AIDC conference 2024: first look at program and speakers

Director Mstyslav Chernov and composer Nainita Desai have been confirmed as speakers at next year's event.

The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) has announced its first guests and theme for the 2024 event.

Organisers say the conference will ‘explore the integrity, urgency, and creative potential of nonfiction storytelling via the theme Frontlines: Shaping the Future of Documentary & Factual Storytelling’.

‘Reflecting our mission to support and elevate all forms of documentary and factual, AIDC 2024 turns its lens to the Frontlines – where we strive to secure the future of the sector, ensure its sustainability, and pave the way for unique, bold and engaging nonfiction stories.’

The conference will explore the following sub-themes through spotlight sessions, industry panels, screenings and initiatives: Edge of Reality (innovation, new technologies and future visions); Courage of Conviction (frontline storytelling, impact and change-making); Future of Truth (authenticity, integrity and truth-telling); Persistence of Vision (craft, creative nonfiction and experimentation in form); Depth of Field (access, inclusion and representation); and State of Play (policy change, sector reform and sustainability). 

The first speakers to be confirmed are:

Mstyslav Chernov, Director, 20 Days in Mariupol (Ukraine) 

Award-winning Ukrainian photojournalist, filmmaker and war correspondent, director of the multiple award-winning feature documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, detailing the Siege of Mariupol during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Chernov will lead AIDC’s Spotlight program. 20 Days in Mariupol has won awards at Sundance and Sheffield DocFest, and was recently nominated for five Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Feature Documentary and Best Political Documentary. 

Nainita Desai, Composer, The Deepest Breath, 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible (UK) 

A UK-based composer for multiple documentaries, whose recent work includes the hit A24 and Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath – nominated for four Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Documentary Feature and Best Score for Desai – and 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible (Netflix), for which she earned an Emmy nomination. Nainita’s other notable credits include Oscar-nominated and BAFTA and Cannes-winning feature documentary For Sama, Sundance-winning film The Reason I Jump and the Emmy-nominated Body Parts

AIDC will also debut the Southern Light Award, celebrating luminaries of the Australian documentary and factual industry. Expanding the eligibility scope of the pre-existing Stanley Hawes Award, presented from 1997–2023, the award is a new $5,000 cash prize presented by AIDC to an Australian industry professional for their outstanding contribution to nonfiction screen, digital and/ or audio media. Nominations can be made by AIDC members, and are open now. 

AIDC 2024 will take place in-person from 3–6 March 2024 at ACMI, Melbourne, followed by an online international marketplace, 7–8 March 2024. Registrations are now open on the AIDC website.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites