‘Melbourne: A City Sleeps’ is a must-see before the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival ends

‘Melbourne: A City Sleeps’ is a must-see before the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival ends

Image by Shawn Ang
Words by Tom Parker

Plus five other films you can’t miss before the festival comes to an end.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF) has enlivened our virtual screens for the last month at a time where we’ve needed it most. Previously an event broadcasted in a physical capacity, MDFF had to quickly adapt as a result of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

What’s resulted is a stellar all-online extravaganza.

With viewing prices ranging from $8 for one stream up to $100 for unlimited screenings, MDFF allows you to create your ideal programme at an accessible cost. With a myriad of international, Australian and Melburnian documentaries, and a focus on women in film and Indigenous storytelling, MDFF’s selection seeks to bring you the forward-thinking, thought-provoking documentaries of the future.

The festival comes to a close on Sunday but with another weekend of lockdown looming, there’s never been a better time to explore everything MDFF has to offer. So without further ado, here are six groundbreaking flicks you can’t miss before the festival comes to a close.

Melbourne: A City Sleeps

A groundbreaking short documentary that shines the torch on Melbourne, a city regularly alive with activity and fervour, that has since been felled by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the city sleeps, with barely a soul on its streets, Jamie van Leeuwen took out his video camera to capture the phenomenon before him. An enthralling story for all Melburnians.

Explore the short doco here.  


Ever considered the concept of ice freediving? It sounds like quite the abhorrent activity – jumping deep into frosted waters on just a single breath. Most divers will explore the chilliest depths with a wetsuit and breathing apparatus in tow, but not Kiki Bosch. The Holland native takes to some of the world’s coldest waters in just a pair of bathers seeking her own personal emancipation. Join Bosch on her journey as she explores the icy expanses of Greenland, Finland and beyond.

Check out the doco out here.

Insert Coin

A doco for the retro-gaming curious, Insert Coin takes us to the back of an inconspicuous Chicago factory – a space that has given rise to some of the world’s greatest-ever video games. This is the story of Midway Games, the US video game developer responsible for legendary games such as Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Cruis’n, Rampage and Spy Hunter. Fascinating stuff.

Give it a run here.

The Submarine Case

Kim Wall was one of Sweden’s brightest journalists, yet on August 10, 2017, she succumbed to a devastating tragedy. Boarding the midget submarine UC3 Nautilus with the intent of interviewing its owner, Danish entrepreneur Peter Madsen, she was reported missing after the sub failed to return. The following morning, the vessel was found sunken and days later, Wall’s dismembered remains were found scattered throughout the area. Madsen was consequentially arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in April 2018. A spine-tingling but captivating watch.

Watch The Submarine Case here.

The Walrus and the Whistleblower

The intriguing story of walrus whisperer and activist Phil Demers is told through short documentary, The Walrus and the Whistleblower. Speaking out for the animal rights of the walruses he adores so much, Demers finds himself at the centre of an international movement to end animal captivity. What will come of Demers’ efforts?

Find out more about this doco here.

After the Earthquake

The 2015 Nepalese earthquake killed thousands and left a developing nation in tatters. With hosts of families forced to relocate to temporary housing and attempt to start their lives again, where is it from here? After the Earthquake tells the grueling story of these Nepalese civilians who are still faced with ongoing living debilitation years on from the tragedy.

Watch this doco here.

Australia’s Hidden Shame: The True Roo Story

It’s the story no Australian knows about, yet it’s one of the biggest tragedies gripping our nation. More than ten million kangaroos have died of disease and starvation across Australia in the past five years. The population growth of kangaroos has proved unsustainable and with drought creating dire environments for these Australian treasures to live and survive in, the situation is catastrophic.

Find out more about this sinister story here.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival takes place online from now until Sunday August 2. Score yourself some tickets here.

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