A tale of two Adam Goodes films: docos on AFL legend put racism in big picture

The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream screen at the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals respectively

If you were somehow unaware of Adam Goodes’ stature in Australian rules football, the sudden proliferation of documentaries about him ought to cure that.

On Thursday the Melbourne international film festival announced that The Australian Dream, a film about the Indigenous footballer’s life and experience, written by journalist Stan Grant, will have its world premiere as the festival’s opening night in August.

The documentary will traverse Goodes’ hugely successful career, which ended sourly in 2015 for the 2014 Australian of the Year, who became the subject of booing from the stands and ill-informed commentary in certain parts of the media. Both had racial undertones.

“This is the story of Adam Goodes and a moment when Australia faced the worst in itself,” Grant said in a statement.

Goodes, who was involved in the making of The Australian Dream, said the film gave him and other Indigenous Australians “the opportunity to tell our stories in our own words”. “Our hope is that The Australian Dream will help to reconcile the history of our country and show there is a path forward for future generations,” said Goodes.

The Australian Dream will follow hot on the heels of the Sydney film festival’s screening in June of The Final Quarter, a documentary by Ian Darling, also about Goodes’ career and the moment the Swans player became the flashpoint for a national conversation about racism.

The Final Quarter tells the story of the last three years of Goodes’ career, before his retirement in 2015.

Darling’s film, however, is comprised entirely of archival footage – a technique sometimes used in documentaries about people who have lived a very public life, such as director Asif Kapadia’s 2011 film Senna, about Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna.

Goodes has given The Final Quarter his support even though he didn’t play a part in its making. “As confronting as I have found the film, I look forward to the conversation it will help generate,” Goodes said in a statement last week.

Goodes, now 39, chose to end his 372-game career after persistent vilification from the stands stemming from an incident in 2013 when he called out a girl for calling him an “ape” during a Swans game.

The booing intensified after Goodes performed an Aboriginal war dance in celebration of kicking a goal against Carlton in 2015 and, amid a divisive national debate about racism, he took leave from the game due to stress.

He eventually called time on his career without a traditional farewell lap in front of his fans.

The Final Quarter is premiering at the Sydney film festival on 7 June and is set to be broadcast on Australian TV later this year. The Australian Dream premieres at Melbourne international film festival on 1 August and will go on to national release on 22 August.

Guardian staff

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