The Antenna Documentary Festival features the hardest-hitting and most provocative international documentaries created over the past 12 months. Now in its third incarnation, it's comprised of 37 full-length works, ten shorts and seven free Doc Talk sessions. This year will also see a Kim Longinotto Retrospective and a tribute to legendary filmmaker Dennis O'Rourke. Plus, the winners of three major awards will be announced: SBS Best International Documentary, Best Australian Documentary and Best Australian Short. With a fine field to select from, deciding on a top five was no easy task, but here are our picks of the pack nonetheless.
1. THE NETWORK
Festival opening night (Wednesday, 2 October) will feature the Australian premiere of The Network. Directed by now LA-based Aussie Eva Orner, who produced 2008 Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, it follows the establishment of the first television station in post-Taliban Afghanistan. It's a journey driven by hope, underpinned with fear and challenged by the horrors of endless warfare - from suicide bombings to sporadic street battles.
2. ARE YOU LISTENING!
If there's something frightening about climate change, it's the potential for entire nations to be wiped out. Current predictions suggest that Bangladesh, for example, won't exist at all by 2113. Filmmaker Kamar Ahmad Simon explores what this means at grassroots level, following the struggles of a family who, along with 100 others, are forced to inhabit a dyke after their village is destroyed by a cyclone. Simon will appear at the festival as a guest, conducting a Q&A session after the screening of Are You Listening!
3. BA NOI (GRANDMA)
This dreamy, at times otherworldly, work combines past, present and future. Vietnamese-born, Canadian-raised filmmaker Khoa Le travels to his homeland, where he speaks with his 93-year-old grandmother and explores New Year's rituals, examining the elements that influence our sense of cultural and familial belonging. Ba Noi (Grandma)won the 2013 Hot Docs Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize. Khoa Le will be in attendance as a festival guest, delivering a Q&A after the screening.
4. THE PUNK SINGER
What Searching for Sugar Man has done for Rodriguez, The Punk Singer does for Kathleen Hanna. Fearless feminist icon and frontwoman for both punk outfit Bikini Kill and electronica trio Le Tigre, she vanished from the music industry in 2005. Filmmaker Sini Anderson reveals what happened.
5. THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE
This year's festival will close with the Australian premiere of The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne. Born into the USA's then segregated Southern States, Payne became a highly successful jewellery thief, having stolen $2 million worth of goods from Cartier and Tiffany's to date. She's now in her eighties and about to go on trial. Filmmakers Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina (a special guest of the festival) examine the complex history and identity of Doris Payne.
Images courtesy of the Antenna Documentary Festival website.