Townsville Bulletin


A film on the late Heath Ledger leads the top-tier content on Fox Docos, writes Siobhan Duck


HIS documentar­y on late Australian actor Heath Ledger opened to widespread critical acclaim but there was one review that mattered most to co-director Derik Murray: that of the grieving Ledger family. Ledger’s parents, Kim and Sally, along with sister Kate, had placed tremendous trust in Murray’s team, sharing anecdotes and precious home movies for

I Am Heath Ledger.

“[Ledger’s family] were in Australia and we were in Canada, so we had provided a link to the film. Not the actual finished film, but one that was in the advanced stage... with the story all in place,” Murray explains.

“We were very proud of it but were on pins and needles until they watched it. And their response was overwhelmi­ng. It was an emotional experience, but also a positive experience.”

The family later joined him at the documentar­y’s sold-out premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. The group held hands throughout the screening.

Convincing families of any legendary performer to collaborat­e on a project is often challengin­g.

“He passed away far too young [Ledger was just 28 when he died of an accidental overdose in 2008]. And it was something they were still trying to live with,” Murray says. “Not that you’re ever going to get used to it, but it was still very early for them. They were reticent and they’d been approached on many different levels [to share their stories].”

The Ledger family only came on board after watching other chapters from the I Am documentar­y series, which feature intimate portraits of several deceased personalit­ies, including Bruce Lee, Patrick Swayze and Steve Mcqueen.

According to Murray, gone are the days of “old and stodgy” documentar­ies. The huge appetite for the popular genre has prompted more investment in the artform, leading to a far higher quality product.

It’s also the reason Foxtel has launched its Fox Docos channel, with more than 600 hours of true stories, including the I Am series.

Murray reveals the documentar­ies have been so successful that they’re now expanding the series to include living icons, with several “Australian legends” among those who’ll make the grade.

“The incredible number of individual­s who have put their mark on the world and come from Down Under is staggering,” he says. “It’s extraordin­ary. Is there something in the water? Or in the beer, perhaps?”



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