Here’s what happened in 2017

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TABLOID titleTabloid Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

Tabloid is a hilarious portrait of obsession, delusion and scandal sheet notoriety.

Oscar-winning director Errol Morris presents the fabulous Joyce McKinney (Miss Wyoming 1974). Joyce sees herself as a wholesome woman in love who set out to free her beau from the clutches of the Mormon church. The alternative view held by a British tabloid newspaper is that Joyce is a S&M mistress who kidnapped an innocent Mormon missionary and tied him to a bed for 3 days to deprogram his religious beliefs by having nonstop sex with him.

Who is right? Where is the truth? Ultimately we can’t be sure, but it is Joyce McKinney’s mental gymnastics that Morris is ultimately interested in as she attempts to explain away such a bizarre and contradictory story.
As Joyce tellingly says, “You know, you can tell a lie long enough till you believe it”

View trailer here

Following the film there will be a lively panel and audience discussion on

Using the film Tabloid as a basis for the discussion, our panel will debate “Truth and the media in our “post fact” age”.  In a world where anyone can and does say anything, has “truth” finally been sacrificed on the altar of spin, image and presentation?

Panellists Margaret Simons, John van Tiggelen, Anna Hedigan, and David Thrussell in discussion with Festival Director, Geoffrey Smith.

 Saturday 22nd July smallerPoint and Shoot title

Point and Shoot“Everybody creates their idealized image of how they want to be seen and who they want to be.” So says Matthew VanDyke, a 25 yo from Baltimore with OCD who rebels against his cosy home life and takes what he calls “a crash course in manhood”.  Armed with a camera and his own exceptional brand of honesty, Matthew decides to travel to every Arab country on a motorbike. What happens in Libya changes his life forever.

Winner   Grand Jury Prize Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Hollywood Reporter  – “An extraordinary and quietly disturbing film”

View trailer here

Skype Q&A with director Marshall Curry after the film.

TSOTE title

The Salt of the Earth Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival 2017For the last 40 years, the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has been travelling the world documenting an ever changing humanity. He has witnessed international wars, starvation, exodus and poverty, but now, he is embarking on the discovery of pristine natural environments as part of a tribute to the planet’s enduring beauty. In this simply stunning Oscar nominated film, Salgado’s life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano, and by their fellow photographer and friend, Wim Wenders.

View trailer here


Deep Water Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

On the surface, this is a film about the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe around the world yacht race. But as we quickly discover, it’s actually about the unravelling of a man’s mind as he faces the awful inevitability of a single decision he has made.

Donald Crowhurst’s sea journey was made before satellite positioning. When he sailed over the horizon he was, in effect, totally alone in a place of absolute isolation. As the race progresses we start to experience this intimidating loneliness and the horrifying psychological pressures the racers put themselves under.

Crowhurst begins to crack, and when faced with a very difficult decision at sea, he radios in and tells a small white lie. But no sooner had he said it, than the consequences of that lie grow and expand and became ever more complex and irreversible.

A startling and spellbinding look into a forgotten corner of history, and one man’s deeply troubled mind.

Live Skype Q&A with director, Louise Osmond, after the film.

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Cartel Land Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

This film is classified MA15+

How do good men become bad? In a Mexican context one has to look no further than the “autodefensas” (self defence) movement of a few years ago, and its charismatic leader Jose Mireles. He rose up against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel and brought the people of his region with him. They won, but then the hard part for Mireles really began – knowing what to do with his power.

Cartel Land also looks at another vigilante on the other side of the border. Like Mireles, Tim “Nailer” Foley claims to be bringing his own brand of justice to a society where law and order has failed. In Arizona’s infamous “Cocaine alley”, he heads a small paramilitary group called Border Recon whose goal is to stop the Cartels from coming across into the U.S.

With unprecedented access to Mireles and Foley, this is a gripping and visceral meditation on the breakdown of law and order and the blurry line between good and evil.

WINNER   Best US Documentary Sundance 2015
WINNER   Outstanding Directorial achievement, Directors Guild of America 2015

View trailer here

Sunday 23rd July smallerHARRY AND SNOWMAN title

Harry and Snowman Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

Dutch immigrant, Harry deLeyer, came to the United States after World War II with a few dollars in his pocket.  He loved horses but couldn’t afford a thoroughbred, so he went to an auction one day and rescued a broken down Amish plough horse from the slaughter truck for just $80. Harry named him Snowman.

In less than two years Harry and Snowman went on to win the nation’s top show jumping honours, beating the rich New Yorkers at their own sport.  They became famous, travelled around the world together, and allowed Harry’s whole family to take up the sport. This is a very moving film for both adults and children, as it shows us how a chance meeting at a Pennsylvania horse auction saved both Harry and Snowman, and lead to a friendship that lasted a lifetime.

View trailer here


Tabloid Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

What sort of Australia do you imagine we live in? Like the classic 1971 film Wake in Fright, Hotel Coolgardie shows us Australia through the experiences of the outsider, in this case two young Finnish girls working to get some travel money. But their working holiday quickly deteriorates into a test of endurance as they are harangued by their new boss, relentlessly pursued and pilloried by booze-addled patrons, and slowly fall prey to the madness and malaise of an environment as claustrophobic as it is isolated.  Pete Gleeson’s very controversial and unflinching debut is a shocking portrait of small-town insularity, fragile masculinity, and the plight of the outsider who must adapt or face the consequences.

This film is classified MA15+ due to strong language and adult themes.

“Gripping, holds you to the very end… an impressive piece of work”  David Stratton

“An 83 minute cringeathon” – Australian Financial Review

Live Skype Q&A following the film – Guardian journalist Brigid Delaney will be talking with director, Peter Gleeson.

