AIDC Zooms into its own inaugural awards program

For the documentary community, The Australian Dream is more than a fine picture suffused with controlled rage from Stan Grant. It demonstrates how images, empathy and clear rhetoric can create a national conversation.

The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) went into an awards ceremony for the first time under the strangest possible circumstances. In the black shoebox cave of an Australian Centre for the Moving Image Cinema (ACMI), clumps of old friends gathered together to watch a bunch of awards given out to documentary makers who received their awards with a pre-recorded announcement. As CEO and Festival Director Alice Bergin admitted, all the nominees had to do a clip on the assumption they won, and then had to wait for the actual screening to discover if, in fact, reality had gone their way. It was oddly reminiscent of the mix of spontaneous and constructed, which a good doc captures. It was a crap year for feature documentaries launched in cinemas because they were shut a lot, and some gems may have escaped the public eye. The winner of the Best Feature Documentary award, supported by a $5,000 cash prize from DocPlay, supported in person by a mop-topped Paul Wiegard from Madman, and went to The Australian Dream. That was the Stan Grant version of the Adam Goodes story. When it was broadcast on the ABC it was possible to have interesting conversation at bus stops about the film, which is always a good moment. It was credited to Director Daniel Gordon, Good Thing Productions & Passion Pictures. Good Thing is Nick Batzias and Virginia Whitwell, who used to work for Madman, while Passion Pictures represents Daniel Gordon, is an international production company, which at the time contained John Battsek, who has a string of great global credits. Missing from this list is the writer, Stan Grant. The AIDC has adopted the wonderful practice from the print community of a jury commentary.

Jury Statement: We are thrilled to award Best Documentary Feature to Daniel Gordon’s The Australian Dream. In collaboration with Stan Grant, what Gordon finds in the story of Adam Goodes’ disgraceful public discrimination is potent, eloquent, troubling. Ultimately a story of resilience, both of a man, and a people; a stridently articulated challenge to Australia to consider the true meaning and making of its history, and a film that deserves to reach all Australians, and beyond.

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David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.