Documentaries are having a moment – again. Thanks to recent Netflix sensations like Fyre and Abducted in Plain Sight, not to mention the ubiquity of like-minded podcasts, docs have proven a crucial – and enjoyable – part of any balanced diet of media consumption.
For a fortnight this autumn, ACMI has joined with the Australian International Documentary Conference to take you on a deep dive into some of the best and newest documentaries. The 14 selections range from restored classics to premiere films and docu-series, plus creator intros and Q&As. You can grab session tickets individually, or in handy batches of three or six.
The most timely entry in the showcase has got to be Surviving R. Kelly, a six-episode TV series making its Australian premiere. Screening each episode back-to-back, this four-hour event looks at how it took so long for Kelly’s alleged decades of abuse to catch up with him, and gives some of the women from the R’n’B singer’s inner circle a chance to share their own stories. Interview subjects also include the founders of #metoo and #muteRKelly.
Another highlight is Censored, Sari Braithwaite’s visual journey through Australia’s censorship archives. Scored live by local jazz octet The End, the hour-long film essay won the Gold Hugo award for Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Though both are on Netflix, Quincy and Shirkers will make their Australian theatrical premieres at ACMI. The former is a loving two-hour look at musical icon Quincy Jones – whose visionary work with Michael Jackson is only one facet of his lasting legacy – while the latter tells the bizarre story of a trio of teenagers making Singapore’s first independent feature film back in the ’90s, only to have their would-be mentor deceive and block them at every turn. Both include a Q&A with the filmmakers, which you certainly won’t get on Netflix.
There are also several other docos that focus on creative figures who stand out from the pack. Jill Magid’s The Proposal unpacks the Mexican architect Luis Barragán, while Mark Bozek’s The Times of Bill Cunningham revisits the titular world-famous fashion photographer and Gary Hustwit’s Rams pays tribute to influential German industrial designer Dieter Rams.
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