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THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM gets 6/10 Swan song


Directed by Daniel Gordon

Featuring Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, Eddie McGuire

6/10

The Australian Dream is a well-intended but overly-insular documentary on race relations in current day Australia. The documentary follows indigenous AFL footballer, Adam Goodes, and the booing controversy that beleaguered him particularly in the 2015 season after he was named Australian of the Year in 2014.

The film lays out the details of the booing saga, and each incident highlights how late the overarching sports body, the AFL, was in responding to the issue. However, the film struggles to dig deeper than the surface of the issue, rendering the topic and Goodes himself, rather flatly.

While it’s fair to have Goodes tell his story, limiting the documentary to just his voice also limits the potential inclusion of all Indigenous people and their experiences in battling racism on a daily basis. The film benefits most when it does feature other Indigenous leaders, such as journalist Stan Grant. These additional voices prove greatly beneficial to the documentary, allowing it to explore racism outside of sport and the AFL.

The Australian Dream is most effective when it moves away from the Goodes’ scandal and focuses on the issue of race in a broader, more encompassing context. While it would be unreasonable to expect the film to provide solutions, it is sad to report that it struggles to serve even as a reflective conversation starter.

The Australian Dream examines some timely and essential topics that are worth exploring in detail. However, all that’s detailed here is the series of events that Goodes faced and how it made him, and other Indigenous Australians, feel. This infamous saga has now gotten one of two documentary treatments (the other being the recently released The Fourth Quarter) that captures the rage, disappointment, and tribulations of this moment in recent Australian history. Even though this documentary doesn’t aim high enough to go beyond recounting the events and emotions of this cultural shame, at least this cultural shame has now been stamped into our records.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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