A fascinating season taking a deeper look at the big lives behind some of our biggest names. On SBS and On Demand.
SBS Guide

23 Jul 2021 - 3:35 PM  UPDATED 27 Jul 2021 - 10:06 AM

Saturday 24 July


(7.30pm on SBS, continues weekly)

Award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick direct the definitive story of Ernest Hemingway, the iconic literary figure considered one of the greatest American writers and among the first to live and work at the treacherous nexus of art and celebrity. 

The three-part documentary paints an intimate picture of Hemingway the writer — who captured on paper the complexities of the human condition in spare and profound prose, and whose work remains deeply influential around the world — while also penetrating the myth of Hemingway the man’s man to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure. The film also explores Hemingway’s limitations and biases as an artist and a man of his time. The series (written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein, both longtime collaborators of Burns and Novick) interweaves a close study of the biographical events of the author’s life with excerpts from his fiction, non-fiction and short stories, informed by interviews with celebrated writers, scholars and Hemingway’s son, Patrick. 

All episodes will be available to stream as a box set at SBS On Demand from 24 July.   


Monday 26 July 

Jimmy Carter: The Rock and Roll President


If it hadn’t been for a bottle of scotch and a late-night visit from musician Gregg Allman, Jimmy Carter might never have been elected the 39th President of the United States. Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll Presidentcharts the mostly forgotten story of how Carter, a lover of all types of music, forged a tight bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others. Low on campaign funds and lacking in name recognition, Carter relied on support from these artists to give him a crucial boost in the Democratic primaries. Once Carter was elected, the musicians became frequent guests in the White House. The surprisingly significant role that music played throughout Carter’s life and in his work becomes a thread in this engaging portrait of one of the most enigmatic Presidents in American history. Selected as the Opening Night Film of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President is filled with illuminating new interviews with Bob Dylan, Bono, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Greg Allman, Garth Brooks, and others, as well as with former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter. The documentary is an incisive and often-rollicking look at an era that saw youth culture and politics join forces, and at a man of conscience whose love of music was crucial to who he was as a father, a citizen, a man of the South, and a leader during his presidency and beyond. 



I Am Johnny Cash


I Am Johnny Cashis a celebration of the larger-than-life Johnny Cash from the unique perspective of the Man in Black’s greatest songs, the “essentials”. Each song brings to life a chapter in the story of America from the 1950s to modern day, as we tour the life of music and artist expression of one of music’s most notorious rebels. Combining cinematically filmed original interviews with Johnny Cash’s family, friends, and a broad array of international superstars from the music and entertainment industries, along with a soundtrack of Cash’s most famous songs, archival concert footage, classic photographs, family snapshots and personal artefacts from the Cash family, the film is an epic tribute to this gifted artist, fighter of causes, and legendary entertainer. Featuring original interviews with John Carter Cash, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, Clive Davis, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, Rick Rubin, Willie Nelson, and many others.


Wednesday 28 July 

Charles & Diana: 1983


In 1983 the most famous couple in the world arrived in Australia for a historic royal tour. Admirers full of hope for the Prince and Princess. A closer look back on this royal tour reveals a much more foreboding and gruelling reality.





From the team behind acclaimed documentary Senna, comes this insightful and moving portrait of one of Britain’s great music icons. Amy Winehouse was a pop star with soul; a rare musical talent whose appeal crossed cultural and demographic boundaries. But while her music made her a star, her chaotic personal life stole headlines. With rare interviews and never-before-seen archival footage, Amy takes us behind the sensationalised headlines to reveal a prodigiously talented young woman whose life ended far too soon. With this film, the world will fall in love with the real Amy Winehouse and her music all over again. 


Thursday 29 July 

Grace Kelly: The Missing Millions


The Grace Kelly story, of the beautiful actress who rose to stardom and became a fifties fashion icon, who then shocked the world when she left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco, is well known. But less well-known is the story of her missing millions. When Grace tragically died, she appeared to have assets of just $10,000 and a ramshackle cottage in Ireland. 

Financial guru Gemma Godfrey has looked after the fortunes of the super-wealthy and investigated hidden assets for some of the world’s biggest companies. In this film, she’s on the hunt for Grace Kelly’s missing millions. The story reveals Grace’s privileged financial upbringing & the difficult relationship with her father; her struggle for self-sufficiency in New York where modelling funded her true love: acting. We reveal her head for business when negotiating her own contracts with studio bosses but also expose the story of sexual double standards, the gender pay gap & the effect on Grace’s fortunes. As a Princess she had to pay her own dowry then found herself trapped in a gilded cage - worth millions to Monaco yet earning little for herself. And then after her death, we discover how the Grace Kelly name and image continues to generate millions…and who benefits.



