Changing Minds

Podcast: TV series Changing Minds returns to fight the taboo

The harmful stigma surrounding mental health may still remain in some areas, but an ambitious television series is tackling that head on. The second season of Changing Minds will begin on ABC tomorrow night, to fight the taboo that often shroudes mental health.

The three-part series follows 11 patients in the locked mental health units of Sydney's Campbelltown Hospital and in the homes of patients cared for by community mental health teams.

We were joined by Dr Mark Cross, psychiatrist at Campbelltown Hospital, to chat more about this ground-breaking series and the issue of mental health.

Listen to the radio interview here

Steve Barnes sees through the illness and gives young people hope

Steve Barnes is often the last hope for many young people who suffer with mental health problems. As a clinical nurse consultant, the Austral mother of three has spent 30 years working in drug, health and mental illness.

She is one of the faces on ABC’s Changing Minds: The Inside Story, which is run over three episodes. Episode one is on tonight.

Podcast: Behind the Scenes

Changing Minds, series two, follows a group of ten young Australians facing mental health issues and we see how our mental health system copes with caring for them. The first series picked up an Australian Director’s Guild Award for Best Directing in a Documentary Series for director Cian O’Clery. He joined us on the phone today to talk about the new series and how they went about filming people in the most vulnerable point in their life.“Changing Minds” will broadcast on ABC on 6, 7, 8 October for Mental Health Week.

Visit the Radio Adelaide link to listen to the podcast episode with Cian O'Clery

Switched On review of Changing Minds

OUT OF THE BOXANNA BRAIN ★★★★

Joel, 18, has a problem. "This may sound crazy, but I can speak to spirits and that," he tells Dr Mark Cross. The shrink is ready for him. "Look, I'm a psychiatrist, I can cope with crazy."

Joel is in society's most at-risk group for mental illness, 17-24, one of the patients at Campbelltown Hospital's Mental Health Unit who have agreed to be filmed for the second season of this riveting series. Dr Cross and team can help in different ways, starting with the simple stuff. Joel, who lives in a bush cave, needs a pair of shoes.

Switched On - CM review - 30.09.15

Sydney Morning Herald's 4 Star Review of Changing Minds

This Week: Melinda Houston's TV sides Melinda Houston – SMH - October 4, 2015

CHANGING MINDS Series return ★★★★ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8.30pm, ABC

Changing Minds tackles mental health issues faced by young people.

This fabulous observational documentary returns for a second season, this time focusing on the mental health problems besetting our teens and twentysomethings. It doesn't sound like a great night's entertainment but the frankness and generosity with which the subject is treated, and the beautiful characters that emerge – diverse, funny, clever, sweet, often challenging but extraordinarily brave – make this completely engaging. Yes, hopefully it will change your mind about mental illness – but you will also by thoroughly engaged along the way.

Changing Minds: journey from mental illness

Pick of the day: Changing Minds: The Inside Story, 8.30pm, ABC. This three-part series screens tonight and the next two evenings, a key focus of a week of programming on mental illness, health and wellbeing across television, radio and online.

Producer Jenni Wilks and director Cian O’Clery take us on a journey with young mentally ill patients on their road to recovery, from breaking point to rehabilitation in the locked mental health units of Sydney’s Campbelltown Hospital.

The 10 patients — more than 30 were filmed — include Daniel, 20, whose cannabis addiction masks psychotic symptoms; Taileah, 20, a recently graduated nurse whose stress manifests in auditory hallucinations; 24-year-old Nathan, whose schizophrenia allows him to converse with Hitler and Muhammad Ali; and Fabrice, 36, a barrister’s son with persecutory delusions.

They generously agreed to be filmed during the acute phases of their illnesses, their stories not related retrospectively but allowed to unfold in crisis, a serendipitous process hardly within the norms of production schedules and crew call sheets.

It meant there was no guarantee patients would continue to consent as they became increasingly in touch with their real selves — and, as O’Clery says, no guarantee existed that the stories would be engaging to an audience.

Well, they certainly are — this series is not only informative and intensely moving at times, if often uncomfortable viewing, it’s also philosophically profound and often very funny as taboos and stigmas about mental illness are confronted and challenged.

It’s skilfully and compassionately directed by O’Clery with sensual photography from Simon Morris creating a feature film look with a shallow depth of field causing distractions to melt away.

