If you’re talking about independent cinema, then it doesn’t come much more independent than short documentary. With little chance of widespread exhibition, and usually made by filmmakers on little more than the smell of an oily rag, this is personal, from-the-gut cinema right from the edge, made by people who care deeply about the subjects that they have chosen to cover. Short doco always has a welcome home at The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, and this year (which runs from July 19 through to July 30) is no different.
There are literally too many to run through here, so FilmInk has taken a peruse through the listings and chosen what look to be the most alluring from a very alluring list. The sweetly inflected weirdness of Flight Of The LAD (an inventor toils on a UFO shaped object, also known as The LAD, in honour of his late wife); The Beeman (starring a conservationist who can communicate with honeybees!); and Happy Android (which follows street performer Paul Cooper alias Tubby The Robot) have us buzzing, while the dark tales of After The Tsunami (in which Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami reflect on the event, impact, and aftermath of the tragedy), Haunted Witness (about the trauma suffered by crime reporters), and Voodoo Medics (an eight-part documentary about trauma, resilience and posttraumatic growth in the medics who served with our special forces in Afghanistan) have us bracing for something truly powerful.
The indigenous-themed inclusions (Running 62, Voice From The Desert, Don’t Call Me Beautiful) all sound fascinating, as do the LGBTQ-related titles (We’re All In This Together, And Me), and we’re expecting major tears at the end of Adoption Pending (the story of George, a two-year-old Staffy x Husky, who is surrendered to an adoption home) and Stuart X (about Stuart Iredale, who was born with the rare condition, Fragile X). The two films that we truly caught our eye, however, are the sports-movie-in-miniature, Comeback Kid: Liam McNeill (starring the eponymous Muay Thai fighter, a once bullied young man who is absolutely obsessed with the brutal sport), and the coming-of-age sure-to-be-charmer, Prom Night (which stars Billie, a 17-year-old non-binary teenager, who prepares to attend a formal for underage queer youth for the first time).
When it comes to the short documentaries at this year’s Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, that’s just the tip of iceberg…
The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival runs from July 19 through to July 30. For all programming, session, venue and ticketing details, click here.