Documentaries

Truth is definitely stranger than fiction with MIFF 2019’s Documentaries, offering the best of real life. From famous and not-so-famous faces to spectacular and far-flung places, these films are inspiring, blood-boiling, educational, eye-opening, emotional, entertaining and true.

5B

5B

The AIDS crisis inflicts heartbreak but pioneering nurses inspire hope in two-time Academy Award nominee Dan Krauss’s documentary, which he co-directed with Academy Award-winner Paul Haggis.

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary

Truth completely unravels in a wild meta-documentary about a dying comedy trickster and the director he torments.

Aquarela

Aquarela

“Victor Kossakovsky’s bombastic documentary captures the raw power of water … an experience of shock and awe, as well as wonder.” – Screen Daily

Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World

Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World

After mainstream media ‘fake news’ scandals and cost-cutting, now citizen journalists are breaking the world’s most compelling stories.

The Biggest Little Farm

The Biggest Little Farm

The Biggest Little Farm feels like fresh air for the soul … an inspirational story of one couple who made an impact by entirely rethinking their ecological footprint.” – Variety

Capital in the 21st Century

Capital in the 21st Century

Thomas Piketty’s landmark bestseller Capital in the 21st Century has sold millions of copies around the world. Its potential audience is about to explode again, thanks to this accessibly entertaining and enlightening film adaptation.

Chinese Portrait

Chinese Portrait

Chronicling the state of the nation one carefully arranged image at a time, the first feature-length documentary from Wang Xiaoshuai (Red Amnesia, MIFF 2015; 11 Flowers, MIFF 2012) provides an illuminating window into China’s recent history.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

Cold Case Hammarskjöld

“This could either be the world’s biggest murder mystery, or the world’s most idiotic conspiracy theory.” – Mads Brügger

Collingwood: From the Inside Out

Collingwood: From the Inside Out

From Marcus Cobbledick, co-director of the MIFF 2017 Audience Award-winning documentary All For One, and Josh Cable comes this insightful, intimate look at Collingwood Football Club as it rebuilds itself and aims for glory over the course of the 2018 season.

The Cordillera of Dreams

The Cordillera of Dreams

Winning a Special Mention for Cannes’ coveted Golden Eye award for Documentary, the latest from Chilean master Patricio Guzmán completes his superb trilogy of personal and political reflection on his country’s landscape.

Dark Suns

Dark Suns

Winner of the FACT Award at CPH:DOX, Dark Suns is an epic investigation into decades of cartel-related violence and murder in Mexico and one of the most ambitious, damning and masterful documentaries of the year.

Each and Every Moment

Each and Every Moment

Nicolas Philibert has made a career out of calmly documenting France’s public institutions. In Each and Every Moment, he turns his camera on nurses in training.

Evelyn

Evelyn

Oscar-winning filmmaker Orlando von Einseidel turns the lens on himself and the ghosts that have haunted his family.

For Sama

For Sama

"A rare window into a woman's experience of the Syrian conflict … Simple in concept and shattering in execution, blending hard-headed reportage with unguarded personal testimony, it’s you-are-there cinema of the most literal order." – Variety

Friedkin Uncut

Friedkin Uncut

“A startling aperture onto the bright, witty, original mind of a man who isn’t afraid to make unconventional leaps and rather dotes on controversy and hell-raising.” – Hollywood Reporter

Halston

Halston

“An intimate, clear-eyed portrait of 1970s A-list fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick … Tcheng’s film is more of a celebration than a lamentation, saluting a superstar designer whose life was a triumph of style and substance.” – Screen Daily

The Hidden City

The Hidden City

A subterranean symphony that takes us deep below the modern metropolis, The Hidden City transforms the labyrinth of tunnels and sewers beneath Madrid into an otherworldly fantasia.

Honeyland

Honeyland

A multiple award winner at Sundance, Honeyland is a visually sumptuous look at the endangered tradition of Macedonian wild beekeeping, the tenacious woman keeping it alive and the powerful environmental message her efforts have for us all.

