The Australian Dream
Director: Daniel Gordon
This brilliant documentary, directed by Daniel Gordon from a script by Stan Grant, uses the story of AFL legend Adam Goodes – an inspiration on and off the field – to tell the wider stories of identity and racism.
Goodes, winner of almost every single award going in the AFL and holder of many records, was born to an English father and Indigenous Australian mother. She was one of the Stolen Generation. While still in his playing career Goodes took a very prominent anti-racist stance and started receiving boos from fans as a result. That alone could seem jarring, disappointing and strange enough. But when Goodes is named Australian of the Year the backlash kicks in even harder. It culminates perhaps in the absurdity of a young teenage girl calling him an ape and being removed from the stadium as a result.
Cue yet another backlash. Sports broadcasters and general public nobodies are quick to call Goodes the bully in this situation. Apparently a country girl should get a free pass. She didn’t know she was doing anything wrong. And besides, we are actually descended from apes so it was no insult. That is actually one of the televised arguments. No, really.
Australia’s Lucky Country status, it’s Australia Day holiday, it’s blue-collar yobbo culture are all called into line.
Goodes remains noble, thoughtful, stoic in the face of so much abuse. His mental toughness of the fields matching his physical abilities in athletic competition.
It’s hard to say too much more about this film without ruining it – I’ve set it up for anyone that wasn’t previously aware of Goodes at all. And it is irrelevant to know about him as a sportsman actually. Although it adds weight to the darkness when you consider that sporting legends are usually heroes without question in Australia. It seems that’s only the case when they are white.
The Australian Dream is a thought-provoking film, beautifully produced. It is calm and clever in the way the story unfolds, suggesting a good old fashioned documentary of observation and objectivity – all the while using the power of the edit to tell the real story and to show both objective truth and the subjective placement of the lens.
I loved this film. And of course I wish I didn’t – you’d wish that films like this didn’t have to be made. But it’s better than the ludicrousness of such injustices, such ugliness and hurt is being called out. The filmmakers here have done a very fine job. I consider this a must-see movie.
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