Antenna Documentary Film Festival

Film, Film festivals
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A small child holds a sing reading 'This is Aleppo - What's Justice' while standing in a crumbling building.
Photograph: Waad Al-Kateab

Time Out says

This year’s program has doubled its scope – experience more stories and learn how to tell them across 11 days of documentary screenings and masterclasses

The annual Antenna Documentary Film Festival highlights the most creative, insightful documentaries that have been produced in the last year. For its 9th year, Sydneysiders can get stuck into the festival’s largest ever program, with 80 films screening over 11 days of investigative cinema this October.

The program includes a series of Q&A’s, talks by local and international filmmakers and the full-day industry forum that’ll help aspiring filmmakers perfect their lingering docco projects, DocTalk. You’ll need to submit your film plan before September 13 to be considered for the day of networking and practical advice about storytelling, editing, marketing and sales strategies.

If you’re more about watching than doing, keep an eye on the growing program. There are some intriguing real life stories, like the opening night production Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin by veteran director Werner Herzog. The story investigates nomadic life, belonging and connection, with Herzog retracing the adventures and inspirations of prolific travel writer Bruce Chatwin – Herzog’s now deceased friend and collaborator – from Patagonia to Wales and the Australian outback.

In The Disappearance of My Mother, Italian director Beniamino Barrese seeks to understand and stay connected to his mother, Benedetta Barzini. She was a supermodel and muse to Dali and Warhol in the 1960s, a radical feminist in the ’70s and now, at the age of 75, simply wants to retreat from life and the expectations imposed upon her. If you’re feeling the pressure of housing affordability, see Push. Director Fredrik Gertten investigates the global housing crisis, following a UN Special Rapporteur as she investigates the big players making secure accommodation an unattainable goal for many people around the globe.

War is often seen through a male lens, but award-winning documentary For Sama provides intimate insights into the impacts and interpretation of conflict for women. Structured as a letter to her daughter, Syrian mother – and the cinematic piece’s director Waad al-Kateab – shares her experience of the uprising in Aleppo, from the joys of falling in love to getting married and giving birth, to the epic loses and sacrifices experienced across five years of war.

Another first for the festival is Doc In the Park: a series of outdoor live concerts and screenings. The Strange Tenants – a Melbourne based ska band who pioneered the genre in Australia in the 1980s – will be performing before a screening of the docco in which they star, Ska’d For Life. It takes a deep dive into the politically strident group and the genre, which is a mix of R’n’B, Amercian Jazz and Carribeana calypso music that originated in Jamaica.

You can purchase tickets to individual shows, or commit to a marathon of edifying entertainment with the five, ten and 20 film passes. Keep an eye out for more screening and venue announcements closer to the festival.

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