The Australian Dream is a vitally important documentary that calls out intolerance for what it is. I’m ashamed to say – and notwithstanding that many, most even, may deny it – I believe Australia is a racist country. Are we more racist than other nations? Perhaps not, but that’s not the point. Any racism is intolerable.
Adam Goodes is former championship AFL player, a two-time Brownlow medallist, Premiership winner and Australian of the Year. But he copped the brunt of abuse for refusing to stay silent. Some say he was targeted because he “staged” for free kicks, did an aboriginal war dance and then was outspoken about the plight of Indigenous Australians while Australian of the Year. Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Of course, Goodes was far from the first person to be on the receiving end of racism. Indeed, 20 years earlier, Nicky Winmar made his own statement on the field when he lifted his jumper and pointed to the colour of his skin. Gilbert McAdam and many, many others have felt the venom of vile comments from the crowd.
This well-constructed documentary, written so expressively by Stan Grant and directed by British documentary filmmaker Daniel Gordon, reveals the consequences of the taunts. Using file vision of historic touchstones in the open-ended conversation about racism, booing and Adam Goodes, it paints an ugly picture … and is at times difficult to watch.
We learn about Goodes’ past and his journey of discovery. Contemporary interviews with a number of people, including Goodes himself, coach Paul Roos, and Nova Peris are damning of the way Australians acted and behaved. Among many statements that resonate, the well-formed and expressed thoughts of Grant are as powerful as any. Contrary views are expressed by Andrew Bolt and Sam Newman, among others. With the latter quick to jump to harsh judgment, let’s just say that against the weight of numbers they don’t look good.
Goodes’ career ended prematurely because of what he was forced to endure. Studying and understanding history remains critical in turning the tide.
Director: Daniel Gordon
Release Date: 22 August 2019
Rating: MA 15+
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.