Friday 30 July

I Am Jackie O

Entering the American consciousness as the glamorous first lady who brought youth, culture and sophistication to the White House, Jacquelin Bouvier Kennedy Onassis became a media obsession after her husband’s assassination – and embodiment of America’s grief.  Escaping to the privacy of the Onassis compound in Greece, she eventually returned to New York, reinventing herself as a book editor while establishing control over her own life, finally free from the shadow of powerful men. Exploring the character of a woman living through tragedy in the public eye and remaking her life, I Am Jackie O follows a legacy that transcends her role as president’s wife and national widow and cements her as one of the most important cultural icons in American history.

7.30pm on SBS or stream now at SBS On Demand




Using a trove of never-before-seen personal footage and a new interview shot by director Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) at her home in Africa, this acclaimed film tells the extraordinary story of renowned British primatologist Jane Goodall. It documents her early explorations and research in Tanzania, focusing on her groundbreaking fieldwork, her relationship with her cameraman and husband Hugo van Lawick, and the chimpanzees that were the subject of her study. A long time animal lover, Jane’s dream of living amongst wild animals in Africa became a reality in 1957, when she met Dr. Louis Leakey while visiting a friend in Kenya. Dr. Leakey, a leading anthropologist, believed that the study of apes could offer insights into the origins and behaviour of our Paleolithic ancestors and was looking for someone to help with his research. Despite having no formal training, Leakey knew he had found the perfect candidate in Jane.

At the age of 26, Jane was in Gombe, in the wilds of Tanzania, living among chimpanzees, and it is here she made the monumental discovery that would shake the scientific world to its core: the fact that chimpanzees use and modify tools to aid them in catching insects to eat. This film captures everything from her close relationships with the chimpanzees, to the life she made in Africa - initially with Hugo van Lawick, the National Geographic filmmaker sent to make a movie about her work and who became her husband - and her continued advocacy today for chimpanzees in the wider world. Features a score by world-renowned, Academy Award-nominated composer Philip Glass. 


Sunday 1 August

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week


After their now-legendary North American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, The Beatles transfixed the U.S. and the tremors were felt worldwide, transforming music and pop culture forever with their records and television appearances. The Beatles’ extraordinary musicianship and charisma also made them one of the greatest live bands of all time. In The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful MindApollo 13) explores the history of The Beatles through the lens of the group’s concert performances, from their early days playing small clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg to their unprecedented world tours in packed stadiums around the globe from New York to Melbourne to Tokyo. The first feature-length documentary authorized by The Beatles since the band’s breakup in 1970, Eight Days a Weekfeatures rare and never-before-seen archival footage of shows and interviews, plus new interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and numerous prominent observers. The film captures the exhilaration of The Beatles’ phenomenal rise to fame as well as the toll it eventually took on the band members, prompting them to stop touring altogether in August 1966 and devote their prodigious musical energy to the series of ground-breaking studio recordings for which they are best known today.


Lennon's Last Weekend


In December 1980, John Lennon and Yoko Ono had not spoken to the media for more than five years. With a new album to promote Lennon was prepared to speak in New York to Radio One D.J. Andy Peebles of the BBC.  John surprised everyone by candidly discussing a variety of subjects he’d never spoken of before including The Beatles break-up, his relationship with Paul McCartney, his battles with addiction, political issues in the US and UK, his family and his homesickness for Liverpool.  He also talked about working with Phil Spector and David Bowie and how he produced many of his solo albums, which included great songs such as Imagine and Give Peace A Chance.

Lennon’s Last Weekend illuminates what was to be his final interview with an abundance of archival footage, photographs and conversations with people who knew him. Clearly invigorated and looking forward to making more music, Lennon’s heartfelt honesty and forthright revelations make this film all the more potent as he was brutally shot and murdered 48 hours later.  


Sunday 2 August

Becoming Bond


The bizarre true story of George Lazenby, an Australian car mechanic, who managed to land the role of James Bond despite never acting a day in his life.




