Airdate: Curious Australia docos

New SBS VICELAND and NITV docos come from emerging screen practitioners from under-represented backgrounds.

Curious Australia, a new strand of seven half-hour documentaries which explore issues relevant to contemporary Australia, is set to premiere on SBS VICELAND and NITV in August.

Curious Australia supports screen practitioners from under-represented backgrounds exploring what it’s like being young, disabled and sexual, to the inspiring story of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman who is an aspiring screenwriter working in a coal mine.

The seven documentaries selected in the first year of the initiative have been commissioned in partnership with Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest, the South Australian Film Corporation and VicScreen.

Bernadine Lim, Commissioning Editor of Documentaries at SBS, said: “Curious Australia is such an exciting new addition to our documentary offering across the network. Each half-hour program is distinct, compelling and meaningful. Together they capture what SBS is known for, exploring issues relevant to contemporary Australia in a unique, bold and entertaining way. We’re proud of the films and impressed by the way the emerging and mid-level creatives have grabbed this development opportunity to evolve their storytelling. Be prepared to laugh, cry and connect to worlds you might not know.”

Marissa McDowell, Commissioning Editor at NITV, said: “We’re thrilled to be providing a national platform for these talented filmmakers from under-represented backgrounds to tell their important stories. We’re really looking forward to seeing these bold and unique stories from First Nations perspectives by our documentary film makers across Australia come to life on screens next month.”

Screen Australia’s Head of Documentary, Alex West, said: “We are delighted that Australian audiences will be able to discover these seven powerful documentaries in August across SBS VICELAND and NITV, which truly embody, reflect and celebrate the diversity of the people and experiences within our country and which showcase the remarkable talent working in Australian documentary-making today.”

Episode 1 – We Are Sexual Beings (VicScreen)
August 4 at 8.30pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
We Are Sexual Beings explores what being young, disabled and sexual in modern Australia is all about. Over the course of a 24-hour period three adventurous young Australians with disabilities will pull back the covers on their intimate lives; Oli, an aspiring tennis champ and actor full of swagger and bravado; Maya, an earnest sweetheart on a quest for her first taste of true romance; and Christina, a wild-child motorhead from rural South Australia, who, in her own words, “is done with her ho phase and is all about self- satisfaction”— three remarkably different human beings who all happen to share two things in common: life altering spinal injuries and healthy sexual appetites.
Creator/Writer/Director: Isaac Elliott
Creator/Writer/Producer: Lucy Knox

Episode 2 – Black Empire (South Australian Film Corporation)
August 4 at 9pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
It’s easy to feel alone in the Australian music industry, but for First Nations musicians, the isolation can be overwhelming. Rapper and Larrakia man Jimblah knows all too well that despite Black song playing such a transformative role in Australia’s history, it’s still seen as just another marketable asset. But what if it could be different? What if there was hope for something better? What will it take for Jimblah to create his own Black Empire?
Director: Johanis Lyons-Reid
Writer/Director: Pearl Berry
Writer/Producer: Piri Eddy
Producer: Lilla Berry
Executive Producer: Dean Gibson

Episode 3 – The Alexander Ball (Screen Queensland)
August 11 at 8.30pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
Ballroom culture originated within 1960’s – 1970’s New York founded by Black and Latinx trans women after the continuous discrimination from the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s a global movement, lifestyle and a cutthroat competition where competitors known as walkers compete in various categories for the grand prize. The Alexander Ball is Australia’s first look into the hypnotising world of Ballroom through an observational documentary extravaganza, following the exhilarating journey of Samoan-Australian trans woman of colour, Ella Ganza, as she and her ballroom family prepare for one of the biggest events of the year: The Alexander Ball.
Director/Producer/Writer: Jessica Magro

Episode 4 – Sistas in Mining (Screen Queensland)
August 11 at 9pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
Sistas in Mining is a documentary that follows the inspiring story of Shontell Leah Ketchell, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, who is an aspiring screenwriter who works as a production operator on a coal mine in Central Queensland.
Co-Director: Ewan Cutler
Co-Director/Producer: Jill Robinson
Writer/Creator/Co-Producer: Shontell Leah Ketchell
Executive Producer: Dean Gibson

Episode 5 – Run Girl (Screen NSW)
August 18 at 8.30pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
Australian Olympic athlete and refugee, Bendere Oboya, searches for identity as she switches events from the 400m track to the 800m track in pursuit of becoming the world’s best. After starting athletics as an escape, the Ethiopian-born 21-year-old is determined to show that no matter your beginnings, anything is possible.
Director/Producer: Renny Wijeyamohan
Writer: Zufan Emerson
Executive Producer: Nicholas Searle

Episode 6 – Un-Locked (Screen NSW)
August 18 at 9pm on SBS VICELAND and NITV
Un-Locked follows two young people trying to fit into society. Through various experiences, each character’s innocence is quickly dissolved into a tainted and violent city. This is a fully animated documentary, allowing the interviewees to remain anonymous, and deliver raw recollections of their experiences, of being locked up, one in juvenile detention and the other in a mental health facility.
Co-Director/Co-Writer: Jake Duczynski
Co-Director/Co-Writer: Mr James Hackett
Executive Producer: Beck Cole
Producers: Michaela Perske, Margee Brown
Executive Producer: Dean Gibson

Episode 7 – Whatever Scares You (VicScreen)
August 25 at 8.30pm on SBS VICELAND
Whatever Scares You is a rite of passage film that documents Breanna Deleo in her first year of work. Breanna is attempting to work as a professional artist – a challenging profession for anyone. And Breanna has begun to identify as neurodivergent. Her parents are her greatest allies and advocates. They want to protect Breanna but sometimes to find our way in the world, we need to go it alone.
Writer and Director: Tamara Searle
Writer: Breanna Deleo
Producer: Alice Fleming

All seven of the Curious Australia documentaries will be available to stream on SBS On Demand with subtitles in five languages: Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean, allowing more Australians to engage in these important topics.

All seven Curious Australia documentaries will also drop on SBS On Demand on August 4.

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