Documentaries

Truth is definitely stranger than fiction in the Documentaries strand, which presents – and probes – the many facets of real life. From famous and not-so-famous faces to spectacular and far-flung places, these films are inspiring, blood-boiling, entertaining, educational, emotional and true.

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Aquarius

The age of Aquarius floods into Nimbin in this radical, love-fuelled documentary exploring the lasting impact of a 1970s counterculture crucible.

Dir. Wendy Champagne / 2024 / 82 mins / Australia / English
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Black Box Diaries

This daring work of first-person journalism charts the case that not only launched #MeToo in Japan but changed the country’s legal system for good.

Dir. Shiori Ito / 2024 / 104 mins / UK, Japan / Japanese
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Dahomey

As the restitution conversation gains global momentum, this striking Berlinale Golden Bear–winning documentary follows a stolen statue home.

Dir. Mati Diop / 2024 / 68 mins / France, Senegal / English, French
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Dale Frank – Nobody's Sweetie

The greatest look yet at a well-known artist very few have seen up close, as the titular visionary recluse invites us into his home.

Dir. Jenny Hicks / 2024 / 107 mins / Australia / English
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Daughters

From EPs Kerry Washington and Joel Edgerton, this film joins four girls as they reunite with their incarcerated fathers for the Daddy Daughter Dance.

Dir. Natalie Rae, Angela Patton / 2024 / 107 mins / USA / English
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Direct Action

Winner of the Berlinale’s Encounters Award for Best Film, this bold and vital documentary explores the militant activist community in France.

Dir. Guillaume Cailleau, Ben Russell / 2024 / 216 mins / Germany, France / French
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Ernest Cole: Lost and Found

Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) profiles the man who exposed apartheid in South Africa in this winner of the Cannes L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary.

Dir. Raoul Peck / 2024 / 106 mins / USA, France / English
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Every Little Thing

In this big-hearted documentary, a Los Angeles teacher takes time off to nurture injured hummingbirds and finds herself on an uplifting journey.

Dir. Sally Aitken / 2023 / 93 mins / Australia / English
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Fungi: Web of Life

Lose yourself in this immersive trip into the fascinating world of fungi, as narrated by Björk.

Dir. Gisela Kaufmann, Joseph Nizeti / 2023 / 45 mins / Australia / English
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Future Council

Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) takes eight kids on the ultimate school excursion: a road trip across Europe to seek solutions to the climate crisis.

Dir. Damon Gameau / 2024 / 80 mins / Netherlands / English
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Gaucho Gaucho

A Sundance-awarded film about an Argentine cowboy community, elevated by sublime monochrome cinematography and sweeping western-inspired imagery.

Dir. Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw / 2024 / 84 mins / Argentina / Spanish
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Grand Theft Hamlet

The show really must go on as two locked-down actors take Shakespeare to the least likely stage imaginable: the streets of Grand Theft Auto.

Dir. Pinny Grylls, Sam Crane / 2024 / 90 mins / UK / English
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I Shall Not Hate

This doc from the streets of Israel and Palestine charts a five-time Nobel-nominated doctor’s mission to turn personal tragedy into worldwide hope.

Dir. Tal Barda / 2024 / 95 mins / France, Canada / English, Arabic, Hebrew
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Immortals

Two activist-survivors navigate the aftermath of Iraq’s October 2019 protests in this extraordinary collaborative portrait of contemporary Iraq.

Dir. Maja Tschumi / 2024 / 94 mins / Switzerland, Iraq / Arabic
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Intercepted

A haunting psychological portrait of invasion, this Berlinale-awarded documentary covertly listens in as Russian troops call home.

Dir. Oksana Karpovych / 2024 / 93 mins / France, Canada, Ukraine / Russian, Ukrainian
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Left Write Hook

For eight survivors of childhood sexual abuse, a program that combines boxing and writing turns into a journey of recovery and friendship.

Dir. Shannon Owen / 2024 / 98 mins / Australia
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Like My Brother

From the Tiwi Islands to Melbourne and back again, four young women who seek to make it in elite sport must face uncertain futures.

Dir. Sal Balharrie, Danielle MacLean / 2024 / 93 mins / Australia / English, Tiwi
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Look Into My Eyes

Supporter and sceptic alike will be touched as seven psychics connect clients with the supernatural – or simply with what’s buried in their psyches.