In My Blood It Runs

In My Blood It Runs

Four years after Gayby Baby (MIFF 2015), Maya Newell crafts another powerful, essential portrait of Australian youth, putting the plight of the Northern Territory’s Indigenous children in the spotlight.

Jawline

Jawline

Tennessee teen Austyn Tester chases his version of the American dream one like and live-stream at a time in this eye-opening exploration of today’s influencer culture – this year’s Sundance Film Festival Breakthrough Filmmaker winner.

Leftover Women

Leftover Women

Finding Mr Right has a deadline in marriage-obsessed China

The Leunig Fragments

The Leunig Fragments

For more than five decades, Michael Leunig has opined on the state of the nation, one distinctive drawing at a time. In this lively documentary directed by MIFF Accelerator alumnus Kasimir Burgess (Fell, MIFF 2014), the cartoonist puts down his pen and shares his own story.

Los Reyes

Los Reyes

Get up close and personal with two adorable stray dogs in this unusual documentary, which won the Special Jury Award at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

Machine

Machine

Infiltrating everything from transport to military to healthcare – among an ever-growing list of fields – artificial intelligence is no longer merely the realm of science fiction. In a world where machines are fast becoming smarter than people, what makes humanity special? And what does our increasing reliance upon and subservience to technology mean for our future?

Maiden

Maiden

“An all-women crew’s entry in a fabled around-the-world yacht race gets a lively retelling in this exciting, inspiring documentary.” — Variety

Martha: A Picture Story

Martha: A Picture Story

Winner of the Sydney Film Festival Documentary Audience Award, Martha: A Picture Story is Australian filmmaker Selina Miles’s illuminating look at a remarkable figure: intrepid American photojournalist Martha Cooper, known for her trailblazing documentation of street art and graffiti culture.

Meeting Gorbachev

Meeting Gorbachev

The inimitable Werner Herzog presents a disarmingly personal conversation with the man who drew back the Iron Curtain, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Memory — The Origins of Alien

Memory — The Origins of Alien

Forty years after the release of Ridley Scott’s Alien, why are we still so captivated by this game-changing film?

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

In 1988, Merata Mita was the first Māori woman to write and (solo) direct a narrative feature film in New Zealand. In 2019, she remains the only Māori woman to do so. This is her story, as told by her youngest son.

Midnight Family

Midnight Family

Meet a family of unregistered paramedics cruising Mexico City’s streets in this frenetic eye-opener – winner of Best Documentary at the Hong Kong and Guadalajara film festivals, and Sundance’s Special Jury Award for cinematography

Monrovia, Indiana

Monrovia, Indiana

“Frederick Wiseman’s new film may just change the way you look at small-town America.” – The Washington Post

Morgana

Morgana

In her late forties, Morgana Muses was an unhappy housewife in Albury. By 50, she was a feminist pornography icon. It has been quite the ride, with Melbourne filmmakers Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess journeying from rural Victoria to Berlin’s BDSM scene to tell this unique and empowering story.

Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy

Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy

She’s been called the Mick Jagger of Mexican cuisine, but for nonagenarian chef and activist Diana Kennedy cooking is more than a mere profession: it’s an act of revolutionary culinary anthropology. And yes, you are making your guacamole wrong.

One Child Nation

One Child Nation

Winner of this year’s Sundance Film Festival Documentary Grand Jury Prize, this eye-opening film lays bare China’s population-shaping policy, the accompanying propaganda and the multi-generational impact that’s still being felt today.

On the President's Orders

On the President's Orders

“The searing story of President Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war.” – We Are Moving Stories

Our Time Machine

Our Time Machine

This Tribeca award winner follows renowned Chinese artist Maleonn’s quest to recreate history on stage before his father’s memory fades.

Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow

A unique and arresting examination of Scientology, straight from the mouths of those within and those escaping the church.

Picture Character

Picture Character

It’s the 21st century’s lingua franca: a global pictorial alphabet that has turned our phones into a hotbed of smileys, eggplants and happy poops. Picture Character is the fascinating inside story of emojis, the world’s favourite conlang (constructed language).

Present.Perfect.

Present.Perfect.

