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Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Online and at Cinema Nova

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Selected in-cinema screenings this July
The 6th Melbourne Documentary Film Festival runs from the 1st -31st July 2021 Online and the 8th to 17th September 2021 In-Cinema at Cinema Nova!

The festival showcases the very best documentaries from Venice, SXSW, Slamdance, Sundance, CPHDOX, Doxa, Hot Docs, VIFF, Shanghai Film Festival, Harlem International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival! Both online and in-cinema! Online - 1st - 31st July 2021 In-cinema at Cinema Nova - 8th to 17th September 2021

Here are our top picks for the cinema festival running at Cinema Nova from 8th to 17th September 2021

1: Floating: This feature documentary tells uplifting stories of ordinary people easing their pain and performing at their highest level through Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy). On the heels of groundbreaking research by clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Justin Feinstein, a principal investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, this film follows Shane Stott as he introduces floating across America to the people who need it the most and in the process helps them learn how to heal themselves.


2: Alien on Stage: This is a story about a unique crew of Dorset Bus Drivers whose amateur dramatics group decide to ditch doing another pantomime and try something different. Having never done anything like it before, they spent a year creating a serious adaptation of the sci-fi, horror film, Alien; finding ingenious solutions to pay a homemade homage to the original film.


3: Black Summer / Inferno Without Borders:

Black Summer: A documentary about the 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia. Delving into the lives of the locals impacted and the effect it has had on the environment around them.

Inferno Without Borders: Experts in politics, ecology and land management stress the importance of adjusting to the new reality of extreme weather conditions and most importantly adopting methods to reduce global warming. Can our past save our future?


4: The Six: The last great mystery of Titanic is unraveled, as an international team searches for the ship's lost Chinese passengers, uncovering an extraordinary tale of survival and dignity in the face of racism and anti-immigrant policy.


5: Meeting the Beatles in India: Filmmaker Paul Saltzman retraces his journey of 50 years ago when he spent a life-changing time with the Beatles at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram on the banks of the Ganges River. In 1968, he discovered his own soul, learned meditation, which changed his life and hung out with John, Paul, George and Ringo. Fifty years later, he finds "Bungalow Bill" in Hawaii; connects with David Lynch about his own inner journey; as well as preeminent Beatles historian, Mark Lewisohn; and Academy Award-nominated film composer, Laurence Rosenthal. We also meet Pattie and Jenny Boyd. And much of this is due to Saltzman's own daughter, Devyani, reminding him that he had put away and forgotten remarkably intimate photographs of that time in 1968.


6: Castro's Spies: The thrilling story of an elite group of Cuban spies sent undercover to the US in the 1990s. From their recruitment, training and eventual capture on US soil; this film peers into a secret world of false identities, love affairs and betrayal. Using never seen before footage from the Cuban Film Institute's archive and first-hand testimony from the people at the heart of this story, Castro's Spies gives a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of a spy - where the stakes are life and death.


7: Batoor/Do Nothing and Do It Well:

Batoor: A Refugee Journey Batoor: A Refugee Journey : Afghani photojournalist Barat Ali Batoor won a Walkley Award for the images he captured on his own refugee boat journey. One of Afghanistan's leading photographers, Batoor first won international acclaim in 2011 for his powerful photo essay exposing one of his country's darkest secrets - the scandalous and brutal trade in young 'dancing boys' used for entertainment and prostitution. But his work made him a target of the Taliban and the powerful warlords who control the evil trade. Forced to flee, he took refuge in the Pakistani city of Quetta. But with the targeted killings of Batoor's own Hazara community on the rise in the city, he again became a target of assassins. With imminent death threats against him, Batoor was forced to flee along an asylum seeker route taken by thousands before him. He embarked on an epic journey that saw him traverse three continents, be people smuggled over multiple borders, survive a shipwreck in the open seas, become lost in the jungles of Indonesia, escape from imprisonment and spend months living undercover as an illegal immigrant. Remarkably, Batoor recorded his entire journey, creating a compelling record of his own journey and the lives of asylum seekers in a perilous world of cross border trafficking and risky sea voyages. Finally granted refugee status in Australia, the 37-year-old has retraced his 13-months journey creating a powerful account of his odyssey and turning his film footage and Walkley-winning images into a stunning 90-minute film.

