Melbourne Documentary Film Festival - Meet curator Emily de Matteis

The inaugural Melbourne Documentary Film Festival will be held 9-11 July 2016. We begin a series interviewing the festival's curators. Here we speak with Emily de Matteis.


What does the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival mean for Melbourne?

Melbourne has long been established as Australia’s cultural and creative hub, and I think adding another film festival, particular a documentary film festival, will further enhance this city’s forward thinking, innovative approach. 

This year will be the first year of the film festival. What are some of the highlights?

Our richly diverse and engaging pool of documentaries has definitely been the highlight of our first year. The privilege of film festivals like the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is to be able to connect with and share the talents of filmmakers from all different walks of life. In doing so, we are able to showcase and celebrate documentaries that shed light on this wonderfully complex world we live in, and I think our program reflects this.

Can you discuss your involvement?

As a senior curator I have helped create our 2016 program; viewing all the submissions and carefully selecting and arranging the documentaries so we have an impressive collection of films. I have also worked with the team for next year’s preparations, and have been working on a world class curatorial training process.

What did you find interesting about the submissions?

I think what most struck me was the diversity of the submissions, not solely the content of the films but the differing levels of production and skills of the filmmakers. There are some big budget, big production documentaries, and some that have been created using the minimal tools at the disposal of the filmmaker.

I think that is the beauty of documentary film, it can be spontaneous and honest, with bad lighting or out of focus, but those elements add to the reality of the film – they are accepted and embraced in documentaries.

What type of feedback have you given the filmmakers? How does that work?

We give feedback to all of the filmmaker’s documentaries, after having reviewed the film we will take time to write a small sentence or two on our thoughts and sometime recommendations for the film. We pride ourselves in being a feedback festival as feedback it is so important to be able to grow and mature as a filmmaker.

Have the documentaries surprised or challenged your point of view?

I think seeing someone’s perspective or story that is different to your own is always on some level surprising or challenging, and I think that is the most important aspect of film, that is how we learn and grow as human beings.

What are you looking to achieve in the film industry and as curator?

As a filmmaker and as a curator I hope to create and share documentaries that influence the changes we need to see in society. I want to help people share their stories and help audiences feel and connect with issues that they cannot access in their own lives.

What have you enjoyed most about being a curator?

I think the best part of being a curator was seeing the immense talent of the filmmakers that exists in the world! And also seeing and learning about all the fascinating stories and issues that I was previous unaware of.

What type of impact would you like this film festival to have?

This film festival celebrates documentary film and filmmakers and will hopefully help bridge the gap that exists between documentary film and its audiences, as there are very limited platforms to showcase documentaries. This festival also aims to highlight the many functions of documentary film, not solely as informative and educational, but as an entertaining and engaging art form.

Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about your film festival?

What does life look like for someone on the other side of the world?


We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela