Ian Darling

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Ian David Darling AO is an award winning documentary film director and producer based in Sydney, Australia.[1]

He is Executive Chair and Founder of Shark Island Institute and Executive Director of its production arm, Shark Island Productions – a documentary company which creates extensive outreach, education and community engagement campaigns with their films. He is also Chair of GoodPitch2 Australia [2] and The Caledonia Foundation.

His documentary credits as a producer, director and executive producer include The Final Quarter and Life After The Oasis, (both coming in June 2019), Suzy & The Simple Man, The Genesis, Paul Kelly - Stories of Me, The Oasis, Polly and Me, The Soldier, In The Company of Actors, Alone Across Australia, Woodstock for Capitalists, The Bleeding Edge, Inventing Tomorrow, Unrest, 2040, The Fourth Estate, Fly, How to Change the World, (opening night film Sundance Film Festival 2015), and Toxic Labour.

Ian Darling received the Byron Kennedy Award for innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence at the 2018 AACTA Awards.[3] In May 2017 he was named Australia's Leading Philanthropist by Philanthropy Australia.[4][5][6][7]

In 2018 Shark Island Institute introduced The Labs - supporting five Australian documentary films in development.


Darling's first documentary in 2001 Woodstock for Capitalists [8] was a film featuring investors and philanthropists Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger and won the CINE Golden Eagle Award. His next film in 2004 Alone Across Australia about extreme adventurer Jon Muir was voted one of the 20 best adventure films of all time by Men's Journal Magazine and won over 32 international awards.[9] In The Company of Actors was a 2007 film that followed the journey of the Sydney Theatre Company cast of Hedda Gabler from rehearsal room in Sydney through to opening night in New York. The cast featured Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Robyn Nevin. The Oasis was a multi-award winning documentary that was filmed over two years about Australia's homeless youth. The film had a strong social and education outreach campaign which led to the most significant national inquiry into youth homelessness in 20 years.[10] The Oasis was named one of 'Australia's Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time.'[11] The Oasis became the inspiration to Darling filming two docu-dramas Polly and Me (a harrowing tale of child abuse and neglect, seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old girl), and Wall Boy (a runaway forced into teenage prostitution and the courageous outreach worker who attempts to rescue him). The Soldier was a documentary on Ken Depena, a devotee of the Salvation Army since 1949[12] who featured in The Oasis, the film garnered a 'Special Mention' at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival.[13] Paul Kelly - Stories of Me based on prominent Australian singer songwriter Paul Kelly opened at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2012 and won the Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Documentary Award. Stories From the Inside looked into a group of young first time offenders in Port Philip Prison. Suzy & The Simple Man an environmental love story featuring Suzy and Jon Muir, discusses sustainability and survival in a remote country community. The film premiered in 2016 at the Sydney Film Festival and had sold out screenings at Melbourne International Film Festival. The Final Quarter (2019) re-examines the final three years of Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes’ playing career. Made entirely from archival footage, photos and interviews sourced from television, radio and newspapers, the film reviews the national conversation that took place over this period.

Darling is the founder and patron of the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), a not for profit organisation which encourages collaboration between philanthropic grant makers, charities and documentary filmmakers and winner of the Stanley Hawes Award in 2013.[14][15] He was Chair of the Documentary Australia Foundation from 2006 to 2011. Darling is Chair of Good Pitch2 Australia, a not-for-profit event hosted in Australia by Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia.[16] The three Good Pitch events raised more than $14 million in philanthropic grants for the funding of 19 social impact documentaries and their impact campaigns. Darling is Chair of The Caledonia Foundation (since 2001), a private foundation focusing on the education, training and welfare of disadvantaged young Australians. He was the founder and Managing Director of the Caledonia Investments group from 1992 to 2003. He is an active supporter of the Arts, he is Patron of the Kangaroo Valley Upper River Hall ArtsLab, a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Social Impact, a member of Impact Partners New York,[17] Ambassador of Antenna Documentary Film Festival[18] and Patron of Human Rights Arts Film Festival (HRAFF), he is also a Foundation Donor for the Marriage Equality Campaign. Darling was Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and STC Foundation from 2006-2010. He appointed Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton as Co-Artistic Directors in 2008[19] and after leaving STC as Chairman, his position was replaced by David Gonski.[20] He has been a member of the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army[21] and Chair of The Oasis Youth Support Network, and a Director of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

Darling was recipient of the 2007 Creative Partnerships Australia (formerly Australia Business Arts Foundation) Business Leadership Award,[22] and recipient of Australia's Leading Philanthropist Award from Philanthropy Australia in 2017.[23][24] In 2018 Ian Darling was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for "distinguished service to documentary film production, to the performing arts, education and community engagement, and to social welfare organisations through philanthropic endeavours"[25]. Also in 2018, Darling was the recipient of the Byron Kennedy Award, presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA).

