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TV DOCUMENTARY

From natural history, to archive footage, to outreach campaigns, a broad and diverse mix of documentaries appeared on Australian television screens in 2018/19.

Featuring mentor Guy Sebastian, the three-part ABC series Don’t Stop the Music from Artemis Media highlighted the transformative effects of teaching music in primary schools. It received joint funding from Screen Australia and Screenwest and was backed by Musica Viva and The Salvation Army. It resulted in an incredible outreach campaign, where audiences were encouraged to donate unused musical instruments for schools in need. Nearly 4,000 instruments ended up being donated by the public, plus cash donations to the Musica Viva Australia and the Salvos’ Just Brass programs.

Also on the ABC, the blue-chip series Magical Land of Oz aired from February 2019. Produced by Northern Pictures and narrated by Barry Humphries, it took audiences across the continent to discover the unique and unpredictable inhabitants that dwell within it.

On Foxtel, viewers were taken on the voyage across the Pacific some 250 years after Captain James Cook in The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook from Essential Media and Entertainment. While Australia in Colour, a landmark SBS series by Stranger Than Fiction Films, used cutting-edge technology to colourise black and white archival footage from pivotal moments in the nation’s history.

Also on SBS was Go Back to Where You Came From Live – a bold reinvention of Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder’s Go Back format. It featured a live studio event that sent eight Australians to Syria, South Sudan and Turkey to witness the global refugee crisis firsthand. ​​

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Two VR projects funded in 2017/18 premiered to acclaim in 2018/19: The Antarctica Experience VR launched at the Western Australian Museum to a sell-out audience before touring around the country, and Future Dreaming premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. Watch this space, with Screen Australia supporting five XR projects in 2018/19.

See appendix 3 for a full list of documentary projects approved for funding in 2018/19.