Vice and Screen Australia crown Burlesque Blokes as Pitch Australiana winner

Youth media company Vice and Screen Australia have today announced Burlesque Blokes as the winner of annual pitching competition Pitch Australiana.

The creators of the documentary, which follows a group of male erotic entertainers on tour, will receive $50,000 in production funding for a short form documentary commission, to be released through Vice’s global digital network and broadcast on local TV channel SBS VICELAND.

“We are really excited to work with Vice and Screen Australia and are grateful to be given the opportunity to add a new chapter to the Australiana series,” director Isaac Elliott and producer Lucy Knox said in a joint statement.

Burlesque Blokes opens the curtains on an often misunderstood industry, delving into the lives of a group of male burlesque performers as they take their stage show from Melbourne to regional Australia. We’re excited to explore this world and the gender politics tied to it, while telling an entertaining story full of heart, hard work and an abundance of washboard abs.”

The ‘real’ burlesque blokes: MenXclusive Australia. Photo by James Le Tegola

The documentary explores the performers’ gruelling schedules and how they navigate consent with female participants, along with the toll the work has on their relationships, self-image and finances (in one of the only industries where, in their experience, male performers are paid less than their female counterparts).

Burlesque Blokes was one of four finalist projects that pitched at the Australian International Documentary Conference held in Melbourne earlier this month. The other three finalists included Cleaning Trauma, an exploration into the inner workings of Melbourne’s most successful trauma cleaning business; General Hercules, in which a gold prospector searches in isolation for his fortune in the desert outside of Kalgoorlie; and Boxed In, focusing on an ex-cage fighter who combats the local drug epidemic by teaching kids Muay Thai Boxing on the banks of the Murray River.

Pitch Australiana is an annual competition that invites early career Australian filmmakers to collaborate with Vice in telling a story that has been overlooked by mainstream media.

“Pitching a project live in front of a panel of representatives … is no easy feat,” said head of documentary at Screen Australia Bernadine Lim.

“Isaac Elliott and Lucy Knox really seized this opportunity and presented an insightful documentary that opens a door into a divisive profession, revealing the unique challenges faced by those working within it.”

Katy Roberts, head of video at Vice Australia, added that picking a winner among an “incredibly strong set of finalists” was difficult.

“We’re particularly excited about Isaac and Lucy’s winning documentary pitch, and know it will throw a unique and dynamic lens onto the ongoing Australiana series.”


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