Darling holds an MBA from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland, a BA from the Australian National University and has studied at the New York Film Academy.[26]



Good Pitch Australia[edit]

Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia Foundation host Good Pitch2 Australia, and brought the first of these events to Sydney in October 2014. The 2015 event was held in September and the last in a trilogy of events was held at the Sydney Opera House in November 2016. The community partners for the event are Philanthropy Australia and Pro Bono Australia. Since 2014, more than $14 million has been raised in philanthropic grants for the funding of 19 social impact documentaries and their impact campaigns, forging priceless pro bono support and 300+ powerful strategic partnerships between community groups, the corporate sector, NGOs and policy makers. Supported documentaries include: That Sugar Film, Frackman, Gayby Baby, Zach's Ceremony, The Hunting Ground, Whiteley (about Australian artist Brett Whiteley). Good Pitch is a BRITDOC project in partnership with Ford Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.


  • 2018 Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for "distinguished service to documentary film production, to the performing arts, education and community engagement, and to social welfare organisations through philanthropic endeavours".[28]
  • 2018 Recipient of the AACTA Byron Kennedy Award.
  • 2017 Recipient of Australia's Leading Philanthropist Award from Philanthropy Australia.[29][30]
  • 2008 one of the AFR Magazine Influential Australians.
  • 2007 Recipient of the Creative Partnerships Australia (Formerly AbaF) Business Arts Leadership Award.[31]

His photographs have been finalists in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the National Photographic Portrait Prize, the Sydney Life Photography Prize and his portrait of Jon Muir is represented in the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.[32]


  1. ^ "Shark Island".
  2. ^ "Good Pitch coming to Australia in 2014". Inside Film Magazine.
  3. ^ https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/sweet-country-dominates-aacta-awards-with-a-surprise-best-actor-win-20181204-p50k25.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "philanthropy spotlight".
  5. ^ "Philanthropy Award Recipients recipient". PA. 5 April 2017.
  6. ^ "philanthropy leader of the year Ian Darling on collaboration creativity and courage". IF Magazine. 12 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Good Pitch Australia's Ian Darling wins top gong".
  8. ^ Krinsky,Tamara. "Documentary Member news". Documentary Magazine.
  9. ^ "ShAFF Presents Coast To Coast and Alone Across Australia". Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. Archived from the original on 12 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Media Release NYC Report" (PDF). Salvos.org.au. 8 April 2008.
  11. ^ "Top 50 Philanthropic gifts of all time". ProBonoAustralia. ProBonoAustralia. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Media Release NYC report" (PDF). Screen Australia.
  13. ^ "Antenna Documentary Festival". Moviemag.org.
  14. ^ "Stanley Hawes Award". AIDC. Archived from the original on 21 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Feature interview: Ian Darling" (PDF). Philanthropy Australia.
  16. ^ "goodpitch.org".
  17. ^ "Antenna Documentary Film Festival".
  18. ^ "Antenna Documentary Film Festival Staff".
  19. ^ Bennie, Angela (11 November 2006), Blanchett: Theatre job 'no dalliance', Sydney Morning Herald
  20. ^ David Gonski to replace Darling as Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company, Australian Stage, 16 December 2009
  21. ^ "The Centre for Social Impact issue 69".
  22. ^ "Past Award Winners".
  23. ^ "philanthropy spotlight".
  24. ^ http://www.philanthropy.org.au/awards/award-recipients/
  25. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/national/australia-day-honours-2018-the-full-list-20180125-h0o20j.html
  26. ^ "Tribute to Ian Darling".
  27. ^ "Adam Goodes documentary maker urges Australians to judge impact of racism on AFL star". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Australia Day Honours 2018: The full list". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  29. ^ "philanthropy spotlight".
  30. ^ http://www.philanthropy.org.au/awards/award-recipients/
  31. ^ "AbaF Councillors".
  32. ^ "National Photographic Portrait Prize". The Daily Telegraph.

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