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Melbourne Documentary Film Festival 2021

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See the hottest international documentaries on-demand

Discover the very best documentaries on the international festival circuit online and nationwide this July! Pre-order now at and take advantage of exclusive package deals.

This year's Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is set to showcase an exciting curated program with feature film documentaries on-demand and direct from prestigious international film festivals from 1 to 31 July. Selected films will then screen at Cinema Nova from 8th to 17th September 2021.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is guaranteed to provide a rich array and engaging mix of documentaries that will inspire, influence and provoke. Check out our top picks below:

  • A Glitch in the Matrix

    Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles this question "are we living in a simulation?" with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his search for the answer.

  • AWARE - Glimpses of Consciousness

    What is consciousness? Is it in all living beings? Why are we predisposed for mystical experience? And what happens when we die? After centuries of virtual silence, there has been an explosion of research into consciousness. Scientists are confronting the "Big Questions", cutting a window into a realm previously held by philosophy and religion.

  • Bleeding Audio

    Told through the eyes of quirky, charming, and humble bandmates: Shawn, Jon, Matt, and Justin, Bleeding Audio is an intimate portrait detailing The Matches' promising career, defeating break up, and
    inspiring reunion, as they reflect on what success truly means for musicians in today's digital industry.

  • By Rook or Left Hook - The Story of Chessboxing

    In 2003, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh became the first World Champion of Chessboxing. This brain-busting combination of alternating rounds of chess and boxing was in fact an art performance calling for more balance in a world of extremes, and the audience reaction was so electric that it inspired Rubingh to push it as a real sport.

  • Claydream

    A modern-day Walt Disney, Will Vinton picked up a ball of clay and saw a world of potential.

    Known as the "Father of Claymation," Vinton revolutionized the animation business during the 1980s and '90s. But after 30 years of being the unheralded king of clay, Will Vinton's carefully sculpted American dream came crumbling down at the hands of an outside investor, Nike's Phil Knight.

  • Coogan's Way

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, NYC's Washington Heights neighbourhood was considered the epicentre of America's crack cocaine epidemic. Amid gang wars, street riots and growing tensions between citizens and police - the community needed a safe space, a political hub, a cultural centre and a home-away-from-home.

  • Dead Man's Switch a crypto mystery

    $215 million in cash and cryptocurrency suddenly went missing on November 30th, 2018, when 30-year old Gerald Cotten, CEO of QuadrigaCX, one of North America's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, died very suddenly in India - or did he? He'd kept many secrets, among them the key to the wallets that contained all the money - or had he scammed it all? Dead Man's Switch: a crypto mystery is a feature-length documentary that tracks a tantalising and still unsolved story of deception, hope, greed, corruption, and the potential of unregulated currency to be used for both good and evil.

  • Don't Let The Devil Take Another Day

    Don't Let The Devil Take Another Day tells the heartfelt, human story of one of Britain's most-loved artists who, when confronted with a revelation that had threatened to undermine his career and future music-making, rediscovers his distinctive voice and experiences a remarkable 2019.

  • Dope is Death

    The story of how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of Tupac Shakur, along with fellow Black Panthers and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America in 1973 - a visionary project eventually deemed too dangerous to exist in America.

  • Enemies of the State

    An American family becomes entangled in a bizarre web of secrets and lies when their hacker son is targeted by the U.S. government, making them all Enemies of the State.

  • Holgut

    The Siberian permafrost is melting. Ancient bones rise from the ground and wild animals seem to have disappeared. Three Yakutians venture into the vast wilderness on different quests. Villager Roman and city boy Kyym hunt for a rare reindeer while not so far away, scientist Semyon scourges the permafrost for a viable cell of the mammoth, which he needs to clone the extinct animal. In the midst of an ongoing mass-extinction of fauna and flora, of a Siberian Ivory Rush, and at the dawn of de-extinction, a contemporary myth unfolds.

    While Roman, Kyym and Semyon close in on their goals, both the frozen earth that they walk on and reality itself melt into another state. Holgut boldly combines elements of fiction and documentary and manoeuvrers effortlessly from captivating reality to visual poetry. Down the mammoth-hole, science fiction seems to become reality and reality seems to become a myth.

  • Holy Frit

    Tim Carey is a talented, yet unknown Los Angeles-based artist. He is also a bit of a jackass, who uses wit and humour to charm you into forgiving his flaws. As a Hail Mary, Tim and the company he works for, Judson Studios, bluff their way into winning the commission to make the world's largest stained-glass window of its kind, beating out 60 companies from around the globe. The problem is, Tim has no idea how to make his complicated design.

