The Australian Dream exposes Australia’s racism

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The Australian Dream
Director: Daniel Gordon
Stars: Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, Michael O’Loughlin, Nicky Winmar, Eddie McGuire and Andrew Bolt
Where: In cinemas from today
Rating: ★★★★

By EMILIO LANERA 

If anyone tells you racism isn’t a problem in Australia, tell them to watch The Australian Dream.

Centred around the career of AFL superstar Adam Goodes, The Australian Dream uses a combination of historic footage and interviews with key Australian figures to enlighten audiences on the struggles Indigenous Australians have and continue to face.

The film was written by journalist Stan Grant who begins the film by saying, “sport has a way of really capturing the essence of what’s happening in society”.

The moment Grant is referring to took place during the 2013 Indigenous Round, when Goodes asked security to escort a 13-year-old girl from the MCG after she called him an “ape”.

The moment Adam Goodes called out a teenaged girl for shouting a racist slur during a game against Collingwood in 2013.

Earlier this year Channel 10 aired The Final Quarter another documentary on Goodes, which traced the last three years of his AFL career, starting from that moment.

Through the use of media archives The Final Quarter does an excellent job of highlighting the poor treatment Goodes received during the final stages of what had been a stellar career. However, the film only provides a glimpse of the greater societal issues at play.

The Australian Dream presents its audience with the full picture by not simply focusing on Goodes’ football career, but his life growing up as an Indigenous man.

Opening up about the hardships he endured as a child allows the audience to form a connection with Goodes and empathise with him.

The Australian Dream also provides a necessary history lesson to remind audiences that the Goodes booing saga is not an isolated event in Australian history.

The film refers to instances of racism within AFL as well as broader examples such as colonisation and the Stolen Generation.

Director Daniel Gordon intertwines all these events throughout the documentary to show how Indigenous people have been and still are treated as inferior.

Although Goodes is a victim of racial vilification, he is never depicted as bitter or resentful.

Instead The Australian Dream showcases Goodes as a man who loves his country, but who is willing to call his country out when it fails him. 

The range of people interviewed throughout the film have been cleverly selected to highlight the identity crisis Australia is currently suffering.

Those interviewed in the film agreed, to some extent, that Goodes was mistreated and Australia still has a racism problem.

The dissenting voice came from controversial News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt. The conservative commentator, who was found guilty of breaching The Racial Discrimination Act in 2011 on a separate issue, uses his screen time to continue to blame Goodes for being racially abused.

While Bolt’s comments may be controversial, his voice represents a part of Australia determinedly unconvinced that casual racism remains a major problem.

Ultimately, The Australian Dream asks audiences what kind of country we want to live in – one where we work towards ending racism or one where we ignore the suffering of Indigenous people?