Claire Jager

Claire Jager is our Festival Director. Claire hails from the Castlemaine area, and brings a wealth of experience to the Festival. She is a director and producer, with award-winning films to her credit and has worked with the ABC as an Executive Producer; with SBS as a Commissioning Editor (Documentary); with the Australian Film Commission as a development executive, and Screen Australia as Investment Manager for Documentary. Claire will curate the film selections and adjoining panels while over seeing the whole of directions for the Festival.


Our Board

The Castlemaine Documentary Festival is governed by a Board of Directors.


Marylou Verberne initially worked as a corporate lawyer in Australia and Asia before moving into the offices of State and Federal members of parliament as well as a role as the Victorian Director of Social Ventures. She is the co-founder of The Rainbird Group, a provider to the corporate education and leadership sectors, which specialises in executive experiential learning.  Marylou also consults to the film industry on impact strategy and developing philanthropic partnerships. 


Hollie Fifer is currently the Director of Australian Programs at Doc Society and Director of the arts not-for-profit Schoolhouse Studios in Melbourne, Australia.

As a documentary filmmaker, Hollie’s films have screened at festivals and broadcasted within Australia and internationally. THE OPPOSITION, Hollie’s debut feature documentary produced by Media Stockade,  world premiered at Hot Docs and IDFA in 2016 before winning the Grand Prize at FIFO, screening at the UN Human Rights Council, winning Best Documentary Feature at the Oz Flix Independent Film Awards and screening in over 35 countries.

Hollie serves on the Board of the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC)

Debra annear – treasurer

Debra Annear has 25+ years experience in the film and television industry. She has produced award-winning independent documentary films for ABC & SBS Television, and produced and/or managed many hours of television drama & commercials; educational documentary films; feature films; short films; music clips; and training and corporate films. Debra started her career in Adelaide at Newfilms with Justin Milne making television commercials and documentary films for the SAFC. She worked for the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association & Imparja TV in Alice Springs for 3-years; Executive Producer at Film Victoria in the Documentary Division for 2-years; and many years of freelance work for numerous independent producers, AFI, ATOM, AFC, AFTRS, AWG, ASDA, St Kilda Film Festival, Open Channel, Screen Hub and the Seven Network.



Derek Guille spent 25 years with ABC Radio, broadcasting to both regional Victoria and Melbourne. Much of his broadcasting revolved around the arts – visual, musical and performance. Derek and his artist wife Barbie were also involved in establishing and running a successful film society in Warrnambool.


Leonie Van Eyk has a long-standing inclusive and participatory arts practice working within the marginalised community as a film-maker, community artist, facilitator, project manager, mentor and performer. Leonie brings fifteen years of experience to each new project she takes on.


Deane Williams is Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies, Monash University.  Deane is a film historian specialising in documentary film history and Australian documentary authoring or editing 12 monographs and of numerous articles. From 2007-2017 he was foundation editor of Studies in Documentary Film a scholarly journal dedicated to the history and criticism of documentary. He has regularly served in leadership and community engagement positions.


Suzanne Donisthorpe has been an arts broadcaster for over 30 years, working on the various incarnations of the books and arts programs at ABC Radio National. She also worked for a number of years with the sculptor Frank Veldze on a range of creative projects. Her novel Getting Up was published by Pan MacMillan in 2013. Since leaving the ABC in 2015, Suzanne has been closely involved with the local Castlemaine Public radio station MAINfm. She presented the award winning ArtSwank program and worked as the Program Manager and Board member. She currently presents two arts and current affairs shows- Hear Say and The Shout Out.


Ira Barker is a Gunditjmara and Barkindji filmmaker, cook and farmer. Ira edited and released their first documentary in 2021 as part of CVIFF, has contributed to several panel discussions and is working to edit documentary scripts for cultural inclusion. They have also been involved in film distribution since 2016, running the local Family Videoland until it’s closure in 2020.


Tony Jackson has spent more than thirty years making television and documentaries, earning his first stripes at the BBC before becoming Head of Television at Lonely Planet and then Executive Producer/Writer/Director at Chemical Media. Tony has worked with international broadcasters and screen funding bodies in North America, Europe, the Middle East, China and Australia. He’s been twice nominated for a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism and is the winner of a Screen Producers Australia Award.

Meet Our Interns

Becky Adamson – Communications Intern

Becky Adamson is a Master of Media student at RMIT University. She previously studied Drama at Deakin University, where she graduated with Distinction.  Over the years Becky has garnered an appreciation for  documentary cinema, working on numerous amateur and independent film  sets. 

Grace Savage – Film Assets Intern

Grace Savage  is a recent graduate of RMIT University, Melbourne, where she competed her Bachelor of Communication majoring in film. Throughout her studies she has developed a keen interest in filmmaking and documentary film. 

Gabriella Hills – Panels Intern

Gabriella Hills is a recent graduate of RMIT’s Bachelor of Communications (Media), majoring in cinema studies. She has fostered a passion for the film and festival industry throughout her degree, and recently worked as an artistic director and programmer for the Melbourne Overlooked Film Festival. Gabriella has a particular interest in exploring the intersect of gender and film studies and their relationship to both documentary and narrative cinema.

Scroll to Top