“Shengze Zhu’s Rotterdam Film Festival Tiger Award winner looks at the culture of live-streaming in China … [and] raises important questions about the politics of viewership, the documentary form’s complex ties to reality and about human relationships in a digitally connected world.” – CineVue

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

For more than 30 years, Marion Stokes recorded everything on her TV: every single minute of every channel in America, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But who was Marion Stokes and why did she dedicate her life to something so utterly obsessive?

The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion

The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion

“The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion highlights the hidden female figures that have curated and shaped hip-hop’s dynamic streetwear and ultimately swayed the entire fashion industry.” – Vibe

The Rest

The Rest

Ai Weiwei fills his latest affecting, insightful and highly topical documentary with the voices, faces and bodies caught in Europe’s refugee crisis.

Ridge

Ridge

A mesmerising Scandi experience, this award-winning blend of documentary and drama recalls Carlos Reygadas and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Sakawa

Sakawa

An arresting vision of the Ghanian scammers behind the computer keyboards.

Scheme Birds

Scheme Birds

Winner of Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, Scheme Birds is an utterly unforgettable work of cinema verité, a penetrating and compassionate account of teenage life at Scotland’s forgotten margins.

Seahorse

Seahorse

“A nuanced, tender look at the life of trans man Freddy McConnell and his struggle to conceive and deliver his own child … Director Jeanie Finlay extends sincere empathy towards someone who won’t let gender get in the way of heeding the basic human impulse to create and nurture new life.” – The Guardian

Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows

A Sundance Audience Award winner, Sea of Shadows is a riveting eco-thriller documenting the fight to save the world’s most endangered whale from a high-stakes black market involving Mexican cartels and the Chinese mafia.

The Seer and the Unseen

The Seer and the Unseen

The future of the planet is at stake, and one woman won’t give up without a fight – for both Iceland’s volcanic plains, and for the country’s elves.

Talking About Trees

Talking About Trees

Winner of both Documentary and Audience awards at this year’s Berlinale, Talking About Trees is a look at four retired Sudanese filmmakers attempting to revive the cinematic experience in a country determined to suppress it.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

In commemoration of the late Toni Morrison, MIFF is proud to screen this candid new biodoc from award-winning filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, direct from this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Travelling Film Showcase - In My Blood It Runs

Travelling Film Showcase - In My Blood It Runs

Four years after Gayby Baby (MIFF 2015), Maya Newell crafts another powerful, essential portrait of Australian youth, putting the plight of the Northern Territory’s Indigenous children in the spotlight.

The Trial

The Trial

Composed exclusively from real courtroom footage shot in 1930, The Trial finds Ukrainian filmmaker and MIFF regular Sergei Loznitsa giving audiences a front-row seat to a chilling Soviet show trial.

Untouchable

Untouchable

The catalyst that launched #MeToo in global consciousness, the fall of Hollywood producing titan Harvey Weinstein is told through the testimony of the women he allegedly targeted in this powerful and damning documentary.

Vision Portraits

Vision Portraits

In this deeply personal documentary, award-winning filmmaker Rodney Evans contemplates his loss of vision alongside the artistic processes of three other artists.

Walking On Water

Walking On Water

A behind-the-curtain peek at the creation of maverick artist Christo’s monumental Floating Piers installation in Italy.

Watergate

Watergate

An epic retelling of the loss of a nation’s innocence, from Academy Award-winning director Charles Ferguson.

Watson

Watson

For 50 years, Sea Shepherd co-founder Captain Paul Watson has been fighting to save the world’s oceans, and producer-turned-director Lesley Chilcott (It Might Get Loud, MIFF 2008; An Inconvenient Truth, MIFF 2006) documents with the same passion as her subject.

What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?

What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?

The breakout hit of the Venice Film Festival – where it took home four awards – What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire? is an exquisite portrait of life in New Orleans and the people making their way on the black side of America’s race divide.

You Don't Nomi

You Don't Nomi

You Don’t Nomi examines the complex legacy of Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls and in the process delivers a smart, well-made crowd-pleaser … Whatever your opinion on Showgirls, there has to be something to it if it inspires a film this good.” – The Pop Break