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(L-R): PR, Of the Last Reel in Front of You, Rock Steady, Tell Me About Your Mother

The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) has partnered with SBS On Demand and DocPlay to showcase student documentaries, with two curated selections available now to view on the platforms.  

SBS On Demand is presenting 14 short documentaries, with a 15thOf the Last Reel in Front of You – to be added after its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival later this month. These short-form works from AFTRS Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production students were created in response to a brief to explore culture and unique identity. The results promise to take audiences into a range of worlds and perspectives: from the Māori art of tā moko, into the life of a death doula, and onto Biripi and Gumbaynggirr Country with environmental activists. 

SBS On Demand & World Movies Channel Manager, Haidee Ireland said:

“SBS On Demand are proud to partner with AFTRS to bring this collection of diverse, entertaining and uniquely Australian stories to our audiences. We are so impressed with the talent of the emerging creatives showcased this year, and can’t wait for their fantastic short-films to join our offering of world-class documentaries and series on SBS On Demand. The talent coming through AFTRS every year is undeniable, and we value the opportunity to support the next generation of Australian documentary makers through our ongoing partnership with AFTRS.” 

AFTRS First Cut, streaming on DocPlay, offers viewers a captivating selection of five shorts crafted by Master of Arts Screen students. This collection invites audiences to discover a diversity of experiences: from a portrait of Australian poet Robert Adamson, and a refugee-run soccer club, to the inspiring story of Dave, who made it his mission to save a million lives. 

Rufus Richardson, DocPlay Executive said:

“As Australia’s only dedicated documentary streaming service, DocPlay is thrilled to partner with AFTRS in bringing this collection of entertaining and informative short-form documentaries to Australian audiences. The quality of emerging talent in this showcase stood out to us from the start, and the filmmakers have explored a diverse range of topics and issues with empathy, compassion and insight. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the team at AFTRS, who share our commitment to championing Australian stories, and we look forward to sharing more AFTRS documentaries with DocPlay audiences in the future.” 

Richard Welch, AFTRS Discipline Lead, Documentary, emphasised the broader impact of these partnerships:

“Collaborating with SBS On Demand and DocPlay allows us to bring our students’ exceptional work to a wider Australian audience. This initiative not only showcases the technical prowess and storytelling abilities of our students but also enriches the Australian documentary landscape with fresh, compelling narratives. We are excited for Australians to engage with these powerful stories and see the diverse talent we are cultivating.” 

AFTRS Documentary Showcase is available to stream free on SBS On Demand here.  

AFTRS First Cut is streaming on DocPlay here. 

The AFTRS Documentary Showcase on SBS On Demand 

Ukrainian-Australian activist Sasha Bilanovsky reflects on her time volunteering at a Ukrainian refugee camp in Poland and the connection she fostered with Ukrainian children that she cared for.
Director – Eleni Thomas
Writer(s) – Eleni Thomas and Alexandra (Sasha) Bilanovsky
Producer – C.Sean Cheng
Cinematographer – Lucie Spencer
Production and Costume Designer – Veronica Vedovato
Editor – Peter Christoffersen
Music – Olive Richards Flanagan
Sound Designer – Chloe Russell-Alexander
DOCUMENTARY Participant – Alexandra (Sasha) Bilanovsky
Sound Recordist/Boom Operator Day #1 – Flynn Boffo
Sound Recordist/Boom Operator Day #2 – Charles Cross
First Assistant Director – Keira Briggs
Script Supervisor – Alana Carling
Story Developer – Amalia Stramotas
Production Assistant – Olive Richards Flanagan
Art Department Assistant – Kristin Beukes   

It’s A Drag
Showcases Universal Sydney’s iconic drag queen Champagne as she goes through the glitz, glam and drag of being one of the most recognisable people around Sydney’s famous queer hub, Oxford Street.
Starring Champagne
Writer/Director – Dion Rhys Carrothers
Producer – Monique Placko
Cinematographer – Oscar Reisz
A Cam – Oscar Reisz
B Cam – Charli Bowers
1st AC – Felix Leung
Production Design – Imogen Tyler & Emma Jones Moralee
Editor – Felix Leung
Sound – Felix Leung 
Theme – Ellis Swinbourne
1st AD – Monique Placko
On-Set Producer – Judah Jackson   

