Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

All documentaries

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Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise 2005

Western imagination has transformed the spiritual hula dance of traditional Polynesian society into a (male) fantasy presenting the Polynesian woman as beautiful and exotic.

The Hungry Miles 1955

The Hungry Miles covers more historical ground than the WWF Film Unit’s earlier works and they regarded it as one of their most significant accomplishments.

Hunt Angels 2006

This dramatised documentary is about the life of 1930s filmmakers Rupert Kathner and Alma Brooks who were passionate about bringing Australian stories to the cinema.

Hypsi: the Forest Gardener 1998

In this natural history of the smallest kangaroo, we learn that during summer, when food is abundant, the testes of the musky rat-kangaroo increase in size.

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The Ice Capped Jungle 1993

The five climbers of Puncak Jaya were led by author Lincoln Hall. Hall was left to die on Mt Everest in 2006 but was later found – hallucinating and frost-bitten, but alive.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1984

The film follows the lives of a group of men who have bonded through their addiction to alcohol.

Inauguration of the Commonwealth 1901

This is possibly the first feature-length documentary made in Australia and the first Australian film to use multi-camera coverage.

The Inlanders 1949

The Inlanders comes from a tradition of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking that presents the outback as a harsh and hostile terrain to be overcome.

In Limbo 2002

Australian lawyer Hoi Trinh attempts to secure citizenship for 2,000 Vietnamese 'boat people’. Thirty-seven families are resettled, the rest remain in limbo.

The Inner City Tape 1974

‘This is our story. The story of our city, our people, our communities.’ This is an example of the work of the community video movement of the 1970s.

Into the Shadows 2009

A documentary examining the problems of the Australian film industry in the early 21st century.

The Isabellas: The Long March 1995

Political events in China are humanised through refugee Chen Xing Liang, with his softly spoken determination to live in a democracy.

Island Fettlers 2006

In the 1960s, Torres Strait Islander men moved to the Pilbara for work and stayed on. Island Fettlers starkly contrasts two cultures – visually, physically and aurally.

I Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan 2004

Milligan’s affection for Australia, particularly the suburb of Woy Woy which he quips is a great place to commit suicide, had a significant impact on his life.

It’s Ruth: Ruth Cracknell, Actor 1994

It’s Ruth begins as a romp with Ruth as Maggie Beare through some of the zaniest scenes of Mother and Son, and ends with her as Winnie in Happy Days.

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Jabe Babe: A Heightened Life 2005

This imaginative documentary tells the story of a dominatrix with Marfan syndrome. It examines Jabe’s experiences in foster care and questions society’s obsession with perfection and conformity.

Jabiluka 1997

This film offers Indigenous, scientific and economic perspectives on the issue of mining uranium at Jabiluka.

Jewel of the Pacific 1932

In this 1932 travelogue shot and narrated by Frank Hurley, rat tails bring a reward of sixpence each and Lord Howe Island locals join the hunt for the pests.

Jimmy Little’s Gentle Journey 2006

Jimmy Little’s softly softly style came under scrutiny during the heyday of 1970s Indigenous politics.

Joe Leahy’s Neighbours 1988

This was an excellent opportunity to make a contemporary film about the Papua New Guinea highlands and explore the society forming in the wake of Western contact.

The Joys of the Women 1993

As a teenager, singer–songwriter Kavisha Mazzella rejected her Italian heritage, but now wants to keep a dying music tradition alive by recording and performing it.

Jubilee and Beyond 1977

Eighteen thousand schoolchildren greet Her Majesty the Queen in 1977, giving a sense of the relationship between Australia and the UK at this time.

Just Peanuts 1954

Following the warm reception this film about peanuts received, Kingsford Smith became a successful and prolific producer of over 300 sponsored films and commercials.

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Karli Jalangu – Boomerang Today 2004

The making of the number seven boomerang is not a hurried process, but measured and multifaceted. Every step of the procedure has meaning.

Kemira: Diary of a Strike 1984

Tom Zubrycki made the documentary on the run, following events as they happened and creating a 'diary’ of each passing day as the story unfolded.

