BBC announces Storyville slate for Winter 2024, including escapes from North Korea, state surveillance and Nazi hunters

Two boys stand either side of their dad in an old, slightly blue-tinted family photo, all of them stood on a lawn

Revenge: Our Dad the Nazi Killer is written and directed by Danny Ben-Moshe, and concerns Nazi hunter groups established by Jewish vigilantes in post-war Australia. The film follows three brothers as they try and see if their dad and uncle, both of whom survived the Holocaust, were involved.

Cathartic documentary breaks silence

Xavier Alford

In Locked In: Breaking the Silence, which is made by Bristol indie Marble Films and aired at the end of November, Alford talks to doctors and fellow sufferers but, crucially, opens up to his family about a progressively worsening condition that causes muscle weakness and atrophy.

Following a diagnosis a decade ago, he felt a “responsibility”, as a documentary-maker, to make a film, but “felt way, way too raw – I wasn’t ready”. 

Alford was talking to Lynn Barlow at an RTS West of England event that offered a first look at the feature-length documentary. 

Dorothy Byrne: Wickedness that’s been going on for decades is still wickedness, and we should expose it

Dorothy Byrne (Credit: Channel 4)

At her very first World in Action meeting as a young researcher, Dorothy Byrne experienced a feeling she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Until she realised that it was “the feeling I got if I accidentally wandered into the gents’ toilets – I shouldn’t be here!”

Being a rare woman in a man’s world in the early 1980s didn’t deter her, however, and Byrne has now worked in investigative broadcast journalism for nigh on four decades.

Mandy Chang on BBC Storyville's open approach to freelancers

Mandy Chang (Credit: RTS/Alessandro Piccato and Andrea Bortolaso)
It was the first event the relaunched RTS East Centre has held in Cambridge and was aimed at the many film-makers, both professional and student, based in the city.
Chang, who left the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to join the BBC last year, explained what made a good Storyville feature-length documentary, showing clips from Last Men in Aleppo, My Mother’s Lost Children and Weiner – Sexts, Scandals and Politics.

BBC unveils slate of new documentaries

Clare Sillery, head of documentary commissioning at the BBC, has unveiled a wide-reaching range of shows from acclaimed producers, directors and filmmakers.

Celebrating a “fantastic year” for BBC documentaries, which saw BBC Two’s Exodus: Our Journey to Europe win the RTS Programme Award for Documentary Series, Sillery promised that the new slate of programmes would continue to “demonstrate the ongoing ambition of documentaries at the BBC to speak to the now.”

Reframing the documentary: how Amazon and Netflix are changing factual television

All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals (Credit: Amazon Prime)

In February of this year, Netflix won its first Oscar and its first Bafta. Surprisingly, the awards were not for any of its high-profile drama series, but for two documentaries. The Academy Award went to The White Helmets, a film about a group of Syria Civil Defence volunteer rescue workers. The Bafta winner was 13th, Ava DuVernay’s film about race in the US criminal justice system.

BBC orders slate of new documentaries

London ambulance (credit: Flickr/eastleighbusman via Creative Commons)

Speaking about the films, to be shows on BBC One, Two, Three and Four, Patrick Holland, BBC Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, said: “We are delighted to announce such a diverse and distinctive range of films from such a terrific group of programme-makers. The variety of stories and filmmaking approaches shows the ambition we have at BBC Documentaries. What unites these projects is the desire to find the very best ways to tell the most important and engaging stories."

Dedication is key to a good documentary, says Sean McAllister

A Syrian Love Story

When documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister started his latest project, A Syrian Love Story, he had little idea of the journey he would end up on.

What began as a film following a family as they waited for their mother to be released from prison evolved to demonstrate how one family could be affected by the turmoil in Syria.

The story began in 2010, when McAllister met Amer, a Palestinian living in Syria, who was looking after his three sons alone while his wife, Raghda, was incarcerated for writing a book criticising the Assad regime.