A new national initiative called ‘Curious Australia’ from SBS and NITV is seeking submissions from diverse and First Nations creatives to produce half-hour documentaries about contemporary Australia.
Alongside Screen Australia, in addition to state and Territory-based agencies Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest and the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), Curious Australia aims to support under-represented screen practitioners in telling diverse stories. Of the submissions, those chosen will be commissioned to air across SBS platforms, including SBS VICELAND, NITV, and broadcast video on-demand (BVOD) service SBS On Demand. SBS specifies that Curious Australia is targeted at mid-career practitioners working on lower-budget, exciting and risk-taking projects.
To qualify for the Curious Australia initiative, submissions must include at least two major creative roles held by people from under-represented backgrounds. This includes people identifying as First Nations Australians, women–including diverse age groups–cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living with disability, diverse sexuality and gender identities including LGBTQIA+, people from under-represented locations including regional and remote areas, and diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Another Curious Australia criteria is that submitted projects need to be standalone unscripted documentaries suitable for a half-hour television slot, while reflecting the SBS Charter and innovatively exploring contemporary Australian issues.
Highlighting Australia’s unique characteristics is one of the main parts of the Curious Australia initiative, according to Susie Jones, SBS’ Commissioning Editor, Documentaries.
‘Through Curious Australia, we’ve partnered with Screen Australia and screen agencies around the country to seek out documentaries which put the spotlight on those things that make Australia unique, the people that inspire us to see things from a different perspective, and authentic stories that spark curiosity, enlighten and engage audiences in powerful and entertaining ways,’ Jones said. ‘It’s an exciting new addition to our factual offering across the network, providing a unique opportunity for documentary-makers to tackle contemporary Australian stories and issues while also supporting the development of diverse creative talent in the sector.’
It is hoped Curious Australia will open up more opportunities for First Nations storytelling, as mentioned by Bundjalung woman Kyas Hepworth, NITV’s Head of Commissioning and Programming.
‘We’re really looking forward to seeing bold and unique stories from First Nations documentary makers across Australia uncovered through this initiative, exploring and reflecting the diverse experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today,’ Hepworth said.
Potential Curious Australia applicants are asked to make project submissions directly with the corresponding state or Territory agency, with applications due to close Monday 12 July 2021.