Knitting the Revolution
Australia’s coal seam gas extraction has an opponent that was never expected: the Knitting Nannas, and their unlikely weapon, a pair of knitting needles.
Writer/Director – Lulu Shield
Producer/Scrip Editor – Sharni Lee
1st AD – Ali W
Cinematographer – Kiera D’Arcy
Production Design – Gracie Heinjus
Editor – Elle Booth
Composer – Angus Perry
Sound Recording – Dion Carrothers

Maya The Illusion of Home
Amid the shadows of exploitation, a Fiji-Indian grandmother’s journey illuminates the resilience of her ancestors, the impermanence of home, persisting expectations, and the transformative power of faith in the face of generational adversity.
Writer/Director – Tavishek Sharma 
Producer – Suvipra Vaidya  
Creative Consultant – Shivika Sharma  
Cinematographer – Megan Paige Gray, Melika Azimi 
First AD – Riti Ramanujachari 
Music – Maddy Briggs, Harmonium Recordings by – SUPAHONEY 
Editor – Tavishek Sharma 
Sound Designer – Joshua Brennan 
Gaffer – Brandon Sky Gatt  
Colourist – Melika Azimi 
Translation Assistance – Shivika Sharma     

Mother and Their Daughters
Women in Sydney are given the space to discuss their relationship with their mothers with no shame or judgement.
Director – Amy Auwardt
Producer – Sharni Lee
Cinematographer –  Lauren McConnell
1st Assistant Director – Oscar Reisz
Sound Recordist/Design – Ivy Watson
Editor – Belinda Tyldsley
Colourist – Lauren McConnell
Camera Assistant – Toby McConnell
Original Score – Jeremy Yong   

The Mother of the Markets
For 40 years, the Salvo family has served the farmers of the Sydney flower markets with cappuccinos, toasties and tiramisu. At the centre of this operation is Valentina, who breathes life into the markets with infectious positivity.
Director – Flynn Boffo
Writer – Flynn Boffo
Producer – Casey McCosh
Cinematographer – Sidney Im
Editor – Lachlan Millard
Music – William King
Sound Designer – Zac Cutcliffe
Featuring – Valentina Salvo, Angelo Salvo, Francesco ‘Jr’ Zullo
Sound Recordist – Lachlan Millard
Data Wrangler – Lachlan Millard
First Assistant Director – Amalia Stramotas
WHS Risk Assessment – Casey McCosh
BTS Photographer – Amalia Stramotas
Colorist – Peter Christoffersen  

Must Thank Sally
On a farm in Borenore, NSW, Sally and Timmy’s journey through life’s ups and downs reveals a simple yet powerful truth, that love, laughter and a sense of the ridiculous have the magic to mend hearts and rewrite our past.
Director – Jessica Bennett
Writer – Jessica Bennett
Producer – Ella Keough
Cinematographer – Max Norington
Editor – Ethan Byatt
Music – Noah Bloom
Sound Designer – Layla Philippou
Featuring – Sally Offner Timothy Offner, Francois Labanie
Sound Recordist – Layla Philippou
First Assistant Camera – Ethan Byatt
First Assistant Director – Enrico Lerda 

Ode to an End
Denise Love has been a death doula for 20 years. She serves dying people as a non-medical professional, working to make death and grief a more supported and realised experience for both the dying person and those around them.
Director – Layla Philippou
Cinematographor – Ruby Reardon
Editor – Ruby Reardon
Producer – Jonathan Zhang
First Assistant Director – Eleni Thomas
Production Assistant – Sean Campbell
Sound – Liam Uhlmann
Composer – Dylan Ford
With – Denise Love, Gary Love   

Of the Last Reel in Front of You
A short hybrid documentary that follows a film projectionist, Alan Butterfield, as he reminisces the past and present.
Writer DirectorYan Geng
ProducerWentian Jin
CinematographerTom Xiao
Assistant DirectorBarney Wilson
Assistant CameraFelix Leung
Gaffer(s)Fletcher Turale & Antony Zhang
Production Design – Wentian Jin & Charli Bowers
Sound Recordist(s) – Zac Cutcliffe & Felix Leung
Poster Art – Jonathan Zhang   

Our Inked Identity
Practising the art of tā moko an ocean away from his New Zealand roots, Rangi Maika shares his experience with the art form and what it means for the revival of Māori culture and Māori people, even those in their now Australian home.
Director – Jaida Ngawaka
Producer – Cooper Kahui-Chee
Cinematographer – Melika Azimi
Editor – Cooper Kahui-Chee
Sound Recordist – Charlotte Weir
Sound Designer – Cooper Kahui-Chee
First Assistant Director – Lewis Coote   