View trailer here

Mugabe and the White African title

Mugabe and the White African Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

Robert Mugabe wants all white farmers out of Zimbabwe. Elize Angula, an African woman lawyer believes otherwise. In the middle is 76 year old Mike Campbell and his family.

Shot covertly through fear of imprisonment, director Lucy Bailey says “we had to smuggle equipment in and out of the country, could tell nobody we were filming, and relied on a lot of brave Zimbabwean fixers who risked their lives getting the rushes out to safety”.

This gripping film shows the violence and intimidation directed towards Campbell, his family and his neighbours; as well as a high stakes Court case where his impassioned African lawyer is determined to take on the Mugabe regime. She says “If we were to lose this case, Africa would have a precedent to say you can discriminate on the basis of colour. And that would be a sad day in history for all of us.”

A fascinating, complex and controversial portrait of post-colonial Africa.
Oscar short listed.  Winner  Best Documentary AFI Silverdocs  2009

Skype Q&A with director Lucy Bailey after the film.

View trailer here

The Cinema Travellers Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

The Cinema Travellers Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

For over 70 years showmen with portable cinemas have brought the wonder of the movies to remote Indian villages. Now, as their large projectors and 35mm films crumble into dust, their audiences want the latest films shown on digital technology. But three men who have worked in the industry all their lives decide to bear a beautiful burden – to keep the world’s last travelling cinemas alive. A truly magical film.

Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at Cannes 2016.


Here’s a reminder of our 2016 programme


PRESUMED GUILTY 2009/Mexico/Roberto Hernández, Geoffrey Smith/87 mins

Tonio Hi ResPresumed Guilty is the story of two young lawyers and their incredible struggle to free Toñio, picked up off the street in Mexico and condemned for a crime he didn’t commit.

Shot over 3 years with unprecedented camera access to the Mexican court and prison systems, this observational film is highly dramatic and full of real suspense.
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Winner of an Emmy and over 10 major International awards.

Followed by a Q&A with director Geoffrey Smith and Christine Nixon, former Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police.
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DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE 1998/Iran UK/Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini/80 mins

DIVORCE 3Riveting, tragic, hilarious, and very revealing, this observational film shows us the intimate circumstances of 4 Iranian women doing battle inside one of Tehran’s Kafka-esque divorce courts. Considered a documentary classic.

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Winner of a BAFTA and numerous other major International awards.

Followed by a Q&A with film director, Kim Longinotto.
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MARWENCOL 2010/USA/Jeff Malmberg/83 mins

MARWENCOL 2010/USA/Jeff Malmberg/83 minsMarwencol is a strange and very beautiful documentary about the grey area between obsession and art — about the compulsive need to create something when the world leaves you with nothing. Its subject is Mark Hogancamp, a small-town nobody with an epic inside him.

Winner of over 25 major International awards.

Followed by a Q&A with film director, Jeff Malmberg.
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MY ARCHITECT 2003/USA/Nathaniel Kahn/116 mins

MY ARCHITECT 2003/Nathaniel Kahn/USA/116 minsLouis Kahn was one of the 20th Century’s greatest architects, yet his personal life was full of secrets and chaos. He died bankrupt and unidentified in the men’s room at Penn St station in New York, and at his funeral the three separate families he had juggled all his life met each other for the first time.

In a beautiful and tender homage to a father he barely knew whilst he was alive, his son Nathaniel takes us on a global journey to discover who his father really was.  View trailer

Winner of an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.
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SPEED SISTERS 2015/Palestine/Amber Fares/78 mins

SPEED SISTERS 2015/Palestine USA/Amber Fares/78 mins

The Speed sisters are the first all-women racing car team in the Middle East. They’re bold, they’re fearless, and they’re tearing up tracks all over Palestine!

Winner of a number of International awards.

Followed by a Q&A with film director, Amber Fares.  View trailer
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MAD HOT BALLROOM 2005/USA/Marilyn Agrelo/105 mins

MAD HOT BALLROOM 2005/USA/Marilyn Agrelo/105 mins

A candid and very funny family film about early teen New York City public school kids waltzing and foxtrotting their way through the city’s ballroom dancing competition. This film started the whole media craze with ballroom dancing, and is fantastic family viewing!  View trailer

Winner of eight International awards.
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2006/Denmark/Pernille Rose Grønkjær/84 mins

THE MONASTERY: MR VIG AND THE NUN 2006/USA/Pernille Rose Grønkjær/84 minsWhat happens when a misanthropic 82-year-old Danish recluse who has never known love, meets a headstrong Russian nun who has come to transform his run-down castle into a Russian Orthodox monastery?

Winner of 14 major International awards.
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THE OVERNIGHTERS 2014/USA UK/Jesse Moss/102 mins

THE OVERNIGHTERS 2014/USA UK/Jesse Moss/102 minsDesperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local pastor opens his doors to help them, but incurs the wrath of the local community and ultimately finds himself in a moral nightmare of his own making.

The most incredible last 10 minutes of any film you are likely to see.
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Followed by a Q&A with film director, Jesse Moss.

Sundance Film Festival winner plus a number of other International awards.
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THE WOLFPACK 2015/USA/Crystal Moselle/90 mins

THE WOLFPACK 2015/USA/Crystal Moselle/90 minsUntil 2010 six teenage brothers had spent their entire lives locked away from society in a downtown Manhattan housing project. All they knew of the outside world is what they had gleaned from the movies they watched obsessively (and recreated meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escaping their father and discovering the world outside their cramped apartment. Compulsive viewing.   View trailer

Winner of numerous International awards.
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