REGIONALITY CAIRNS SPEAKERS & DECISION MAKERS

RITA BAGHDADI
Filmmaker & Co-Founder, Lady & Bird Films

​​Rita Baghdadi is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her intimate, character-driven work has been supported by Sundance, Tribeca, Film Independent, and the International Documentary Association and has aired on Netflix, HBO, and in top festivals worldwide. Rita’s latest feature Sirens (Sundance 2022), praised as “utterly charming” by the Hollywood Reporter, was acquired by Oscilloscope for theatrical release this year. Rita’s previous films include My Country No More (Independent Lens 2019), winner of Best Feature at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and City Rising (Best Social Issue Film, LA Emmy Awards 2018). Rita is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and board member of GlobalGirl Media. Recently, she co-founded Lady & Bird Films (Subject, Tribeca 2022) and is currently working on several new projects.

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AARON FA'AOSO
DIRECTOR, PRODUCER & WRITER, LONE STAR PRODUCTIONS

Aaron is a co-founder of Lone Star – a production company based in Cairns, Queensland. Widely known for his appearances in ABC’s Black Comedy, Aaron was was most recently seen in the series Reef Break (ABC US), Going Places on NITV, and as host of two seasons of his food documentary series Strait to the Plate on SBS/NITV. Behind the camera, Aaron wrote and directed the short film Sharp Eye for SBS series Bit of Black Business, the VR documentary Every King Tide for SBS, which was selected by the Cannes Film Festival and the Sheffield Film Festival, and an episode for the Elements series The Gubau Gizul of Saibai for NITV and Channel 4 France. Aaron is also the producer on the Straight Out Of The Straits series for ABC iview, and in 2012 produced and starred opposite UK actor Brian Cox in the ABC drama The Straits, based on his original idea. In 2016, his production company Lone Star, along with Bunya Productions, produced Blue Water Empire, a drama documentary series on the history of the Torres Strait Islands. Aaron was the producer attachment on the multi-award-winning feature film Goldstone and was a member of the 2015/16 Indigenous Producers Initiative with Screen Australia. For the past two years, Aaron has been training young Torres Strait Islanders in filmmaking as part of a TAFE-accredited My Pathways program.

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CHRISTOPHER AMOS
DIRECTOR, PRODUCER & CEO, CHRYSAOR PRODUCTIONS

Christopher Amos is an Australian British director/writer and producer. In 2021 Christopher was nominated for Best Director Feature Documentary at the Australian Directors Guild Awards for Hating Peter Tatchell, the critically-acclaimed life story of the controversial human rights activist, starring Ian McKellen, and Stephen Fry. A longtime journalist and LGBT+ activist, Christopher has created entertainment for three decades including his roles as Editor-in-Chief of Bent magazine in the UK and owner of iconic club Manbar in London’s trendy Soho neighbourhood. In 2015 Christopher made his feature-length documentary debut by producing the cult film Dressed as a Girl, which premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Christopher graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film & Television from the Queensland University of Technology, studied a Masters in Scriptwriting from the London School of Film, Media & Performance, and received diplomas in Producing and Documentary Filmmaking from Raindance in London.

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VERONICA FURY
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / PRINCIPAL, WILDBEAR ENTERTAINMENT

Veronica Fury is an Executive Producer, Producer, and Principal of factual production company WildBear Entertainment. With over 75 commissioned television series and feature documentaries to her name, some of her prominent feature credits include the AACTA-nominated Brock: Over the Top (Universal Pictures), Iron Fists & Kung Fu Kicks (Netflix), and Hating Peter Tatchell, executive produced by Elton John, which is now streaming on Netflix. Veronica’s recent television credits include Gem Hunters Down Under (7mate), And We Danced (ABC) and Aussie Mega Mechanics and Demolition Down Under (Discovery). Veronica works with the major television Australian broadcasters as well as key international broadcasters/streamers including ZDF, Nat Geo, Netflix, BBC, TG4, France 5, and Arte. Her work is represented globally via a broad range of leading distributors. Veronica has a passion for developing emerging talent and regularly participates in industry mentorship programs. She maintains an active role in the Australian screen industry with a membership in Screen Producers Australia as well as positions on the Board of Curriculum at Bond University, RMC and the Industry Advisory Board of Griffith Film School. Veronica regularly attends key international markets including AIDC, MIPCOM, and WCSFP.

