25 July 2019

Gayby Baby director brings new hit feature to documentary festival

| Ian Bushnell
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Dujuan and his mother from In My Blood It Runs. Photos: Supplied.

Australian filmmaker Maya Newell will be in Canberra for the screening of her new hit feature made in Alice Springs at the Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival starting next week at Dendy Cinemas.
Known to many Canberrans for her first feature Gayby Baby (2015) about growing up with same-sex parents, Newell spent three years filming and working with the Indigenous community in Alice Springs for In My Blood It Runs, which tells the story of Dujuan, a 10-year-old boy, who despite speaking three languages and being respected as a young healer is ‘failing’ at school.
As he comes under increasing scrutiny of welfare and police, his family rally to find a way to stop him becoming another statistic.
The film premiered at Hot Docs Festival in Toronto earlier this year and Dujuan and his family travelled to Canada to attend.
Newell worked very closely with the Arrente/Garrwa family that supports Dujuan and is planning an impact campaign, where the film will be screened as a starter for discussion about Indigenous education.
Joining her in Canberra for the screening on 2 August will be the film’s Indigenous producer Larissa Behrendt.

Maya Newell with 10-year-old Dujuan.

In My Blood It Runs is the Australian representative in a collection of top documentaries selected from around the world by festival director and co-director Deborah Kingsland and new co-director Hannah de Feyter.
Ms Kingsland said that while the 13 documentaries cover some challenging subjects such as climate change, environment and human rights, they are all great stories told in compelling and innovative ways.
The main festival takes place from 31 July to 4 August and then the top 10 films are repeated in the following two weeks. The opening night gala on 31 July includes international filmmaker guests, ambassadors, five-star catering and a full buffet dinner served with complimentary drinks before and after the screening.
The opening night feature, Honeyland (North Macedonia 2019) cleaned up at the Sundance Film Festival and tells the story of Hatidze, the last wild beekeeper in Europe and her struggle to save her bees.

Life among the wild bees in Honeyland.

Co-directed by Ljubo-Stefanov and 25 year old Tamara Kotevska, the small crew of six worked and lived with each other for those three years in almost unbearable life conditions, in a village without roads, electricity, running water or available food, bitten by bees and fleas in a +40C, or in frost and cold down to -20c.
This is typical of the incredibly dedicated filmmakers who create these top-notch documentaries.
“It is, of the hundreds of films we saw to make a selection this year, honestly the most beautiful film I saw this year. The story is a gift from the documentary gods. The landscape is stunning, the photography sublime,” says Hannah de Feyter.
Another guest of the festival is 25-year-old Luke Lorentzen, whose first film Midnight Family has made a big international splash.
Lorentzen spent the best part of three years in the back of a private ambulance in Mexico City to bring us this high octane family story. With only 45 government ambulances for a city of nine million, the private ambulance service is booming and cut-throat.
The stars of the movie are the Ochoa family who are always on the brink of being broke because they are too kind.

Sea Shepherd’s Andrea Crosta searching for Chinese mafia in Tijuana. Photo: National Geographic.

Other documentaries include:

Sea of Shadows – A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in this riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller and winner of the Sundance audience award. “Sea of Shadows is completely constructed as a thriller, an eco-thriller. Sea Shepherd is in the Sea of Cortez taking on illegal fishermen and Mexican cartels threatening the existence of the smallest porpoise in the world.
The Biggest Little Farm uses the idea of a children’s story to document how a Californian couple and their dog decide to leave the city and build a sustainable farm. They discover they don’t know anything about farming and we learn, along with them. It’s a great family film – full of lovable animal characters and it’s just one of several Oscar contenders in the program.

A scene from The Biggest Little Farm.

Anthropocene is a visual journey looking at the impact of humans on the earth – bright green lithium lakes in Chile, Venice under water, the biggest mines in the world. The superb cinematography makes them look incredibly beautiful, but it also makes you think.
One Child Nation is the story of a woman, a member of the One Child Generation, who has her first baby and goes back to China to talk to her mother and her family and uncovers the untold story of this massive social experiment.
There are also extraordinary stories of older feisty women – 83-year-old Letizia Battaglia who fearlessly documented the crimes of the Sicilian Mafia for 30 years in Shooting the Mafia and the completely extraordinary Lea Tsemel, the Israeli human rights lawyer who brushes aside death threats to defend Palestinians in the controversial Advocate.
For more information and the full program go here.

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