As an Italian-Australian filmmaker joins an Italian immigrant to cook their nonna’s favourite recipes, they start bonding over their shared challenges migrating to Australia and the sacrifices to make it happen.
Writer/DirectorEnrico Lerda
ProducerWentian Jin
CinematographerPeter Christoffersen 
Assistant DirectorJessica Bennett                                   
Sound RecordistsDeclan Morgan
EditorEthan Byatt  

Rock Steady
Amongst the stunning Biripi and Gumbaynggirr Country, environmental activists and a determined ecologist on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia face the imminent threat of logging that looms over the remaining native forests.
Director – Lauri Jones-Male
Producer – Ali Wildberger
Cinematographer/ Sound/ Editor – Grant Hardwick
1st AD – Violet Simpson
BTS Photography – Dion Carrothers   

Rough Edges
Chronicles Andrew’s journey through homelessness where the transformative power of faith, spirituality, and the support of the Rough Edges charity converge to shed light on a story of resilience, hope, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.
Writer Director – Lewis Coote
Producer – Mackenzie Callan
First Assistant Director – Gabriel Thurley
Editors – Lewis Coote & Olivia Tremul
Cinematographer – Akamjot Singh
Colourist – Akamjot Singh  

Tell Me About Your Mother
Rosh Veera, a proud Sri Lankan-Malay woman, cooks a traditional meal and talks about her mother’s journey of leaving her home country to immigrate to Australia.
Director – Casey McCosh
Writers – Casey McCosh & Riti Ramanujachari
Producer – Michaela Chung
Cinematographer – Fletcher Turale
Editor – Riti Ramanujachari
Score – Louis Wishart & Lucy Blomfield
Sound Recordist – Yan Geng
Data Wrangler – Riti Ramanujachari
First Assistant Director – Tavishek Sharma
Gaffer – Tom Xiao
WHS Risk Assessment – Michaela Chung
Stills Photographer – Tavishek Sharma
Animation – Claudia Pellegrini   

Worth Fighting For
Explores the journey of Adrian Mouhajer, an aspiring MMA fighter from Lakemba, New South Wales, as they battle with gender stereotypes and economic hardships, shaping their determination to challenge family and societal expectations.
Director – Barney Wilson
Producer – Jude Palmer Rowlands
Cinematographer – Olivia Tremul
Editor – Gabriel Thurley
Sound Recordist and Editor – Alison Cowan
1st Assistant Director – Mackenzie Callan
Gaffer – Fletcher Turale
Risk Assessment completed – Jude Palmer Rowlands
Stills Photographer – Amy Auwardt
Graphic Designer – Elena Pizzorno Knorr   

AFTRS First Cut on DocPlay 

The Kingfisher’s Soul
A love story between one of Australia’s leading contemporary poets, Robert Adamson, and celebrated photographer Juno Gemes.
Director – Sophie Alstergren
Cinematographer – Pete Moses
Editor – Elita G.
Music – Carla Dobbie

An insiders look at the anti-abortion protestors who run a crisis hotline for pregnant women in trouble.
Director – Cassandra Charlton
Cinematographer – T. Oxford
Editor – Rhianna Miles
Music – Robert Hislop

Last Goal Wins
Feeling the impact of Australia’s refugee policy, a group of Tamils form a community as they organise weekly football matches in Western Sydney and support each other through life’s challenges.
Director – Zebedee Parkes
Cinematographer – Ali Rezvani
Editor – Jack Needle

One in a Million
CPR instructor, Dave Winner experienced a surfing accident in 2021. After being brought back to life, Dave has made it his mission to teach one million people CPR for free by 2030. Backed by his community, Dave strives to overcome his physical condition to run his first free CPR class.
Director – Dylan Nicholls
Cinematographer – Luke Torrevillas
Editor – Jem Batley
Music – Gareth Hudson
Sound Recording – Dylan Nicholls
Underwater Cinematography – Jemma Craig
Re-Recording mix – Greg Wise

She; Who Lives
Set in a day on a local train, the film is about the fears and dreams of migrant mothers through the lens of displacement.
Director – Ayesha Farooq
Producer – Tace Stevens and Ayesha Farooq
Cinematographer – Hamish Gregory
Editor – Jamyka B.
Music – Lena Matienko
Sound – Raquel Cuevas