Documentary Australia Foundation Award 2016

Sydney Film Festival is honoured to present the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary. This prestigious competition is now in its eighth year.

The prize is supported by Documentary Australia Foundation with a $10,000 cash partnership and an additional donation of $5,000 from an anonymous Sydney Film Festival Director’s Cut Patron

Up to 10 films are selected for the competition, which acknowledges excellence in documentary production and is open to films of any length.

The 2016 Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary was awarded to In the Shadow of the Hill directed by Dan Jackson; with a special mention going to Sascha Ettinger Epstein's Destination Arnold

For the full list of past winners, visit the SFF Living Archive.


Award supported by

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe

Four traumatised refugees perform in a challenging theatre production about their lives: the film debut of theatre director Ros Horin.

Baxter and Me

In this charming documentary, award-winning Sydney director Gillian Leahy (My Life Without Steve) combines her two great passions: dogs and films.

Constance on the Edge

The challenge of settling in a new country is compounded by memories of the past in this poignant documentary, focusing on a gutsy and big-hearted mother of six living in Wagga Wagga.

Destination Arnold

The moving story of two determined Indigenous women with a dream to make it to the Arnolds – an amateur bodybuilding competition being held in Australia for the first time.


When Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photograph, millions saw it worldwide. In her documentary debut, Brumfitt explores the global issue of body loathing.

Hotel Coolgardie

Two Finnish girls on working visas head to a remote WA mining town for a three-month stint behind the bar of the local pub. Shocking, amusing and unexpectedly moving.

In the Shadow of the Hill

The residents of Rio de Janeiro's largest slum seek justice for a local man they believe has been murdered by the police, a documentary debut from Australian Dan Jackson.

On Richard's Side

Filmed over three decades, this intimate documentary charts the life-story of Richard, a young man with a complex disability since birth.

The Opposition

CANCELLED: A David-and-Goliath battle between the residents of the Paga Hill settlement, Port Moresby, and a development company with plans for an international hotel and marina.

Zach's Ceremony

Shot over six years, this is a remarkable portrait of a young man struggling with identity and his father's expectations, as he heads towards adulthood.