Bravo to all involved, especially the charming and witty Mark Cross, the psychiatrist at the centre of this absorbing, character-driven observational series.

ABC's Mental Health Week gets real with second 'Changing Minds'

ABC’s Mental As… week won plenty of acclaim in 2014 for “shining light” on mental illness, particularly in the centrepiece of the week — a three-part documentary which went inside a mental health unit. Changing Minds is an excellent piece of documentary and thoroughly deserved its accolades, including the Sydney Morning Herald review which named it “one of the most important programs in Australian television history.” 

Northern Pictures strikes the right balance

When David Haslingden decided to return home to Australia a few years ago, he didn’t have a home. After leaving his role as the president and chief operating officer of the US Fox Networks Group, the home to FX, National Geographic, Fox Sports and others, he emerged with a production company with operations in China, New Zealand and Singapore yet “nowhere to sit” in ­Sydney.

The Australian - Review of Changing Minds

Directed with great skill and compassion is the ABC’s startling three-part Changing Minds: The Inside Story, a key component of Mental As, a week of programming across TV, radio and online on mental illness, health and wellbeing. In this second season of the show, producer Jenni Wilks and director Cian O’Clery take us on a rather fantastical journey with a group of young mentally ill patients on their road to recovery in the locked mental health units of Sydney’s Campbelltown Hospital. The 10 patients include 20-year-old Daniel, whose cannabis addiction masks psychotic symptoms; Taileah, a recently graduated 20-year-old nurse whose stress manifests in distressing auditory hallucinations; 24-year-old Nathan, whose schizophrenia allows him to converse with Hitler and Muhammad Ali; and Fabrice, a 36-year-old barrister’s son with persecutory delusions about demons and devils.

They all generously agreed to be filmed during the acute phases of their illnesses, their stories not related retrospectively but allowed to unfold in crisis, a serendipitous process hardly within the norms of production schedules and crew call sheets. It meant there was no guarantee patients would continue to consent as they became increasingly in touch with their real selves — and, as O’Clery says, no certainty existed that the stories found would be engaging to an audience. Well, they certainly are. This series is not only informative and intensely moving at times, if often uncomfortable viewing, it’s also philosophically profound and often very funny as taboos and stigmas about mental illness are confronted and challenged. (For example: mental illness is not a life sentence; not all mental illnesses are the same; mentally ill people are not violent; and some cultural groups are no more likely than others to experience it.)

O’Clery and his director of photography, Simon Morris, filmed the series in a highly cinematic fashion using prime lenses on large sensor cameras, giving the images a feature-film look with a shallow depth of field, causing distractions to melt away, and at times it looks quite sensual. “What I didn’t want was for the series to look ‘raw and gritty’ ”, the director says. “I think that by doing our best to make it look beautiful, it helps present people and their stories in a sensitive and gentle way.”

Bravo to all involved especially the charming and witty Mark Cross, the psychiatrist at the centre of this absorbing character-driven observational series.

Northern Pictures spotlights mental health, sex

Documentaries on mental health, artist Brett Whiteley, the environmental threat to our seas, the secret life of pearls and how to have better sex are in the works from Northern Pictures. Managing director Sue Clothier and head of factual Karina Holden are driving the eclectic slate for broadcasters including National Geographic Channels International and the ABC and distributor Transmission Films.

The second series of Changing Minds: The Inside Story will screen on three consecutive nights from October 6 as part of Mental As..., the ABC’s week-long initiative in support of Mental Health Week.

While last year’s series was filmed inside Western Sydney's Liverpool Hospital’s psychiatric ward, the sequel follows daily life in the locked mental health units of Campbelltown Hospital and in the homes of patients cared for by community mental health teams.

Good Pitch 2 Australia generated philanthropic funding for six projects including two Northern Pictures feature docs. Whiteley is a portrait of the life and legacy of the celebrated artist Brett Whiteley, funded in the first round of Screen Australia’s documentary producer program.

Produced by Clothier, the doc is being directed by James Bogle, who is co-writing with Victor Gentile. “We will tell the story in Brett’s own voice, using archival material, and there will be some dramatic re-enactments,” Clothier tells IF.

The late artist’s wife Wendy Whiteley is co-operating. Distributor Transmission will arrange event screenings and the release will be marketed via major arts institutions.

Blue will examine efforts to safeguard the waters surrounding the continent from industrial scale fishing, habitat destruction, species loss and pollution.

