of that virtual component, was being able to secure some of these really big buyers and such a huge number of those buyers.

“But also, usually it’s quite an intense kind of chaotic, crazy environment during the conference with so many people. And there’s meetings and there’s screenings and there’s sessions. But with the meetings that were happening online, pretty much just one-to-one, were really positive. Filmmakers really felt like they had the ear of the buyer and they were pitching without the distractions of other people meeting in the same space. There were definitely positives to come out of that scenario. So now, we’re doing both.

“We’ve got an international marketplace on the Thursday 10th and Friday 11th, which means all the internationals can meet with all of the pitching teams anywhere in the world. But for those who are attending, particularly local buyers and broadcasters, and also the producers who will be attending in person, there’ll be a meeting program for them to participate in person.”

In fact, more than 70 decision makers from around the world will participate in the AIDC marketplace, each looking for new projects to back and content to commission, including industry leaders and influencers 30West, the ABC, ACtual Films, Al Jazeera English, Amazon, ARTE G.E.I.E., BBC, CAA, Cinetic Media, Doc Society, CAT&Docs, CBC, Hulu, IDFA, LiSTNR Original Podcasts, Madman Entertainment, Netflix, NHK, SBS, Stan and Sundance Institute to name but a few. AIDC producer delegates can meet these decision makers through the Cut to the Chase curated pitch program, whose deadline of January 30, 2022 for project submissions is fast approaching.

Registration for AIDC 2022 is open now, with both hybrid (in-person and online) and virtual (online only) passes available, opening up opportunities to industry players across the globe.

AIDC 2022 will run 6-9 March 2022 in person at ACMI, Melbourne and online, with an online-only international marketplace 10-11 March 2022.

More information on the AIDC 2022 program, sessions and special guests can be found at aidc.com.au/doc-lab-interact/

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