/News 15.04.21


Three stand-out NSW-made feature documentaries, I’m Wanita, Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, and Playing With Sharks, have been selected for the prestigious Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada.

Hotly anticipated documentary I’m Wanita by director Matthew Walker will have its world premiere at the Festival as part of Artscapes, a program that features work exploring creativity in the performing and visual arts. Director Sally Aitken’s feature documentary Playing With Sharks will screen part of the Festival’s special presentations program, and Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra will also feature as part of Artscapes.

View the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival program now.

I’m Wanita

Director: Matthew Walker | Producers: Carolina Sorensen, Clare Lewis, Tait Brady | Australia | 2021 | 86 mins | World Premiere

I’m Wanita is a documentary about a country music renegade, hell-bent on realising her childhood dream of stardom before it’s too late. The film follows Wanita, a little known but unforgettable country music singer from Tamworth, NSW, who has dedicated her life to country music, but has yet to be rewarded with accolades or fame.

Filmed over five years, I’m Wanita takes us on a musical odyssey from Tamworth in regional NSW to Sun Studio in Memphis, the birthplace of rock’n’roll, through to the streets and studios of New Orleans, and finally country music’s hallowed ground: Nashville, Tennessee. Will a lifetime of refusing to play by the rules overshadow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, or will Wanita stand and deliver?

Trackdown’s Gary Seeger managed Music Supervision for I’m Wanita.

Playing With Sharks

Director: Sally Aitken | Producer: Bettina Dalton | Australia | 2020 | 91 mins | North American Premiere

Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the diving world. A glamorous shark hunter in the 1950s, she was a champion with deadly aim before a personal epiphany transformed her into a passionate marine conservationist – specifically for the ocean’s scariest creature, the shark. Long before anyone else, Valerie dared to get close; swimming against the tide of the human perception of sharks and putting herself on the front line for over 70 years.

Featuring a stranger-than-fiction script, a magnetic heroine, the making of Jaws, and that most charismatic and terrifying of screen creatures, sharks; this powerful and visually sumptuous 90-minute feature documentary draws on incredible re-mastered film footage captured over 50 years. Through her life’s arc, we go on a journey of new understandings, from fear to respect and admiration of these complex, majestic creatures. Valerie Taylor is a marine maverick, a fearless diver, and pioneering conservationist who dared to befriend even the great white shark. This formidable woman forged her own adventure story in a male dominated world; Valerie’s passion to change the human perceptions of sharks transformed scientific knowledge and our understanding of these magnificent apex predators.

Big Bang Sound Design provided sound design.

Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra

Directors: Wayne Blair, Nel Minchin | Producers: Nel Minchin, Ivan O’Mahoney | Australia | 2021 | 80 mins | North American Premiere

From the critically acclaimed directors Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and Nel Minchin (Matilda and Me) comes an exquisite and enchanting look at the revolutionary, world-renowned Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Through a rich and expansive history, told over four decades, the film traces how David, Russell and Stephen Page (Spear), descendants of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from SE Queensland, propelled Bangarra to international acclaim, forging through the harsh realities of systemic racism within Australia. Together, they overcame personal tragedies and celebrated triumphs as they created a radical dance language and revolution that spoke to the reclamation of culture. But when Stephen tragically lost both his brothers, he had to find a way to lead Bangarra into its future and carry on its mandate to change society.

Spectrum Films provided a complete suite of post-production services for Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra including editorial, digital intermediate, sound design and sound mix.

Featured Image Credit: I’m Wanita, photo by Patrick Boland

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