Filming is due to start in early 2016, with Holden as the director/writer and Sarah Beard as the “impact” producer, who will pursue various models of distribution.

Blue will tap into the 700 hours of underwater footage filmed in the past few years by Northern Pictures, most of it in 4K, including the 3-part series Life on the Reef which screened on ABC, PBS, Arte, Discovery UK and National Geographic Channels International (NGCI).

NGCI has commissioned Secret Life of Pearls, a one-off doc which explains how man and nature work together to forge the ocean’s most desired treasure. The director is Nick Robinson, whose credits include Life on the Reef and Kakadu.

Holden is producing Lukewarm Sex, a six-part doc for the ABC created by actor/writer Luke McGregor (now on screen in Working Dog’s Utopia) and the director Hayden Guppy.

The series will follow McGregor’s efforts to get better at sex with help from experts who aim to coach him to go from being lukewarm to red hot.

Clothier says viewers will have to watch the show on the ABC next year to see how that mission turns out.

ABC’s mental health week gets real with second ‘Changing Minds’

Producer Jenni Wilks talks us through the second series of ABC’s acclaimed ‘Changing Minds’, which chronicles the happenings of one of Australia’s busiest Mental Health Units. 3f52a142c355b83772c2

In Australia, mental illness is the third leading cause of disability. Statistically each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience some form of debilitating mental illness.

Yet in spite of how prevalent it may be, there remains a huge degree of stigma attached to those with mental illnesses, deeply entrenched negative perceptions held by the wider community.

A 2006 study reported by the Western Australia Mental Health Commission found that one in four people felt depression to be a sign of weakness and would not employ a person with depression; one in five said if they had depression they would not tell anyone; a third would not vote for any politician that had depression; and 42% thought people with depression were unpredictable.

Changing Minds: The Inside Story is a documentary series by Northern Pictures in collaboration with the ABC. About to enter its second season, the program – whose Oct 6 premiere coincides with Mental Health Week - not only attempts to challenge the perceptions we might hold about the mentally ill, it seeks to elicit a compassionate attitude by following the lives of several real patients inside a South Western Sydney hospital. Both touching and confronting, it emphasises the common humanity we can too easily forget we share with those less fortunate.

“There has not been another documentary before Changing Minds that has captured the reality of the experience for people who suffer,” says series producer Jenni Wilks. “I hope the audience comes to understand what it is really like for people and their families to live and deal with mental illness, which in turn will reduce the stigma associated with it.”

Wilks is certainly as qualified as anyone to pronounce on the subject. A formerly registered nurse, whose husband is a psychiatrist, she says it is her interest in health, medicine and social issues which draws her to medical documentaries.

For seventeen years, she was the supervising producer on RPA, where, she explains “mental illness was the only area of medicine never covered in a series that ran for seventeen years! I made several attempts to include mental illness in the series but there was resistance from medical staff and my own production peers.”

While Wilks argues this as another example of stigma towards mental illness, she reports that “ABC TV executives were very open to supporting the series,” and including it as part of their ‘Mental As…’ week of programming about Mental Health.

“With a filmmakers hat on I could see how the nature and impact of mental illnesses could engage an audience, particularly in an observational format,” says Wilks.

However, given the nature of the program, strict protocols were in place at all times during filming “ensuring patient’s welfare was paramount, our consent process was rigorous and the stories would be told respectfully,” as she explains.

Accordingly, nothing filmed for the series took place without the approval of a doctor, and no patient was approached without the agreement of a clinician. While all the patients who appear on screen gave consent, there were also follow up meetings afterwards to ensure they were still comfortable with the decision; doctors who assessed their capacity to make those decisions; and further reviews by family members and clinical staff of the filmed footage to ensure the process was one hundred percent ethically responsible.

“At the meetings we described exactly how the patients would appear in the program,” says Wilks, “when well and unwell, and who else would speak about them and their illness.”

However, what struck Wilks most about the people who agreed to be featured in the series “both the first and this series, is how strongly they and their families wanted to advocate for people who suffer from mental illness and their motivation to help others by telling their own story.”

What distinguishes Changing Minds according to Wilks, from other documentaries on the same subject, is that the patients’ stories are unfolding in real time and not being told retrospectively.