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OLI HARBOTTLE
HEAD OF DISTRIBUTION & ACQUISITIONS, DOGWOOF

Oli has been at Dogwoof since 2006 and was part of the original team who made the decision to specialise in documentaries the following year. As Head of Distribution and Acquisitions, he is responsible for acquisitions and overseeing all film releases, which in recent years have included successes such as The Act of Killing, Blackfish, The Look of Silence, Cartel Land, Weiner, Life, Animated, Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, and Apollo 11. Oli is now also actively involved in the sourcing of projects for Dogwoof’s new production fund and recent executive producer credits include Maiden, Halston, Mystify: Michael Hutchence, and Cunningham.

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BETTINA DALTON
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / PRINCIPAL, WILDBEAR ENTERTAINMENT

Before her role as Executive Producer and Principal of WildBear, Bettina Dalton was a Managing Director of WildFury and owner of stock footage company Content Mint. While Bettina’s first passion is natural history, she has produced and directed diverse genres of award-winning content for all Australian and most international television broadcasters, including ZDF, Arte, NDR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic, and Discovery Channels. Bettina’s most recent projects include series such as The Coral Triangle (2013, ZDF/Arte, Discovery Asia), Wild Australia (2014, ZDF, NDR, National Geographic), Big Red (2014, National Geographic), and The Wildest River (2014, Malaysian co-production). Bettina’s film, the Emmy-nominated and multi-award-winning feature documentary Valerie Taylor: Playing With Sharks (Madman/Dogwoof) was officially selected to premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2021 and was acquired by Nat Geo films for Disney Plus. She is now in production on a feature documentary with Rachel Ward about her journey as a Regen Farmer, and in pre-production on a feature documentary about a woman who rehabs hummingbirds in Hollywood.

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JOSIE MASON-CAMPBELL
HEAD OF UNSCRIPTED, FREMANTLE MEDIA

Josie is a creative non-scripted specialist who has worked across documentary, factual and entertainment in both commissioning and production roles. Josie is currently the Head of Unscripted at Fremantle Media Australia and has previously held the roles of Head of Unscripted at the ABC and Head of Production and Development for Foxtel. Josie has commissioned and editorially overseen a diverse slate of many award-winning and successful productions including, the International Emmy Award-winning Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds, multi-award-winning Love on the Spectrum, Walkley Award-winning Revelation as well as Fight for Planet A, Logie Award-winning War on Waste, Shaun Micallef’s On The Sauce, Miriam Margoyles Almost Australian, Australia’s Ocean Odyssey, Back in Time for Dinner, the Spicks and Specks Reunion Specials, Home Alone Together, Reputation Rehab, Love it or List it, The Good Cop, Sam Neill’s The Pacific,  Archibald 100 with Rachel Griffiths and Back to Nature with Aaron Pedersen and Holly Ringland. Josie is currently looking for creative partnerships with factual and documentary practitioners who are looking for a path to market with the support of a creatively focused and well-resourced company.

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DANIEL CANTAGALLO
VICE PRESIDENT, CARGO FILM & RELEASING

Daniel Cantagallo is the Vice President of New York-based documentary specialists, Cargo Film & Releasing. He​ has specialised in documentary films as an editor, producer and sales agent. A graduate of Harvard University and the London Film School, he is responsible for development, sales and acquisitions at Cargo, whose latest films include The Conservation Game, Once Upon A Time In Venezuela, Father Of The Cyborgs, The Conductor, and more. Cargo Film & Releasing are New York-based documentary film specialists. We are a global sales agent and distribution company handling quality, cutting-edge independent films worldwide with care.

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JULIAN CARRINGTON
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER & INDUSTRY FUNDS PROGRAMMER, HOT DOCS

Julian Carrington is an Industry Funds Programmer and Distribution Manager at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. He supports the administration of the Hot Docs portfolio of funds and oversees Hot Docs’ distribution marketplace, including the Distribution Rendezvous pitch meeting program and the Doc Shop sales platform. Julian also serves as a programmer with Toronto’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. Previously, he served as an associate programmer with the Toronto International Film Festival, and, from 2015 to 2017, managed the Documentary Organization of Canada’s Festival Concierge service.

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NICKY COOK
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, POV

Nicky Cook is the associate producer at POV, American television’s longest-running showcase for independent nonfiction films. As a member of the programming and production team, he interfaces between artists and PBS, manages post-production and screens submissions for the series. Nicky is also a member of the NeXt Doc Film Collective.