Do Nothing and Do it Well: The true story of Melbourne's radical Chinese cabinetmakers whose militant union defied racial stereotypes and struck fear into the White Australian establishment.


8: Wanting to Fly / Mental as Everything / Beyond the Burning

Wanting To Fly: We follow Neil through his journey of human suspension. In addition, we delve into the suspension community in Melbourne, Australia to learn more about what leads people to suspend. Mental As Everything Damon Smith has estimated that he has spent around 50 thousand hours of his life, so far, participating in absurd ritualistic behaviors associated with his obsessive Compulsive Disorder. With the help of his anxious friend, Adam, these two, Australian musicians, share, with original music, preposterous humor, and outlandish animations, the intricate and debilitating nature of what it is like to live and talk about mental illness in a world where it's ok to talk about a broken arm but not ok to talk about a broken mind.

Beyond the Burning: Voices from the East Gippsland fires

New Year's Eve, 2019. The sky turns bright red in Mallacoota, East Gippsland, as a monstrous fire tears towards the town. Through mobile phone footage and interviews, bushfire survivors explain what it felt like to be there and the impact on local wildlife. Afterwards, we see the scorched remains of a forest through the eyes of a renowned nature photographer. An ecologist revisits her favourite temperate rainforest – normally too wet to burn – and explains what's being lost as a hotter climate dries out the bush. In other parts of the ravaged landscape, wildlife carers offer shelter to injured animals, and a beekeeper explains how destructive logging practices have contributed to the frequency and intensity of the recent fires. From this tragedy emerge local solutions. Traditional Owners survey the regenerating bush for totem species, conduct cultural burns and begin the long process of taking back management of the land. And renewable energy companies install battery and solar systems to make remote communities more resilient to future climate disasters, accelerating the shift from coal and gas to clean energy. Told in the authentic voices of bushfire survivors, Beyond the Burning takes us through the tragedy of the 2019/20 Australian fires and out the other side, towards a vision of a better future.


9: Finding Creativity / The Healing

Finding Creativity: To be creative can be incredibly rewarding, yet the process of creativity can be arduous and fraught. Finding Creativity is a captivating exploration of the creative process through the eyes of established glass artist Holly Grace, celebrated chef and restaurant owner Coskun Uysal, talented singer/songwriter Henry Brett and accomplished social entrepreneur Jan Owen. The subjects' personal stories allow for an enlightening and informative look into how they came to work in creative fields and how they actively seek out inspiration. We hear firsthand accounts of their successes and struggles as they share their respective approaches to creativity. From this, we more deeply understand what it means to be creative and how all of us have the capacity to embrace it.

The Healing: The Healing is an inspiring documentary about transformation and getting a second chance in life. It explores a life-saving equine welfare program that brings traumatised ex-racehorses and traumatised military veterans together to help heal each other.


10: Cry of the Forests / Noongar:

Cry of the Forests: WA's south-west forests are part of one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and are recognised for their ability to capture and store carbon. They are vital to slowing run-away climate change yet instead of preserving them we are cutting them down at an alarming rate for charcoal, firewood and woodchips. Forests play a crucial role in the water cycle but the streams that once bubbled through these ecological communities are drying up and the critical habitat they provide for endangered species is shrinking.

Noongar: Through art, language, music, dance and ancient storytelling, Noongar Culture in the Southwest of Western Australia is set to thrive well into the future.


Tickets are now on sale for the Cinema Nova screenings: book your tickets now and save with a Festival Pass at

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