This is the definitive film about one of the true and most loved international icons of the 20th Century: Bob Marley. His music and message of love and redemption are known throughout the world and his story has finally been brought to life in this definitive work by the acclaimed talent of Kevin Macdonald. Bob Marley’s universal appeal, impact on music history and his role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. His music and message transcend culture, language and creed and resonate around the world today as powerfully as when he was alive. Only a handful of musicians have ever achieved such an impact and Bob Marley, though his life was far too short, stands among them. As one of the most accomplished documentary and feature filmmakers of a new generation, Kevin Macdonald delivers the definitive work on Bob Marley, his life and a truly global influence. Filming took place as far afield as Ghana, Japan and the UK, in addition to Bob’s beloved Jamaica and the States, and marks the first time ever that his family has authorized the use of their own private archives.


Wednesday 4 August

Jackie Chan: Building An Icon


Jackie Chan is a true icon of Asian and Chinese culture. Over a 45-year-long career, he has carved a niche for himself as an actor, stuntman, director, and screenwriter, but also singer and formidable businessman. After starring in almost 200 films, Chan has reconciled fans of genre film and Hollywood blockbusters, whilst bridging the gap between Asian and Western cinema. Through film excerpts, archive footage and images, and an offbeat approach inspired by the visual codes of the golden age of kung fu films, this documentary will take a look back at the creation of a popular hero who has come to be an icon for China, and the entire Asian continent.


Billy Graham


Billy Graham explores the life and career of one of the best-known and most influential religious leaders of the 20th century. From modest beginnings on a North Carolina farm, Graham rose to prominence with a fiery preaching style, movie-star good looks and effortless charm. His early fundamentalist sermons harnessed the apocalyptic anxieties of a post-atomic world, exhorting audiences to adopt the only possible solution: devoting one’s life to Christ. Graham became an international celebrity who built a media empire, preached to millions worldwide, and had the ear of tycoons, royalty and presidents. At age 99, he died a national icon, estimated to have preached in person to 210 million people.

Billy Graham examines the evangelist’s extraordinary influence on American politics and culture, interweaving the voices of historians, scholars, witnesses, family, and Graham himself, to create a kaleidoscopic portrait of a singular figure in the American experience. 


Thursday 5 August

Citizen Jane Fonda


Very few Icons have at once embodied the Myths of their own country while revealing its contradictions: heiress of the Hollywood star system and muse of the French auteur Cinema, Academy Award winning actress and committed producer, feminist and aerobic queen, activist and fearless businesswoman… 

In a lifetime, Jane Fonda may have reconciled all the facets of America without renouncing her own integrity. Through her portrait, the film tells a social and political story while drawing the picture of a typically American phenomenon.



Friday 6 August 

The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show


While the country was embroiled in a divisive election with racial tensions flaring, Civil Rights activist and trailblazing performer Harry Belafonte guest hosted The Tonight Show for one week in 1968. By then, Johnny Carson had turned this pioneering late night show into one of the most powerful platforms of communication. In an unprecedented move, Belafonte took a predominantly white institution, The Tonight Show, and transformed it into a multicultural and political experience.

Award-winning director Yoruba Richen examines the importance of this lost broadcast history through vibrant interviews with Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, Questlove, and guests who appeared that week including Petula Clark, Dionne Warwick, and Freda Payne. The Sit In features rare archival footage, including interviews with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, which are among the last television appearances before both were assassinated.



The Final Quarter


Adam Goodes was a champion AFL footballer and Indigenous leader. In the final three years of his playing career he became a lightning rod for a heated public debate and widespread media commentary that divided the nation.

He publicly called out racism, was named Australian of the Year, was accused of staging for free kicks, and performed an on-field war dance celebration. The cheers became boos as football crowds turned on him.

Using only archival footage aired at the time, the film holds a mirror to Australia and is an opportunity to reconsider what happened on and off the football field.


All titles will be available to steam at SBS On Demand after broadcast on SBS, as part of a wider Price Of Fame collection.  

Hemingway and the myth of the self-destructive genius
Revered documentarian Ken Burns (‘The Civil War’, ‘The Vietnam War’) again partners with Lynn Novick to bring us the story of one of the titans of 20th century American literature.
SBS asks: 'What Does Australia Really Think About' ….Disability? Old People? Obesity?
This new documentary series hosted by Kurt Fearnley, Noni Hazlehurst and Casey Donovan premieres 18 August, 8.30pm on SBS.
It’s all about big business in these series streaming on SBS On Demand
No, we’re not talking about the 1988 classic comedy starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. These series at SBS On Demand are about money, power and... that’s right, big business.
It took a TV critic to create one of the weirdest shows on TV
‘Briarpatch’ creator Andy Greenwald on making the move from TV critic to TV creator and why he stuffed his first-ever show with escaped zoo animals.
It's raining Emmy nominations for 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Everyone's favourite dystopian drama is in with a big chance at the 73rd Emmy Awards.