  • Joycut

    Joycut, a totally independent Italian band, is invited by Robert Smith himself to take part in his Meltdown program. A festival that will bear his name, his signature. A program that will become memorable, breaking all records and competing for the Music Week Awards as the best festival existing in the world.

    A stellar lineup in helping: a selection of artists dear to the curator, defined as able to make the history of an entire generation: Nine Inch Nails, The Psychedelic Furs, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, Mogwai, Deftones, Placebo, The Cure [Curætion25].

  • Killing Escobar

    The true story of the British mercenaries who attempted to assassinate Pablo Escobar in 1989.

  • Me to Play

    Dan Moran and Chris Jones are professional actors who share six decades of acting experience. Now they share Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder that disables the brain cells that help control movement and balance. It affects all the elements essential to an actor's craft. They nonetheless put up an off-Broadway production of Samuel Beckett's "Endgame," a challenging piece of theater that makes the case that "there's nothing funnier than unhappiness."

  • Miracle Fishing: Kidnapped Abroad

    The story of a father's kidnapping as told through the 1994 video diaries of his son, the film's Director Miles Hargrove.

  • My Rembetika Blues - A film about love, life and Greek music

    Rembetika music or the Greek blues is a music born of exile and the streets. Developing its roots from the mass migration of people in the early twentieth century, filmmaker M. Zournazi traces the journey of her forebears from Smyrna in Turkey to Sydney Australia but discovers more than family history, she finds out how music connects people during times of struggle and crises. By weaving together different stories of music and migration, she documents experiences that are often left out of the chronicles of history.

  • The Edge of Existence

    The Edge of Existence is a long-format documentary, set in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti, that sets out to uncover and document the untold story of human-wildlife conflict in Africa. Human-wildlife conflict is a global issue that has reached crisis levels, threatening the survival of both humans and wild animals.

    There are communities living alongside wildlife in some of the last remaining wilderness areas on earth. These wilderness areas have started disappearing because of expanding human development, deforestation, and depletion of natural resources, which has left humans and wildlife living in closer proximity than ever before. The conflict arises as a result of the competition for limited space and resources between communities and wildlife. The situation is dire, and if it is not addressed urgently, it will have a catastrophic effect on the environment and on communities that live alongside wild animals daily.

  • This Good Earth

    It is a film about soil and climate change, land and species destruction and the long food change and disease. Underlying it is the human right to sufficient, culturally appropriate, healthy food.

  • The Last Horns of Africa

    With unprecedented access, The Last Horns of Africa is a gripping and intimate look at the current rhino poaching war raging across Africa. We follow the journeys of two conservation heroes who put their lives on the line to protect the rhino in their care, all the while a top-secret, covert operation endeavours to bring down South Africa's most notorious rhino poaching syndicates.

  • The Road Up

    The Road Up follows four participants in Cara, a Chicago job-training program, as they seek to make the long journey from rock bottom to stable employment. Throughout, they are guided, goaded, and challenged by their impassioned mentor, Mr. Jesse, whose own complicated past drives him to help others find hope in the face of poverty, addiction, homelessness, and trauma.

    Taken together, their stories create a powerful mosaic of the struggles millions of Americans face every day in a precarious and unforgiving economy, the daunting and often interconnected challenges that prevent so many from getting - and keeping - a job. Because when all that's behind you is wreckage, and everything in front is an obstacle, how do you find the road up?

  • We Are Conjola

    Director and film-maker Ash Brennan lost his house in the Conjola Park Bushfire which nearly killed his brother and many others who stayed to fight. From a Perth hotel room, Ash saw the first image of what used to be his house in the background of a news reporter.

    After almost being wiped off the map, a traumatised community waited for help. But it never came. Conjola was abandoned and left for dead. Local artists then started creating. They needed to heal. It gave the community hope and solidified their journey to recovery, together. Ash hopes that this film will be part of that recovery

  • The Wisdom of Trauma

    Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds. Dr. Maté gives us a new vision: a trauma-informed society in which parents, teachers, physicians, policy-makers and legal personnel are not concerned with fixing behaviors, making diagnoses, suppressing symptoms and judging, but seek instead to understand the sources from which troubling behaviors and diseases spring in the wounded human soul.


    Early bird discounts are now available at until 1 July 2021.

    View the full 2021 program and plan your virtual festival experience at

    For all the latest on the festival, including masterclasses, please see, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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    by Vanessa on 08/06/2018
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