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Five Must-See Films at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival 2016

Love a good doco? We've whittled down 39 features to these five must-sees.
By Sarah Ward
October 11, 2016
By Sarah Ward
October 11, 2016

There's always something to see at a documentary festival. Whether true crime gets your pulse racing or you're excited about the idea of diving into the weird and wonderful side of this world we live in, part of the fun of a festival focused on factual efforts is the sense of real-life discovery — you'll most likely learn something new.

Since it started in 2011, that's what the Antenna Documentary Film Festival has offered movie buffs keen on a dose of reality with their viewing, with the fest's annual program nothing if not varied and vibrant. Taking their true tales to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane audiences, the latter for the first time this year, Antenna beams everything from docos about eating crawling critters to cine-essays about the impact of horror cinema into hearts and minds. From this year's 39-feature lineup, here's our top five picks.


Maybe you're the kind of person who's willing to eat almost anything once. Or, perhaps you're much more cautious about your culinary choices. Either way, this doco is something everyone should watch — when it comes to what we eat, the future of the planet is at stake. Researchers from gastronomic entrepreneur Rene Redzepi's (Noma) Nordic Food Lab investigate the practise of eating insects as a solution to issues of food security and scarcity, and documentarian Andreas Johnsen follows their efforts. Yep, Bugs is probably going to make your stomach squirm — but, if you really are adventurous, you can try an ant-covered ice cream at the films's screening.


In Beyond Clueless, critic and filmmaker Charlie Lyne explored the films audiences not only literally grew up with, but also chronicled that process on screen. Now, like we all do, he's moved on from teen flicks to horror — and he's giving the fright-inducing genre the same treatment. Assembling tension-filled clips from over 100 spooky efforts, he examines just how everything from the usual suspects to hidden gems manage to give audiences goosebumps and leave them on the edge of their seats. Clearly, this is a film for horror buffs — maybe don't head along if you're easily scared.


You mightn't know Kirsten Johnson's name, but if you watch documentaries, then you know her visuals. As a cinematographer and camera operator, she has shot or contributed to the shooting of everything from Fahrenheit 9/11 to Citizenfour, however, that's not all she has filmed. After more than two decades in the business, Johnson has assembled quite the array of unused footage from every effort that she has worked on, which all forms part of Cameraperson. Using these otherwise-discarded scenes, she crafts a portrait of the relationship between the people on either sides of the camera, as well as an absolutely riveting cine-memoir.


It was the film that launched the careers of both Michael Fassbender and his Shame and 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen: Hunger, a recreation of Irish Republican prisoner Bobby Sands' refusal to eat food for 66 days. As Bobby Sands: 66 Days' title suggest, Brendan Byrne's documentary also tells that story. Of course, it looks at the situation from a factual rather than dramatised perspective, with the end result both powerful and informative. There's a reason that the eponymous figure's actions back in 1981 continue to draw attention, which this compilation of interviews, archival materials and recreations attempts to get to the bottom of.


The Russian city of Ozersk is the city time may as well have forgotten, closing itself off to the world around it, and even using armed guards to stop anyone entering. Indeed, the mountainous locale is referred to as City 40, and though it looks picturesque, it's really anything but. It's here that the Soviet nuclear weapons program was born after World War II — and where many are now stockpiled. This documentary examines not only the place, but the people who remain, even as their beloved home town literally poisons them through radiation.

The Antenna Documentary Film Festival screens in Sydney from October 11 to 16, in Brisbane from October 26 to 30, and in Melbourne from November 2 to 6. For the full program, see the festival website.

Published on October 11, 2016 by Sarah Ward
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