Still from The Australian Dream

Film Review: The Australian Dream

Daniel Gordon’s heartfelt documentary about racism, football and contemporary Australia.

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Racism has been a central talking point in our country since its inception. The words, Terra Nullius, hang over the heads of an entire culture like a never-ending curse, yet as years go by the sands of time erode at the memory of history. It was Adam Goodes who raised his voice in an attempt to keep that memory alive, he wasn’t the first but what awaited his outcry was a cacophony of hate that tore at him piece by piece.

The Australian Dream is a documentary that follows the story of Adam Goodes but the film is about much more than that. It’s about the ongoing systematic racism that seeps through Australian culture. It is about the history of hate and oppression that has plagued people before Goodes stood up and continues after. It’s more than Goode’s story but everyone like him. 

Director Daniel Gordon has experience in producing provocative documentaries. Previously putting together Crossing the Line, about a US soldier who defected to North Korea, Daniel specialises in picking out the oddities in the stories that surround us. Whereas the recently released documentary, The Final Quarter, focused on the incidents surrounding Adam Goodes himself, The Australian Dream expands beyond this. From Goodes beginnings in North Ballarat to the testimonies from Nicky Winmar and Gilbert McAdam who endured abuse during their own time on the field. With interviews from figures within the football, media and political spheres, The Australian Dream acts as a case study not into Adam Goodes but into racism and the harrowing effects it can have on people who decided to take a stand against it.

This work doesn’t do anything new in the arena of documentaries. It follows your fairly typical outline with Adam’s humble beginnings to the dizzying highs and absolute lows to the final redemption. Throw in all a bunch of talking heads and archive footage and you have your documentary. That’s not to say this isn’t a well-done presentation though. In following a common formula, it has executed itself in outstanding fashion. The aesthetics of their interviews, the delivery and sequence of its content and use of moving and atmospheric music all builds this vision of hate and anguish that has accumulated and festered within Australia. Regardless of what side of the argument you’re on or what your opinions on the people involved are this is still a film you should take a moment to see. Over the period of three years a storm was whipped up that left a lot of hurt and wounded. Seeing the events unfold within an hour and a half puts a new perspective on it and gives it a different impact.

The Australian Dream opens on August 22nd.

Eye-opening 3.5 stars

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