International Documentaries

The 2016 Sydney Film Festival International Documentary program demonstrates that documentaries continue to be the New Black of the cinematic world: inventive (particularly when they meld with fiction), informative, shocking and downright entertaining.

Ants on a Shrimp: Noma in Tokyo

Celebrity chef René Redzepi shuts up his acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, and heads to Japan to craft a locally inspired 14-course menu in this tantalising documentary.

Cinema, mon amour

A droll and beguiling tale of eccentric manager and movie tragic Victor Purice's tireless attempts to breathe life into one of the last remaining cinemas in Romania.

Europe, She Loves

An excitingly original hybrid documentary about four young couples in today's Europe, viewed both in and out of the bedroom, by award-winning filmmaker Jan Gassmann.

Fire at Sea

Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at Berlinale 2016, this striking Italian documentary explores the tragic refugee crisis on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

A Flickering Truth

A dedicated band of Afghan cinephiles struggle to preserve their country's vital film history in this impassioned documentary from Pietra Brettkelly (Maori Boy Genius, SFF 2012).

Free to Run

This illuminating record of the recent history of running focuses on the people's fight against antiquated athletic authorities to allow women and amateurs to join in the fun.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

The 2016 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, on the subject of honour killings in Pakistan, screens with her 2012 Oscar winner Saving Face.

Heart of a Dog

Artist and musician Laurie Anderson's poignant meditation on love, childhood, stories and belief, is also an ode to her late mother, partner Lou Reed and beloved dog Lolabelle.

Hot Type: 150 Years of the Nation

As the world's printing presses stop rolling, two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple takes us inside America's oldest continuously published weekly magazine The Nation.

In Jackson Heights

Celebrated documentarian Frederick Wiseman explores New York's Jackson Heights – one of the world's most diverse neighbourhoods – in his familiar fly-on-the-wall style.

Jheronimus Bosch – Touched by the Devil

The fantastical and utterly unique imagery of Dutch medieval painter Jheronimus Bosch is celebrated and interrogated in this whodunit from the obsessive world of art.

Kate Plays Christine

An award winner at Sundance, this is a provocative interpretation of the events leading to the first televised suicide, directed by innovative US filmmaker Robert Greene (Actress).

Lampedusa in Winter

An award-winning documentary filmed on the isolated Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, after the tourists have left, as the refugees in their rickety boats continue to arrive.

Life, Animated

An award winner at Sundance 2016, Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams' heart-warming documentary tells the unique story of a boy with autism and his love of Disney films.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

Werner Herzog, director of such classics of the non-fiction realm as Grizzly Man, turns his inimitable eye on the evolution of the Internet.

Lost and Beautiful

This visually stunning, award-winning film blends fantasy, fiction and fact, around a pollution scandal and a decaying Bourbon palace in southern Italy.

Mr. Gaga

This multi-award winning documentary chronicles the life and work of modern dance choreographer Ohad Naharin, offering a glimpse into the artistic genius' creative process.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

A music documentary gem from Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville about the legendary cellist and a diverse group of dedicated musicians.

National Bird

The US drone program, as seen from the point of view of three whistle-blowing former Air Force analysts: more chilling and sensational than anything Hollywood could imagine.

Night Parrot Stories

In his ode to this elusive nocturnal bird, award-winning director Robert Nugent riffs on the myth-like search for its existence in the remote deserts of Australia.

No Home Movie

The final film by influential Belgian director Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975) is a profoundly moving mother-and-daughter portrait.

Oyster Factory

An exquisite observational documentary filmed at an oyster factory on the Inland Sea, directed by Kazuhiro Soda (Campaign, SFF 2007), that embodies the changing face of Japan.

Presenting Princess Shaw

An unlikely viral sensation is born when YouTube mash-up artist Kutiman encounters a troubled New Orleans singer, in this uplifting documentary from Israeli director Ido Haar.


A lively portrait of the charismatic dancer and choreographer, Benjamin Millepied, in the throes of creating an original piece for the Paris Opera Ballet.

The Road

Zhang Zanbo's astonishing film about the construction of a Chinese superhighway, screened in competition at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.


Filmed on the world's largest salt flat in southwest Bolivia, a remote and stunning landscape, this is the poignant story of a traditional man facing a changing world.


This year's winner of the world documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance is the story of how a gutsy Afghani refugee's love of rap music changed her life.

Suzy & the Simple Man

The ‘simple' life is never easy! A love story and a candid portrait, eight years in the making, of Suzy and her adventurer husband Jon Muir living off the land in regional Australia.


A jaw-dropping documentary on the surprisingly sinister world of competitive endurance tickling, from New Zealand co-directors Dylan Reeve and journalist David Farrier.

Under the Sun

Shot in North Korea, veteran Vitaly Mansky's award-winning documentary takes an inventive approach to filmmaking; the finished film caused a diplomatic row.


This absorbing exposé of Anthony ‘sexting scandal' Weiner's 2013 New York mayoral campaign won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Winter at Westbeth

This delightful documentary about creativity and ageing chronicles a year in the life of the Westbeth building in New York, which was turned into housing for artists in 1970.

Zero Days

The new documentary from Oscar winner Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, SFF 2015) is an urgent and frightening exploration of cyberwarfare now.