The Australian Dream (15)

The Australian Dream (15)

Director: Daniel Gordon

Cast: Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, Michael O’Loughlin, Brett Goodes, Tracey Holmes, Nathan Buckley, Eddie McGuire, Gilbert McAdam, Paul Roos, John Longmire, Nova Peris, Nicky Winmar, Andrew Bolt, Linda Burney, Natalie Goodes


SYNOPSIS: The Australian Dream is a documentary that uses the remarkable and inspirational story of Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes as the prism through which to tell a deeper and more powerful story about race, identity and belonging.


Exposing one of the most shocking series of events in sporting history in The Australian Dream, BAFTA award-winning director Daniel Gordon and Walkley award-winning writer Stan Grant bring us this intelligent, profound, emotional and thoughtful story of one of the most decorated and celebrated players in AFL history – a man who remains an Australian cultural hero.

Adam Goodes is the very epitome of resilience and survival, a man who continues to fight for equality and reconciliation, in the face of career-long racism he has experienced, due to his Aboriginal heritage. The film seems almost prescient now in global terms as it shows without a doubt that we cannot move forward without acknowledging the pain of our history and the ongoing pain it causes.

Goodes, now retired, was a superstar of Australian Rules Football. The Australian Dream shows him celebrating championships for his club, Sydney Swans, winning the sport’s Brownlow medal for player of the season twice, and hear him reflecting on a bulldog playing style that once saw him struggle through half a match with a ruptured cruciate ligament – and still come out on top. Then, at an Indigenous Round game in Melbourne in 2013, he was called ‘an ape’ by a 13-year-old girl in the stands. At Goodes’s insistence, the girl was removed from the game. Immediately, he was plunged into an extraordinary controversy that split the nation as it played out in media headlines and social media trolling and is recapped here in a montage of TV reports, awkward apologies and horrific Facebook posts.

The film shows he wasn’t the first indigenous player to be abused on the pitch, merely the latest. Indigenous AFL player Nicky Winmar, in 1993, responded to racist abuse on the pitch by pulling up his shirt and pointing at his brown skin. He was mocked on TV by a pundit in blackface. Goodes’ taking a stand resulted in being compared with King Kong by talk radio DJ (and powerful AFL executive) Eddie McGuire.

The Australian Dream condemns the media, society, even the sport itself as perpetuators of the racism that left Winmar scarred, and drove Goodes out of the game. The problem is institutional and also historic. The film’s writer and interviewee Stan Grant, an Australian broadcast journalist of indigenous heritage, and British director Daniel Gordon, draw a pointed reference to Britain’s colonial declaration that Australia was Terra Nullius – ‘nobody’s land’.  This was a move that gave indigenous people at best, grudging acceptance from white Australia and at worst, oblivion.

One man’s story embodies the prejudices of a nation. Using the stunning athleticism of Goodes at the peak of his powers as well as the game itself as the film’s backdrop, The Australian Dream prompts questions about Australia’s relationship with racism and its ability to confront its own past.

The ‘Australian Dream’ is something people reach for and many people obtain, but there’s an emptiness at the heart of it because Australia has not resolved the questions of its history. If the Australian Dream is rooted in racism, what can be done to redefine it for the next generation?

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV

Images courtesy of: Dogwoof