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JENI MCMAHON
DEVELOPMENT & INVESTMENT LEAD, SCREEN AUSTRALIA

Jeni McMahon has produced and financed award-winning factual content throughout Australia for over 20 years. As a producer and co-owner of Rebel Films and a former investment manager at Film Victoria, Jeni has worked with many of Australia’s leading documentary filmmakers. She has a deep understanding of how the industry works from both a creative and financial perspective. As an independent producer, she has worked closely with First Nations communities and creatives on hybrid series such as the iconic and much-loved Bush Mechanics and the online hit, Black As. With over 20 broadcast credits for Australian broadcasters, career highlights include the commission of a replica Bush Mechanics vehicle for permanent display at ACMI, the multi-award-winning Then the Wind Changed (2012 Walkley, 2012 ADG Nomination, 2013 ACCTA, 2013 Logie Nomination), the doco-drama Coniston and the production of Marree Man, Australia’s first “mobi-doc” a made for mobile documentary and a finalist at the 2007 Mipcom Mobile and Internet TV Awards.

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STEPHEN OLIVER
MANAGER OF DOCUMENTARIES, ABC

An award-winning filmmaker, Stephen has brought program-making and impact campaign expertise to his commissioning role at the ABC with great success.Currently Manager of Documentaries at the ABC, Stephen oversees many of the national broadcaster’s biggest hits, including Big DealCracking COVIDLove on the SpectrumReef LIVE, Fight for Planet ABig WeatherAustralia’s Ocean OdysseyRevelationExposed: The Case of Keli LaneWar on Waste and Employable Me. Stephen is passionate about telling stories with real-world impact, and has headed up several ground-breaking shows and game-changing impact campaigns around climate and the environment for the ABC. He believes in the power of storytelling to change the world and is always looking for talent, innovation, and boldness to jump off the screen and into people’s homes. Outside of work, he likes tennis, mountain-biking, and dogs. Oh and his kids, he definitely likes them too.

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JULIE HANNA
MANAGER OF FACTUAL, ABC

Julie has worked extensively as an executive producer, series producer, and director across a wide range of genres. Julie worked as an executive producer for ITV Studios Australia, across a broad range of programmes including factual, lifestyle, entertainment, comedy and long-form documentaries. Julie is passionate about exploring stories that examine social issues and push the boundaries with innovative storytelling techniques. The ABC’s vision is to be the home of Australian conversations, culture and stories. Stories fill our home page, broadcasts and social feeds. They celebrate, reflect and examine who we are as a nation. ABC TV works with independent producers to realise such a vision. ABC Factual commissions programming for ABC main channel, ABC2 and iview. Such commissions to date include Reef LiveOld People’s Home for 4 Year OldsFurther Back In Time for Dinner, Anh’s Brush with Fame, Shaun Micallef’s On the Sauce, Aftermath: Beyond Black SaturdayAustralia TalksRestoration AustraliaBrazen Hussies and Tick F**king Tock (the story of the Doug Anthony Allstars).

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IAN LYNCH
CONTENT DIRECTOR, SCREEN QUEENSLAND

What links Boris Johnson, endangered elephants, crazy architecture, Oklahoma tornadoes, binge drinking, Steve Jobs, Al Qaeda hostages, airport expansion, earthquakes, human rights abuses, ballroom dancing and the Iraq war? They’re some of the topics documented by Ian Lynch in a career that spans two decades in shoots around the world.  Polemics, investigations, obdocs and formats have all helped to hone Ian’s skill in the documentary space. He joins Screen Queensland after a career in the UK, as well as working on projects for US and Australian broadcasters. Ian is an experienced producer, director, and manager of teams in the creative production of network broadcast, online, and streaming content.  His Australian credits include the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent and Four Corners, as well as work for SBS and Audible Australia. His international credits include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITN, Sky, Discovery, National Geographic, PBS and HGTV.

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REGIONALITY CAIRNS PROJECT MENTORS

IAN LYNCH
CONTENT DIRECTOR, SCREEN QUEENSLAND

What links Boris Johnson, endangered elephants, crazy architecture, Oklahoma tornadoes, binge drinking, Steve Jobs, Al Qaeda hostages, airport expansion, earthquakes, human rights abuses, ballroom dancing and the Iraq war? They’re some of the topics documented by Ian Lynch in a career that spans two decades in shoots around the world.  Polemics, investigations, obdocs and formats have all helped to hone Ian’s skill in the documentary space. He joins Screen Queensland after a career in the UK, as well as working on projects for US and Australian broadcasters. Ian is an experienced producer, director, and manager of teams in the creative production of network broadcast, online, and streaming content.  His Australian credits include the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent and Four Corners, as well as work for SBS and Audible Australia. His international credits include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITN, Sky, Discovery, National Geographic, PBS and HGTV.