A Kid Called Troy 1993

This is the story of the last year of 8-year-old Troy’s life as he lives with AIDS and struggles to be brave in the face of pain and death.

Kimberley Cops 2001

Stories of rogue crocodiles, tipped cattle trucks and search-and-rescue operations for lost tourists emphasise the dangers and harsh realities of life in the outback.

Kylie Tennant 1986

Determined to experience at firsthand the lives of her characters, Tennant travelled alone in her buggy, camping with swagmen and destitute families.

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Land Bilong Islanders 1989

A significant historic record of proceedings in the Queensland Supreme Court regarding the Murray Islanders’ native title claim over their traditional lands.

Land Mines – A Love Story 2004

Shah planted landmines as a soldier then became the victim of a mine. His wife, Habiba, lost a leg to a mine and regrets that she can no longer wear pretty shoes.

Land of the Apocalypse 1991

The traditional custodians of Kakadu National Park battle to protect an important sacred site from mining exploitation.

Land Short of People 1947

A narrative of white settlement pioneering against the odds – the tyranny of distance, the harsh conditions, and the massive landscapes.

The Last Circus? 1993

Produced in 1993, this rousing plea for the surivival of the circus offers an argument to counter the claims of animal liberationists that circus animals are cruelly treated.

The Last Husky 1993

Husky dog teams have served on the Mawson Base in the Antarctic for fifty years. The documentary records the last dogs to be used there and their journey to a new home in Minnesota in the USA.

Last Mail from Birdsville: The Story of Tom Kruse 2000

As a result of the 1954 film Back of Beyond, Tom Kruse and the historic last mail run drew considerable media attention and inspired the making of this film.

The Last Man Hanged 1993

The story of Ronald Ryan, last man hanged in Australia, features some of Australia’s best-known actors and interviews with the real-life people involved.

The Last of the Nomads 1997

A feature-length documentary about an expedition to find the last suriving nomadic couple, who broke tribal marriage laws and fled into the Gibson desert.

Last Plane Out of Berlin 1999

At ten years of age, Sidney Cotton designed an aircraft. At 18, this Queensland country boy built a car he called 'the Cotton’.

The Last True Action Hero 1995

This frank and delightful documentary follows young trainee firefighters as they experience the dangers and challenges of their chosen profession.

The Last Whale 1994

Credited as being influential in the IWC’s 1994 decision to create the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, this film is a passionate plea to save whales from extinction.

Least Said, Soonest Mended 1999

As a 15 year-old, Val had a daughter out of wedlock and was labelled 'a slut’ by her parents. After 25 years, Val contacts her daughter.

Letters to Ali 2004

One family’s willingness to embrace 15-year-old Ali stands in contrast to the media’s portrayal of asylum seekers as ‘terrorists’ or ‘people smugglers’.

The Life and Times of Margaret Whitlam 1993

Wife of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Margaret Whitlam recalls the day that the Governor-General John Kerr sacked her husband on 11 November 1975.

Life at the Top: A Week with Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser 1977

Tracks Malcolm Fraser for one week in 1977 as he goes about his prime ministerial duties in Canberra and takes trips to Kalgoorlie and Wollongong.

Life Guards at Bondi Beach c1929

From around 1929, this fragment of actuality footage shows a Surf Life Saving carnival at Bondi Beach.

Life on a Sheep Farm 1965

Life on a sheep farm over one year in 1965, a time when rabbits were sometimes referred to as 'public enemy number one’.

Living Country 2005

The federal government’s 2005 proposal to dump nuclear waste 'in the middle of nowhere’ is impossible, given that the whole of Australia is ‘somewhere’.

Living Room 1988

This beautiful, unsettling experimental documentary is a meditation on Australian suburbia and notions of home.

Lizzy Gardiner’s Story of the Fame Game 1997

Director and interviewer Lizzy Gardiner had her own taste of fame when she won the Best Costume Design Oscar for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Lobster Tales 1998

In creating an 'animal meets people’-style documentary from a lobster’s point of view, director Celia Tait presents an anthropomorphic view of lobsters.

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