Dir. Lana Wilson / 2023 / 108 mins / USA / English
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Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger

Hear Martin Scorsese wax lyrical about how the mesmerising films of two of Britain’s finest inspired his own adventures in cinema.

Dir. David Hinton / 2024 / 131 mins / UK / English
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Menus-Plaisirs – Les Troisgros

Frederick Wiseman’s 44th feature documentary turns the lens on the kitchens of a Michelin three-star French restaurant and the family that runs it.

Dir. Frederick Wiseman / 2023 / 240 mins / USA / English, French
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A New Kind of Wilderness

Winner of a Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, this film follows a family living off-grid and facing change in the wake of the unexpected.

Dir. Silje Evensmo Jacobsen / 2024 / 84 mins / Norway / English, Norwegian
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No Other Land

An impassioned and eye-opening piece of documentary activism by an Israeli–Palestinian film collective, awarded Best Documentary at the Berlinale.

Dir. Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham, Rachel Szor / 2024 / 96 mins / Norway, Palestine / English, Arabic, Hebrew
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Occupied City

This immersive, epic work of memorialisation from Oscar winner Steve McQueen uncovers WWII histories hidden in plain sight.

Dir. Steve McQueen / 2023 / 266 mins / USA, Netherlands, UK / English
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Queens of Concrete

Three Australian girls seek the ultimate success in the world of competitive skateboarding while sliding into an adolescence without handrails.

Dir. Eliza Cox / 2024 / 87 mins / Australia / English
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The Remarkable Life of Ibelin

Winner of two Sundance awards, this moving documentary traces a young man’s exploits in a virtual world amid the restrictions of his physical life.

Dir. Benjamin Ree / 2024 / 104 mins / Norway / English
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Rewards for the Tribe

An intimate and uplifting dance documentary that ponders human connection and perfection, featuring Chunky Move and Restless Dance Theatre.

Dir. Rhys Graham / 2023 / 90 mins / Australia / English
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The Ride Ahead

Samuel Habib expands on his Emmy-nominated short My Disability Roadmap with this filmed road trip seeking guidance on how to live a “bad-ass” life.

Dir. Samuel Habib, Dan Habib / 2024 / 97 mins / USA / English
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Scala!!!

Delirious, debaucherous and downright dangerous – the Scala played home to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll (and John Waters) in Thatcher-era London.

Dir. Jane Giles, Ali Catterall / 2023 / 96 mins / UK / English
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Secret Mall Apartment

Exec-produced by Jesse Eisenberg, this stranger-than-fiction doc recounts how a 2000s artist collective spent four years living in a shopping mall.

Dir. Jeremy Workman / 2024 / 92 mins / USA / English
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The Stimming Pool

Immerse yourself in a wildly imaginative, proudly neurodivergent world informed by autistic perspectives and perception.

Dir. The Neurocultures Collective, Steven Eastwood / 2024 / 70 mins / UK / English
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Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story

A nuanced and inspirational account of the life-changing legacy of leading man turned disability activist Christopher Reeve.

Dir. Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui / 2024 / 106 mins / USA / English
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Twilight Time

A profile of Australian academic, agitator and surveillance expert Des Ball – the man who counselled the US against nuclear escalation in the 1970s.

Dir. John Hughes / 2024 / 89 mins / Australia / English
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Two Strangers Trying Not to Kill Each Other

The complex relationship between two married artists is laid bare in this searing and joyful portrait of love and creativity in autumn.

Dir. Jacob Perlmutter, Manon Ouimet / 2023 / 100 mins / USA, UK, Denmark / English, French, Italian
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Voice

An inspirational insider’s look at a youth-led cross-country road trip to gather grassroots support for the Australian Indigenous Voice referendum.

Dir. Krunal Padhiar, Semara Jose / 2024 / 92 mins / Australia / English
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Welcome Space Brothers

Hop aboard as this engrossing film takes you to the world of the Unarians: cosmic visionaries who believe in higher planes, therapy and movie-making.

Dir. Jodi Wille / 2023 / 100 mins / USA / English
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You Should Have Been Here Yesterday

Be swept up in this homage to the birth of Aussie surf culture compiled from 200 hours of home movies, iconic documentaries and restored 16mm footage.

Dir. Jolyon Hoff / 2024 / 79 mins / Australia / English