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IIKKA VEHKALAHTI
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, IV FILMS, TOINEN KASTE LTD & ROUGH CUT SERVICE

Iikka Vehkalahti’s activities as an independent producer from 2015 forward includes the production of Sundance-awarded Machines by Rahul Jain and Raghu Rain: An Unframed Portrait by Avani Rai, which premiered at IDFA 2017. He was a co-producer of Winnie by Pascal Lamche, which was awarded at Sundance, and Chris the Swiss by Anja Komfelt, which premiered at Cannes 2018. He is currently finishing the production of Invisible Demons by Rahul Jain. Rough Cut Service (roughcutservice.com) collects some of the best editors in the world to provide online support to documentary filmmakers with challenging productions. RCS has worked already with more than 100 films from nearly 40 countries, among them winners at Sundance, IDFA and the Berlinare. Iikka is one of the executive producers in Dare To Dream Asia and is part of the building an all-African project Generation Africa (www.steps.co.za). He was a commissioning editor for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE Documentaries, Finland 1998-2015; executive producer for Steps For The Future and one of the series producers for Why Democracy. A visiting professor in Tampere University 2011-2012, he has been involved in or supported numerous international well-known documentaries like Act of Killing, Look Of Silence, Armadillo, Happiness, Don’t Breathe, Placebo, The Ambassadors and Vivan les Antipodes. Before YLE Iikka directed awarded documentaries for Epidem and Musafilm; among them Past is Present, Amal, Inam, Naila, A Man from the Shadow and Tehri – Two Journeys. Iikka has also been lecturing, leading workshops and hosting masterclasses in different European countries, Australia, Kenya, Russia, USA, India, South Africa, DRC, Nepal and Canada.

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JEANIE DAVISON
INDUSTRY AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SCREENWORKS

Jeanie Davison is the Industry Development Manager at Screenworks, a non-profit registered charity based in Northern NSW that supports and services the screen industry across regional Australia, providing industry and professional development, networking initiatives, opportunities and services for screen content creators and workers. Prior to Screenworks, Jeanie managed the documentary development slate at Screen Australia and oversaw joint initiatives including the ABC ‘Art Bites’ series and the Al Jazeera ‘Witness’ commissioning initiative. Before Screen Australia, Jeanie spent 10 years in the UK producing TV programmes for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Five, before taking on head of factual and head of development roles for leading independent production companies in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She’s developed and produced factual programs and documentaries for many international broadcasters, notably Discovery, History Channel, National Geographic, ABC and Seven (Australia), TVNZ and TV3 (New Zealand). She also has extensive experience field producing and directing TV and digital content around the world for high-profile non-profit organisations including UNICEF, Amnesty International and Comic Relief.

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JOHN KASSAB
PRODUCER, PRINCESS PICTURES

John’s career in film launched in 2009 as the sound designer of Shaun Tan’s Oscar-winning animation The Lost Thing and Ariel Kleiman’s groundbreaking short film Deeper Than Yesterday. Shortly after, John received a Winston Churchill Fellowship and eventually relocated overseas where he has produced films in Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Massachettes, Atlanta and London. John’s productions include the acclaimed documentary film 12 O’Clock Boys which premiere at SXSW, the Spanish language Debris which premiered at Telluride, Nobody’s Darling which premiered at Sidewalk Film Festival and the British sci-fi They Wait for Us which premiered at Fantasia Film Festival. John also produced and directed Renaissance Woman, a web series written and performed by Hannah Gadsby. Collectively, his productions have received over 40 international festival and guild awards and nominations. Since returning to Australia, John served a term as president of diversity film education and outreach organisation Cinespace, Inc before joining Princess Pictures as a producer. He is now developing a number of scripted and factual projects as a producer, writer and director including Dirty Thirties which was supported by Screen Australia’s development fund in 2020 and 2021.

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LAUREN VALMADRE
INDUSTRY MANAGER, AIDC

Lauren is an avid non-fiction fan and film industry professional with extensive experience across programming, international sales and distribution both within Australia and overseas. Beginning her career in film festival programming, Lauren most notably held the role of Program Director at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival, as well as programming for the Shadow Electric Outdoor Cinema and running her own film residency at state-of-the-art performance space, Howler. She then moved to Copenhagen, Denmark for three years to work with International Sales Agent LevelK as their Sales & Acquisitions Manager, handling both world sales for their slate and specialising in documentary acquisitions. During her time in the Nordics, Lauren was a tutor for the prestigious international documentary program Dok.incubator, selected as part of the ‘Rising Stars of Nordic Sales and Distributors’ for the 2020 Helsinki International Film Festival and was a member of the Danish Film Academy. Upon her return to Australia, Lauren worked in distribution for Umbrella Entertainment, handling both the monthly digital releases and world sales of classic Australian cinema. Lauren was the former Conference Programmer of AIDC in 2022 and is thrilled to be continuing her work supporting the development of dynamic Australian non-fiction stories and bringing them to global audiences in her role as Industry Manager.

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