10 films to see at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Over the last few years, the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has established a name for itself as a home for thought-provoking and topical non-fiction films.

Running from July 19 to July 29 at Cinema Nova and The Backlot Studios, the key strands in this year’s program include: true crime, sports, music, LGBTIQ, the environment, and a focus on Australian stories.

With a beefy line-up full of curios from around the world, we trawled through the program to pick 10 titles that jumped out at us.

From magic mushrooms to Peter Sellers to fearless Swiss skydivers, here are our picks, with descriptions taken from the official program.

The Art of Incarceration

The Art of Incarceration explores The Torch, a pioneering not for profit organisation that runs arts programs for Indigenous prisoners and ex-offenders in the Victorian prison system. The film is an uncompromising insight into the inmates’ quest for cultural identity and spiritual healing as they prepare for The Torch’s annual Confined exhibition and for life on the outside.

Art Never Sleeps

Art Never Sleeps. Francis Ford Coppola lives by those words. This documentary is the story of the adventure Francis and his team embarked on with an old friend and the film students from Oklahoma City Community College. Together and against all odds, they achieved Francis’ long-held dream of live-streaming a movie and gave birth to a new frontier in cinematic art. Live Cinema.


Boom tells the untold story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s wildest and most influential bands, The Sonics. For the first time ever, all five original members of the band tell the true story of how it all went down, beginning to end.

Chasing the Jet Stream

Chasing the Jet Stream follows the pioneering adventure of Marc Hauser, a Swiss entrepreneur and motivational speaker who wants to become the first skydiver in the world jumping into a hurricane force jet stream at 8,000 to 10,000 meters altitude. With this record, Marc wants to bring attention to the nascent technology of airborne wind energy systems, which can harness high-altitude wind power. This new technology has the potential to defuse the global energy crisis

Dark Money

Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana—a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide—to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold.


After years of prescription medications failed her a suicidal woman turns to underground healers to try and overcome her depression, anxiety, and opioid addiction with illegal psychedelic medicine like magic mushrooms and iboga.

F*ck You All the Uwe Boll Story

Honing his craft as an indie filmmaker in Germany in the early 90s, Uwe Boll never could have imagined the life that would lay itself out in front of him. He has experienced a storied career that has led to such highs as working with Oscar-winning actors and making films with 60 million dollar budgets, and has reached such lows as having actors publicly disparage their films with Boll and online petitions for him to stop making films reaching hundreds of thousands of signatures. None of this stopped Uwe from continuing to put out movie after movie…Already a cult legend, Uwe Boll will be remembered forever in the film world.

The Ghost of Peter Sellers

A comedy genius, a hot new director and a 17th Century pirate film. What could possibly go wrong? The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a feature length documentary directed by Peter Medak about his unreleased film ‘Ghost in the Noonday Sun’, starring Peter Sellers and filmed in Cyprus in 1973. To this day one of the biggest film productions ever undertaken in Cyprus.

Kiss vs MCZ

A fascinating documentary about two different cultures meeting through the power of music: legendary Rock band KISS vs. Japanese pop mega-star girls band Momoiro Clover Z (MCZ).

The Last Stop

The Elan School was the last stop. Set deep in the woods of Maine, Elan delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Some say it sold hope; others say it sold Hell.