The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is back for its seventh year in both a physical and online form for 2022.

Online screenings will take place throughout July (1st-31st), while in-cinema screenings run from the 21st of July until the 31st at Cinema Nova. There’s also much more going on throughout July, including an Open Mic, a conversation with Penelope Spheeris, Masterclasses and more which you can find out about here.

I reviewed five of the documentaries from last year’s festival, and there was plenty of variety on what you could check out, and this year looks no different. There are plenty of Australian documentaries alongside international stuff, ranging from pop culture to immigration and even virtual reality documentaries. 

Here are the top ten documentaries I’m most interested in checking out from the online portion festival. 

Daniel Day-Lewis: The Hollywood Genius

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest actors of all time, and being the only actor ever to win three Best Actor awards at the Academy Awards backs up that statement. This short documentary focuses on the man himself and the methodology behind his acting, something I think any cinema fan would be interested in watching. Lewis is retired after only a handful of films (compared to most actors), so he is something of an enigma. 

Doctor Who I Am

As a Doctor Who fan, this feature documentary which focuses on Matthew Jacobs, the writer of the 1996 TV movie “Doctor Who: The Movie”, is really intriguing. Jacobs’s work on the BBC’s famous Doctor has long been pushed to the side and forgotten by fans, even if Paul McGann’s 8th Doctor was eventually pulled back into the series a few years ago and finally welcomed by fans. This documentary explores the relationship Jacobs has with Doctor Who and its fanbase, the ‘Whovians.’

Frank Miller – American Genius

Comic book creator Frank Miller is considered one of the best to have ever been in the business, but he’s also been, at times, somewhat controversial. He is, without a doubt, one of the most famous comic book creators and one that is still working. Frank Miller – American Genius is directed by Silenn Thomas, who met Miller while serving as an associate producer and then became CEO of Frank Miller Ink in 2019, so it’s an interesting relationship for a documentary. I’m intrigued to watch this one nonetheless. 

Freedom Street

This feature-length documentary explores the story of Joniad, Ashfaq and Azizah, three refugees trapped in Indonesia and unable to enter Australia. Any documentary diving into the cruel and dark history of Australia’s border protection policies will be worth looking into, even if it may be frustrating and hard to watch — though that’s often the sign of a good documentary.

Ice Ice Baby – The Truth: Hip Hop’s First Global

We all know who Vanilla Ice is, don’t we? And the mega-hit that was ‘Ice Ice Baby.’ One of, if not the most famous one-hit-wonder to ever hit the radio. It’s the hip-hop song my parents heard on the radio; it’s the only comparison they had when I started listening to Eminem as a kid. This feature-length documentary delves into the story behind Rob Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice, and the song that took the world by storm… or should I say ice? 

Paper City

Countless atrocities have occurred around the globe in the name of war, and the 1945 bombing of Tokyo that left over 100,000 people dead is one of them. Paper City features Hiroshi Hoshino, Michiko Kiyooka and Minoru Tsukiyama, three elderly survivors of the bombings, who reflect on how they survived and how they feel about the events now. 

Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows

One of the most famous viral videos of the early 2000s was ‘Star Wars Kid’, in which a 15-year-old Ghyslain Raza was filmed using a broom as a lightsaber. He was unfortunately bullied around the globe because of this video — I can admit I laughed at his video when it made the rounds in High School — and I’ve always wondered what happened to him; how his mental health handled the situation the internet put him through during those teenage years. Those look to be precisely the questions this documentary will answer, so count be more than interested in watching this one.  

The Power of Activism

The Power of Activism focuses on six different but highly spirited female activists who work to save sharks, indigenous practices, our planet and more. The documentary is globe-trotting from Byron Bay in Australia to Pakistan and looks to feature six interesting women with stories and ideas worth listening too. Activism only seems to be becoming increasingly important in 2022, in a world where things seem to be moving backwards rather than forward around the globe. 

The Tunnel: The Other Side of Darkness

Outside of AustraliaI’m not sure how infamous The Tunnel is, but the story behind the 2011 film was well documented in film magazines and circles when in production in Australia. The crowd-funding efforts, mixed with the release in cinema and for free via Torrent sites, led to many questions. Plus, the movie was actually pretty good. The filmmakers certainly didn’t follow the guidelines for making a traditional movie in Australia. The Tunnel: The Other Side of Darkness is a feature-length documentary about the making of The Tunnel and the legacy it’s left behind, and a story I’m super-intrigued to watch. 

The Quest For Sleep

I’m not someone who loves having to spend so much time sleeping, but at least I don’t have any issues with my body getting sleep when it needs it. The people in The Quest For Sleep struggle with insomnia to different degrees and have tried many treatments to counteract their issues. So why can’t they get to sleep? That’s the critical question in the feature documentary The Quest For Sleep, which Octavia Spencer narrates.

Check out the entire catalogue of films streaming online here, and let me know what ones you plan to check out in the comment section below. 

[The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival sponsored this article.]