“What has not been seen before,” she says, “and therefore is poorly understood, is a person actually experiencing an acute phase of mental illness, seeing it as it happens. The audience actually see and learn what it is like for people to be mentally unwell. It was important to us to always separate the illness from the person and therefore it was crucial that we not only filmed people when unwell, but also when they had recovered. Thereby, providing the basics of storytelling with a beginning, middle, and end.”

Changing Minds: The Inside Story – Series 2 will premiere nationally Oct 6th on the ABC.

Changing Minds win at MHS Awards

Northern Pictures, the team behind Changing Minds: The Inside Story, have been recognised at the 2015 TheMHS conference for their work in Mental Health journalism. In a ceremony in Canberra this week, The Hon Dr Kay Patterson presented the award as part of the 2015 TheMHS Learning Network Conference, an event that brings together people interested in improving mental health care and systems in Australia and New Zealand.

The ABC was also recognised for its exceptional services to Mental Health for its Mental As... broadcast initiative.

Changing Minds Feedback Page

A selection of feedback on Changing Minds: The Inside Story

"Surely one of the most important programs in Australian television history" The Sydney Morning Herald

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"Challenging, grimly funny and possibly the most memorable, gripping and thought-provoking three hours of TV you're likely to see." The Age, Green Guide

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"I suspect the ABC will have shown few more important and influential series than #ChangingMinds. The whole series is up on #iview. #mentalas" Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC

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"The good judgment, delicacy and attention to detail on display throughout the production resulted in a magnificent TV event that had everyone here feeling ten feet tall" Phil Craig, Head of Factual, ABC Television.

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Thought Changing Minds last night was exceptional. My congratulations to all concerned. Andrew Denton

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Just watching your show on iview. Bloody fabulous. Good on you for producing such an important piece of TV Magda Szubanski

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Wishing you all the best for a hugely successful 3 nights with Changing Minds. There is certainly a buzz. I’ve heard the series being talked about all over the place. Fabulous! Gretel Killeen

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"Thanks for undertaking this difficult task. I think showing the wider public so accurately what takes place is a real public service and may help to normalise what is a very common occurrence but one not often seen. I feel privileged to have had a small part in it." Rob Wheeler, Legal Aid NSW

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In my opinion this is a profound piece of television, which sensitively follows the patients who generously agreed to share their journey to recovery, and give hope to others affected by mental illness.

I believe the series will do much to raise awareness and challenge the stigma and misconceptions of mental illness. As a community it is important we encourage open discussion about mental health issues and I believe this TV series will start many important conversations.

- Dr Mary Foley, Director General of Health, NSW Government

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Initially I was concerned that filming might cause distress to our consumers and their families and that staff would not wish to participate and would find the presence of the film crew in clinical areas to be intrusive and disruptive.

While I was somewhat reassured by initial meetings with the production team, who I found to be collaborative, warm and enthusiastic, I remained somewhat sceptical until I saw the first rough cut of the footage.

I had not expected to see something that made me laugh, choke up and kept me engaged from start to finish.

It’s impossible not to care for the people whose stories you see.

I came away confident that the program will give viewers a better understanding of the challenges faced by people who experience mental health problems, their families and loved ones and the staff who do such a great job in caring for them.

- SWSLHD Transitional Director Mental Health Dr Claire Jones

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When one of our mental health inpatients Patrick said, “I used to think people with mental illness were weak…and they were pretending to get sympathy or benefits. Obviously I don’t think that now.” it was clear that we had done the right thing by allowing the Northern Pictures crew into Liverpool Hospital’s Mental Health Service. If we are to help shift public opinion on mental illness and remove the stigma that surrounds it people needed to see the touching stories of the patients and their families.

With one in five people being experiencing mental illness in their lifetime, there are few people who are not affected by the illness in some way, either themselves or through others.

While mental illness is not as stigmatised as it used to be, there are still many myths about what it is like to live with a mental illness, what the treatments are and what the recovery journey holds.

While we recognised that mental health patients are vulnerable, it was clear after speaking to patients and their families, that some people wanted their story told. They wanted to increase public understanding and debate about mental illness and to remove the secrecy surrounding it.

With the support of the Chief Executive we hoped that by agreeing to take part in the program our mental health patients and staff would have an opportunity to challenge common misconceptions and provide inspiration to others.

