Australian International Documentary Conference Announces Programme

The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) has announced the full program of Sessions, Speakers, Screenings, Events, Decision Makers and Marketplace opportunities for the 2020 event, to be held at State Library Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, from Sunday 1 March to Wednesday 4 March.

As the documentary and factual sector continues to respond to shifts created by both new digital technologies and globalised markets, the AIDC program aims to offer a unique perspective that draws on collaboration and collectivity to combat challenges and find new creative pathways.

Launching its largest program since moving to Melbourne in 2016 – with 64 sessions, events and screenings – the AIDC 2020 theme, Collective Intelligence, coalesces program ideas around shared intelligence and collective efforts across craft, business, innovation and more.

“As we launch into a new decade, both the sessions and theme of this year’s conference have very much been designed in response to the environment we are currently living in and the one that we want in the future,” said AIDC’s CEO/Conference Director Alice Burgin. “Collective intelligence is in many ways a rejection of the business-as-usual mindset that is being disrupted by new technologies, new forms, new players and new audiences. We wanted to create a program that speaks to this but also to the power of true collaboration, all in a language that really challenges tokenism and sets a high bar.”

The conference includes seven Masters sessions with high-profile international guests speaking across producing, directing, creative producing, data storytelling and VR, including acclaimed directors Amy Berg (West of Memphis, The Case Against Adnan Sayed) and Feras Fayyad (The Cave, Last Men in Aleppo), producer John Smithson (Touching the Void, Sherpa) and the recently announced Gordon Quinn (Hoop Dreams, Minding the Gap).

In addition, the program uses its theme to introduce a strong program of local and international guests.

“This year, we really wanted to focus on how the collaborative process can positively influence the craft of a project, how ideas and creativity are born from both close collaborators but also some unlikely bedfellows,” said Ms. Burgin. 

Sessions include:

  • Emmy and Crystal Award-winning VR creator Lynette Wallworth (Collisions, Awavena), will give a presentation on collaboration in her work,  moderated by Jason Ryle (ImagineNATIVE, Canada).
  • The process of working across disciplines will be tackled by Stephen Page AO (Artistic Director Bangarra Dance Company) and Nel Minchin in conversation about the upcoming documentary Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra. (Presented by Screen NSW)
  • Director Maya Newell (In My Blood it Runs), collaborators Aaron Fa’osa and Paul Walton (Strait to the Plate), and the team from Australia’s award-winning Back to Back Theatre will also explore fresh approaches to storytelling and exploring worlds through diverse modes of collective thought. 

“From a business perspective, the idea of collective intelligence also speaks to the entrance of mega-giants like Disney+ and Apple into the market – encouraging us to keep looking at how new business models are forming, where coalitions and co-productions are on the rise, and what producers can do to make their dollar go further,” explains Ms. Burgin.

The business strand includes:

  • A special co-producing with Canada session leads the business strand, featuring Sue Dando (CBC), Daryl Talbot (WTFN), Simon Nasht (Smith & Nasht), Anne Pick (Reel to Reel Productions, Canada), Colleen Champ (Screen Australia) and Natasha Negrea (Canda).
  • Elissa McKeand (SkinnyDip Pictures, Foxtel), Jason Kimberley (Cool Australia) and Toni Malone (CJZ) will share their strategies on making money from the education sector, while on the same day Kanopy Founder, Olivia Humphries, shines the light on one of the world’s largest online education
  • streaming services.
  • The Pitch at First sight session presented by Nine Network will involve a live factual pitch with development feedback from Nine’s Adrian Swift, SBS’s Susie Jones and ABC’s Josie Mason-Campbell.
  • Debbie Cuell (Endemol Shine) and Ben Ulm (ITV Studios) discuss how they maintain story finesse (and sanity) when facing next-level production logistic in Niche to Broad, Big to Lean: Concepts of Scale in Factual, moderated by Sarah Thornton (Network Ten).

Other sessions will include:

  • Stan Grant (The Australian Dream) talks about the process of turning his powerful ‘Australian dream’ speech into one of last year’s most successful documentaries in Telling Stories that Matter (Presented by Screenrights).
  • In Preaching Beyond the Choir, hear from Scott Pape (The Barefoot Investor) and Wendy Moore (LifeStyle group), Damon Gameau and Anna Kaplan (2040), and Jacob Hickey (Blackfella Films) as they discuss strategies for engaging new audiences, cutting through the noise, and enacting social
  • change where it’s needed most. (Presented by Foxtel) 
  • In Real World Impact, meet the key people behind hit ABC shows that have delivered lasting impact campaigns – including Teri Calder (ABC), Debbie Cuell (Endemol Shine), Karina Holden (Northern Pictures), and Craig Reucassel (The War on Waste) – and also hear about new shows The Fight For
  • Planet A: The Climate Challenge and Big Weather (and How to Survive It). (Presented by ABC).
  • In The War on Press Freedom, we will join distinguished news, documentary and investigative journalists Gaven Morris (ABC) and Yaara Bou Melham (Illuminate Films) and media law expert Prash Naik in a discussion about current threats to press freedom and why public interest journalism should be protected. (Presented by ABC News) 
  • The award-winning Sarah Ferguson (Four Corners) will also talk about producing documentaries that use bold journalism to explore the most challenging issues of our time with ABC Commissioning Editor Stephen Oliver (Presented by ABC).

AIDC has also introduced three special Upskill Sessions, aimed at early-career practitioners to help develop their craft across writing documentary with Jen Peedom (Mountain), character development with award-winning director/producer Leo S. Chiang (Our Time Machine), and creative thinking with Marshmallow Laser Feast’s Robin McNicholas and producer Bridget Ikin (Sherpa).



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