Surgery Ship

"Out on the ocean, a ship of doctors and nurses is traveling to the poorest of the poor living in West Africa."



It carries life saving medical services for people who have none: children who suffer with terrible leg deformities, women outcast from their communities by birthing fistulas, vast tumors of all shapes and sizes which afflict the unlucky. With no medical help, sufferers must survive the best they can – unless the ship is in port.

The ship docks in a different country every year and people come from all corners of the globe. It is the last hope for so many – and if they miss the boat, there is no other chance.

On arrival, a flood of patients pours into the port, but in this medical lottery not everyone can win. For the lucky ones, doctors will carry out lifesaving operations on unbelievable cases. Many of these ills do not exist outside of West Africa and have never been seen before by these doctors.

Nonetheless, the volunteer medics must make on the spot life and death decisions. Some are too far-gone to treat, others not deemed severe enough – and the worst group are the patients in the middle, where the treatment may bring uncertain outcome, but no treatment means certain death. A confronting, complex journey for the volunteer doctors and nurses, it will be a case of life and death for many of the patients.

By the end it is not just the patients who are transformed. The young nurses and doctors will be challenged to the limits of their training and abilities. NERIDA is a young and idealistic yet inexperienced surgeon who will face a patient who cannot be fully cured. NEIL is mature doctor who has left his steady practise to go to one of the most out of control countries on earth. DAN will form an unexpectedly deep connection with a young child, whom he must leave at the end of the year in Guinea. Told through their eyes we follow the dramatic and confronting events as they unfold on the Surgery Ship..


The Surgery Ship - Single Film


The Crew


Directed by MADELEINE HETHERTON

Produced by REBECCA BARRY & MADELEINE HETHERTON

Edited by ANDREA LANG

Cinematography JUDD OVERTON

Composer JOHN GRAY

Sound Designer MARCO VELASCO

Sound Recordist ERIK MENARD

Line Producer ESTER HARDING

Associate Producer PAUL MILLGATE

Narrated by TONI COLLETTE

Titles and Graphics KINGDOM OF LUDD

Production Accountant DANIELLE KELLY

Legals JANINE PEARCE

Post Production Facility TWODOGS.TV


The Producers

Media Stockade

Media Stockade is an independent production company based in Sydney, Australia, with our eyes and ears open to stories from around the world.

Founders, Rebecca Barry and Madeleine Hetherton, share over a decade of film and TV production experience and collectively have made over 50 hours of broadcast television. They have been colleagues for the last 15 years and now are working together on an exciting slate of projects. They are joined by All Media Producer Ester Harding, whose passion for interactive story telling and engaging audiences across platforms, keeps Media Stockade pushing the boundaries in form, as well as subject.

Our programs are provocative and socially relevant. Often witty, humorous, insightful – our stuff entertains without being stupid. We want to move people – and inspire them to action and debate. But we are not didactic. We respect the intelligence of our audience.

We are uncompromising in the best sense of the word. We strive for excellence. We collaborate, develop and produce projects together. We offer support, advice and strategy to independent filmmakers, to enable them to produce their ideas. We genuinely love enabling stories and most importantly working with people who inspire us.


Madeleine Hetherton – Director & Producer

Madeleine is an experienced director with a number of broadcast television documentary and drama credits. These include the successful documentary series for SBS ‘Making Babies’ (‘fascinating and moving’ The Age), documentary ‘Beats Across Borders’ (ABC and Cirque du Soleil) and several short documentaries for SBS’s ‘Keeping It Together’ series. Her films have screened many festivals including Berlin Film Festival, New York Film Festival (Lincoln Centre), Flickerfest and WOW. She has extensive experience in television documentary and factual programs shooting and producing for major Australian production companies such as Endemol Southern Star, IMG Media, Freehand TV & CordellJigsaw on shows including the top rating factual series ‘Bondi Rescue’ (Ch10/National Geographic), ‘The Nest’ (SBS), ‘Last Chance Surgery’ (Ch7/Discovery), ‘Bali Rescue’ and most recently ‘Outback Truckies’ (Ch7/Discovery).


Rebecca Barry – Producer

Rebecca Barry is an award winning director, writer and producer of documentary and drama films and a graduate from the Australian Film Television and Radio School. Her films have screened at Melbourne International Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, St Kilda Short Film Festival, Flickerfest, ATOM, WOW and many others. Her multiple filmmaking awards include the AFTRS Screen Critics Circle award for Best Director and Best Film. She was also a nominee for the Emerging Talent Award by the Screen Critics Circle 2003 and recently Highly Commended at the 2009 Australian Directors Guild Awards. Her work as director or producer include: Footy Chicks (SBS), Inspiring Teachers (SBS), Home and Away (Channel 7), The Surgeon (Channel 10), You Am I – The Cream and The Crock (DVD release), Beats Across Borders (ABC), The Space In Between, The McDonagh Sisters (SBS), A Modern Marriage (SBS), Overture (ABC). Her recent feature documentary I am a Girl, which she produced and directed has been nominated for four AACTA Awards 2014, including Best Feature Documentary and Best direction in a Documentary.


Ester Harding – All Media Produer

Ester Harding is a filmmaker and writer, with production credits in film, television and publishing.

For Freehand Productions, she worked on the documentary series Bush Slam (ABC) (also editing and publishing the companion book Bush Slam – Poems from the ABC TV Series) and the social media documentary Goa Hippy Tribe (Facebook / SBS). In 2010, Ester graduated from Metro Screen’s Multiplatform Screen Producer Scholarship. In 2011, she was appointed as Freehand’s All Media Producer and is producing the online interactive documentary After Six Four (SBS). For Firelight Productions / 6ixty Foot Films, she was the all-media producer for Storm Surfers 3D, winning Interactive Producer of the Year at the SPAA Awards, 2012. In mid 2012, Ester joined Media Stockade to line-produce The Surgery Ship (SBS) and feature documentary I am a Girl, and to develop a slate for all media delivery.


Mitzi Goldman – Executive Producer

Mitzi Goldman has written, produced, edited and directed documentaries for over 25 years. Her films have been screened around the world in festivals in Germany, South Africa, the UK, France, Spain, the USA, and in Australia and have received nominations and awards, including an ATOM award for Best Social Issues Documentary. Her credits include Snakes And Ladders, Things I Call Mine, Many Homes, Many Names, Hatred, Ports Of Destiny, Parra, Chinese Take Away, Bloodlines and End of the Rainbow (83)/(52). She has worked with ABC, SBS, ARTE (France), ITVS (USA), Ch4 (UK), SABC (South Africa), YLE (Finland) and National Geographic.

Releases for 2011/2012 include Memoirs of a Plague launched internationally in competition at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) and A Common Purpose, Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival. She has founded and runs an education, TV and online project in documentary making for 8 – 12 year olds called Sprout Media By Kids.

Mitzi is CEO of the Documentary Australia Foundation.

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