- James Yeandel, Director of Media and Communications

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From Twitter:

#MentalAs is probably the best idea in television history. Spreading the message of "No one's alone" so openly is fantastic. Awesome job ABC

#ChangingMinds on @ABCTV, & the whole #MentalAs week; possibly the most outstanding thing I've ever seen in the media

#MentalAs #changingminds @ABCTV you have done more for mental illness in a week than govts have done in decades. #thankyou

I don't think I've ever seen such a stunning documentary as #ChangingMinds tonight on @ABCTV

Well, @postboxadam can attest I spent most of #ChangingMinds in tears. It brings so much of my own experience into full relief. #MentalAs

Fascinating and compelling. Thanks to all who have made it possible. #ChangingMinds. More tomorrow night 8.30pm #ourABC #MentalAs

@ABCTV @northernpics #changingminds now trending nationally on twitter! Great to see Australia joining the conversation. #MentalAs #ourABC

A unique insight into lived experience on the ABC, it should be mandatory watching for all: #MentalAs #MentalHealthWeek

Compassionate television. Educational. "Therapeutic alliance" great insights between patient and doctors #mentalas #ChangingMinds

Can we all just agree that the #MentalAs programing by #ourabc is a great use of taxpayer funds. It'd never happen on a commercial channel.

thanks @ABCTV for #ChangingMinds. Family just watched it & we FINALLY had a good conversation about mental illness (& I'm a MH Nurse)

I don't think I've ever seen such a stunning documentary as #ChangingMinds tonight on @ABCTV

Make no mistake, #ChangingMinds on @ABCTV right now is a game-changer for how we view #mentalhealth care in Australia #MentalAs - Black Dog Institute

Sydney Morning Herald Editorial

ABC's Mental As program healing and inspirational

Revelation: Liverpool Hospital's Dr Mark Cross and colleagues altered Australians' perceptions of mental illness on Changing Minds. Photo: Michele Mossop

Australia occasionally experiences an epiphany about what really matters.

This week has been just such a time.

Thanks to the ABC, mental illness has emerged from the dark and entered the hearts of anyone who has seen or heard the inspirational programs in the national broadcaster's Mental As campaign.

Full marks to everyone involved in the initiative corresponding with World Mental Health Week and Mental Health Day on Friday.

Rarely have the ABC's reach, reputation and resources been employed so constructively for the nation's benefit.

Mental illness has been neglected, stigmatised and talked about in hushed tones for too long.

Mental health has been taken for granted, like sunny days and open spaces.

Thanks to Mental As, now we know we have to work at keeping our minds fit for life.

Thanks to the generosity of spirit of patients and family, and the people who help them, now we know that sufferers of mental illness are just like us.

Thanks to the likes of Liverpool Hospital head of psychiatry Mark Cross and his colleagues in Changing Minds – surely one of the most important programs in Australian television history – we now know that within every mentally ill person there is someone who can joke, love and respond to kindness just like us.

Thanks to discussions on radio, we now know that we have to see people, not as they are at their low points, but as their "longitudinal" self: the person they were and the person they can be, with the right treatment now to return them to good health.

And thanks to the changing of so many minds, Australia might be more willing to support research into mental illness.

As ABC managing director Mark Scott says, almost every family and household will encounter mental illness in some way.

Yet we don't have a conversation about it.

We need to talk.

Mental As has been a great conversation starter.

TV Tonight review of 'Changing Minds'

2014-10-06_0011 Central to the success of many documentaries is gaining the access and trust of your subject. It can make or break a good doco.

In ABC’s Changing Minds, Producer Karina Holden from Eye Spy Productions, has managed just that: first-time access to Liverpool Hospital’s Mental Health Unit.

Capturing footage of patients, staff and families, this 3 part doco is sometimes confronting, but never dull. Hearing the perspectives of three groups of people as they all aim for the same outcome -but with differing agendas- is fascinating.

The magnet throughout this series is the patients. All have consented to be filmed (with formal consent given after their recovery) and the spirit of many will draw you in. Grandmother Sandra lost her grip on reality following the death of her brother. She is loud, rude, fragile, brash and impertinent to younger staff who she deems unqualified to deal with her case. And she is infinitely more interesting than anyone you will see on Big Brother.

Sandra represents what Changing Minds seeks to reveal to a wider audience: that losing your grasp on reality can happen to anybody, but gaining it back can remain out of reach. That’s despite the caring efforts of skilled medical staff and the best of intentions by family to facilitate a healthy recovery.

Cameras are there when Sandra, who demands to be released, has her case heard by the authorities. They are also there when her sons discuss her progress. You feel for everybody in the room.

