Six Projects to Share in $150,000 Shark Island Foundation Feature Docs Pitch Funding

Learn more about the projects awarded funding in the pitch at AIDC 2024

In November 2023, producers were invited to submit projects for the second Shark Island Foundation Feature Docs Pitch as part of their application for AIDC’s Cut to the Chase marketplace, with $100,000 in development funding on the table – an increase of $50,000 on the first year. 

Shark Island Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation dedicated to funding documentary filmmaking in Australia. Foundation Chair Ian Darling and Executive Director Kate Hodges indicated that, through the pitch, they were seeking to support films with “clearly identifiable audiences and strong engagement strategies, realistic budgets and funding strategies, and the potential to inspire social change.”

Shark Island Foundation were so inspired by the calibre of projects presented as part of Cut to the Chase at AIDC 2024, that development grants totalling $150,000 were awarded to six films in a surprise decision, announced during the 2024 AIDC Awards presentation on 6 March.  

‘We were extremely impressed with the quality of the film projects this year, and could especially see the impact that immediate development funding would have,” said Ian Darling.

“We felt the need to act quickly so these important stories could be told. Sometimes you just need to go 50% over budget for a great cause! Partnering with AIDC was a great way for us to meet filmmakers from across the country – Cut to the Chase is always an exciting pitching forum.”

As well as the six projects receiving development funding, two other projects were singled out for advanced support.

“We also met two teams we felt were ready to move beyond development and we have offered Letters of Interest to We Are Jenni and The Pledge and invited them to apply for production funding,” said Kate Hodges.

“Both films have brought together strong, dynamic teams to tell complex stories with sensitivity and compassion.”

To learn more about the successful projects in the second Shark Island Foundation Feature Docs Pitch, you can read Kate Hodges’ comments below.

Shark Island Foundation Chair, Ian Darling, announcing funding recipients at the 2024 AIDC Awards

It’s Not About the Food

Grant $15,000

25 years ago filmmaker Jason Christou lost himself to an eating disorder. But when seeing his son’s first breaths teaches him the most valuable lesson about his own body image, he claws back through the fog of his lived experience to unpick its root causes – resolving to reckon with his past to ensure his son doesn’t inherit the shame that silently plagued and nearly took his Dad’s life when he was 14.

Director Jason Christou

Producers David Elliot-Jones & Naomi Ball

“Jason’s pitch was honest and brave, sharing a very personal story about an issue we feel needs to be better understood. We know Jason will courageously and beautifully explore this silent eating disorder crisis. Partnering with impact specialist Naomi Ball, the potential for a strong impact campaign is already evident.”

Body Heat

Grant $20,000

Body Heat is a First Nations electronic music documentary that explores the connection between the oldest living culture in the world and dance music. From the rhythms of ceremony to the beating heart of the dance floor – it’s all connected.

Producer / Director Talia Liddle

Executive Producer Samuel Nuggin-Paynter

“It was impossible not to be swept up by Talia’s passion and electrifying artistic vision for this story. We are delighted to be supporting an emerging, First Nations filmmaker with a film we know will resonate with a young audience and one that will bring together an exciting First Nations creative team.”

The C Word

Grant $50,000

How climate lies spread, who they mislead and how to stop them.

Director Tosca Looby

Producer Karina Holden

“With a track record for making films that shift thinking and create real change, Tosca and Karina combining to tackle one of the most urgent global issues was a compelling proposition. We know the power of archive to reveal the truth and love the potential of this approach and ambition of this project to unpick the disinformation and lies that have led us to the precipice of climate disaster.”


Grant $20,000

Beneath the glittering Sydney skyline, young doctor Daniel Nour and his team of volunteers work from converted vans, striving to deliver healthcare to an increasing number of people who are falling through the cracks. 

Directors John-Paul McElwee & Pete Ward

Producer Rebecca Bennett

“Shark Island Foundation supported Streetside with a development grant at AIDC in 2023 and are pleased to see how this engrossing, observational film has evolved over the year. The care and commitment demonstrated to the film’s participants, willingness to take the time needed to develop this story, and the craftmanship JP and Pete bring to the subject, make it easy to continue to support this team.”

In Focus

Grant $15,000

An intimate and epic journey into the reality of a courageous reporter who is haunted by his past.

Director Barat Batoor

Producer Leeanne Torpey

‘Barat shared some of his extraordinary photos with us and it was immediately obvious that this body of work and the rare footage he captured as he fled Afghanistan would make a timely and compelling film. Leeanne brings impact expertise, refugee advocacy experience and networks, along with heart and dedication and we’re pleased to support her as a first-time producer.”

War Criminals

Grant $30,000

An incendiary, character-driven exploration of suspected allied war crimes in Afghanistan, delving into the moral ambiguities, human tragedies, and systemic failures in warfare through the eyes of five key insiders.

Producer/Director Dan Jackson

Executive Producer Simon Nasht

“A strong team and a powerful pitch. This is a story that has seen plenty of headlines and news reports over the years but one that lends itself to an in-depth, character driven, gritty examination by a filmmaker of Dan’s skill and talent.”

The Shark Island Foundation Feature Docs Pitch took place during Cut to the Chase at AIDC 2024.


Main Image: Still from In Focus, photo by Barat Batoor


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