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by Matthew Eeles
AFL is the greatest game on Earth. And whether you love it or loath it, you’re about to learn a lot more about it.
As well as being an incredibly successful, inspiring, and elite sporting competition which attracts millions of viewers every year, the AFL also has a very ugly side to it – barefaced, abhorrent racism.
Recently, both the Sydney Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival announced they will each screen documentaries about one of the game’s most successful players, Adam Goodes, and the events surrounding the Brownlow medalist, and 2014 Australian of the Year, after he called out a 13-year-old Magpies supporter who called him an ape.
On Friday, June 7 the Sydney Film Festival will screen The Final Quarter, an independent documentary by director Ian Darling (Paul Kelly: Stories of Me).
The Final Quarter is made up entirely of archival footage following the final years of Goodes’ career when cheers turned to boos after the champion footballer publicly called out racism. Goodes wasn’t involved in the making of The Final Quarter which tracks Australia’s heated response.
Almost two months later The Australian Dream will open the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Directed by renowned sporting documentary filmmaker Daniel Gordon, The Australian Dream is a much more more polished, talking heads-style documentary from the producers of That Sugar Film – It’s also written by acclaimed Australian journalist, Stan Grant. The Australian Dream covers Goodes’ early days from his pre-draft through to his post-AFL career as an outspoken activist for Indigenous rights; more broadly, it’s a story about race, identity and belonging.
The fact that two documentaries have been made about such an important topic is an added benefit to the AFL’s staunch stance against racism and its efforts to stamp it out across the game. They’re also a timely reminder that this country needs to grow up and stand up to racism, especially in this wide open digital age which seems to be putting progressive efforts like Goodes’ back a few years.
The Final Quarter will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on Friday, 7 June. Details here.
The Australian Dream will open the Melbourne International Film Festival on Thursday, 1 August. Details here.