Other patients featured in the series include a man who believes he is pregnant with God’s baby, a man who was brought to Liverpool after an altercation with his neighbours (under the impression he would be there a few hours only) and a man who agrees to electro-conversion therapy -it’s nothing like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, thankfully.

The degrees of health vary from patient to patient. What is remarkable is that most appear to grasp that they are unwell. While the documentary does not shy away from despair, there are also lighter, even funny, moments to avoid this becoming a lesson in worthy storytelling.

Clinical Director Dr. Mark Cross and his team also keep us grounded in the medicine, indicating how patients have progressed, or in some cases, regressed. Behind the professional doctoring, it’s easy to see they are personally connected to those under their care.

Changing Lives has an agenda in mind in broadening our understanding of the issues and the individuals surrounding this most delicate subject, but it achieves it with insightful and entertaining skill.

8:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on ABC

Northern Pictures makes Walkleys longlist for 'Changing Minds' and 'Cronulla Riots'

2014 Walkley Documentary Award – Longlisted finalists announced

Six outstanding documentaries longlisted for the 2014 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism will be screened at the State Library of NSW in Sydney in October, giving the public a free viewing of the finest work in the field over the past year.

The films capture diverse moments in contemporary life and explore the debates surrounding race, religion and mental illness. They range from the National Black Theatre movement that burgeoned in Redfern in the 1960s and 70s, through to the search for a love marriage in Kabul.

All six films will be screened free for the public at the State Library of NSW over the two days of Friday October 17 and Sunday October 19. Each screening is free, but RSVP is essential.For screening times and to book your place, visit http://walkleydoco2014.eventbrite.com.au

The Walkley Documentary Award shortlist of three films will be unveiled at the State Library of NSW on Thursday October 16. The overall winner will be announced at the 59th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism in Sydney on December 4.

2014 Walkley Documentary Award Longlist

“Changing Minds: The Inside Story”

Alison Black, Cian O’Clery, Jenni Wilks and Karina Holden, Northern Pictures

A ground-breaking documentary series, filmed inside the Psychiatric Unit of Liverpool Hospital, which reveals the nature of mental illness in Australia. The judges felt that the filmmakers, through their incisive interviews with patients, doctors and families, take the viewer into a world that has never been seen before. This observational documentary exposes the audience to characters and situations that will inform and enlighten them about mental illness.

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“Love Marriage in Kabul”

Pat Fiske and Amin Palangi,Bower Bird Films

Mahbooba Rawi is an Afghan-Australian woman who has established an orphanage in Kabul. The film follows Abdul, one of Mahbooba’s rescued orphans, as he attempts to negotiate a love marriage. The judges described “Love Marriage in Kabul” as a finely crafted character-based documentary that provides a compelling insight into traditional Afghan culture and the challenges facing this rapidly changing nation.

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“Code of Silence”

Dan Goldberg and Danny Ben-Moshe, Mint Pictures & Identity Films/ABC TV

“Code of Silence” is the story of a fight for an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse at an Orthodox Jewish boys’ school in Melbourne. The judges felt that the use of interview and actuality, rather than the shorthand of voiceover, makes the narrative even more gripping. As the case against the abusers continues to make news, the documentary is timely and ground-breaking.

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“The Redfern Story”

Sue Milliken and Darlene Johnson, Samson Productions

“The Redfern Story” is a history of both a theatre company and a community, told through the story of the Black Theatre Company, which was formed in the political and cultural ferment of Redfern in the 1970s. The judges felt this meticulously researched and carefully structured documentary sheds new light on a significant moment in Australian history that has strong resonance today, when community groups are struggling to stay afloat.

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“Sons and Mothers”

Louise Pascale and Christopher Houghton, Pop Pictures/ABC TV

“Sons and Mothers” uses creative techniques to focus on the abilities, rather than disabilities, of its subjects. The judges felt that by allowing those in the film to tell their own stories, the film makers take a difficult subject and turn it into a compelling documentary.

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“Cronulla Riots: The Day that Shocked the Nation”

Sue Clothier & Jaya Balendra, Northern Pictures and SBS Online

“Cronulla Riots” is a documentary just as relevant today as it was almost 10 years ago, when tensions spilled over on a Sydney beach. The judges felt the film is a beautifully shot, edited and structured documentary that looks at all sides, as well as exploring the local and international events that led to the riots.