Forget having to wade through a program of foreign language romantic comedies and try-hard Cannes contenders about white dudes trying to find themselves—Antenna is a film festival entirely dedicated to documentaries. Gathering the best in nonfiction cinema from Australia and around the world, it's returning to Sydney for the sixth time from October 11-16. Brisbane (October 26-30) and Melbourne (November 2-6) will also be treated to screenings of the best films from the line up.
This year's Antenna promises a bit of everything, from footage filmed in hidden Russian nuclear bunkers to interviews with former members of one of Australia's most notorious cults.
To help you decide where to put your money, here are our picks for the best of the festival. We're giving away tickets to our favourite docos, for screenings in Sydney as well as Melbourne and Brisbane—scroll down to enter below.
City 40 is the codename for Ozersk, the birthplace of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons program. On paper, it's a charming European capital like any other. In person, it's a walled town surrounded by armed guards whose residents are suffering from deadly radiation sickness. This is one of those documentaries where the crew go above and beyond, sneaking through security and interviewing City 40 residents who are risking their lives by going on record. You can read a VICE interview with director director Samira Goetschel here.
Chris Burden was the ultimate performance artist—the definition of a boundary pusher. Trading on controversy, his early work in the 1970s included being locked up, electrocuted and crucified. You might know him for Shoot (1971), where he asked a friend to shoot him with a rifle. Burden earned plenty of notoriety, but gave up on performance art when he determined that too many were misinterpreting his intentions. Including archival footage seen for the first time, this documentary delves deep into the psyche of a man who courted controversy and then gave up on it.
This documentary on Melbourne's most infamous cult provides new insight into Anne Hamilton-Byrne—the disturbingly charismatic yoga teacher and leader of 'The Family' who was convinced she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. 28 children were adopted and kept by the cult, subjected to abuse than included LSD experiments and beatings. Interviewed on camera, the stories they have to tell are pretty chilling.
SERVANT OR SLAVE
Throughout the period of the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal girls were taken from their families and forced into lives of domestic servitude in wealthy white households. As this documentary examines, their lives were more similar to those of slaves than servants, and they suffered frequent abuse and mistreatment. Telling the stories of five women forced to work against their will,
Servant or Slave
gives insight into a devastating government policy that is rarely acknowledged today.
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