During this time, the champion footballer for Sydney Swans, dual-Brownlow medalist and Indigenous leader became a lightning rod for an intense public debate and widespread media commentary that divided the nation starting with an incident in 2013, when a 13-year old girl in the stands called him an “ape”.
In these last years of his career, Goodes was named Australian of the Year in 2014 for his community work and anti-racism advocacy, was accused of staging free kicks and performed an on-field war dance celebration. He was the target of a sustained booing campaign from opposition fans took its toll and he left after a career total of 372 games. Some claimed the boos were because they hated how he “staged” for free kicks, though in a ranking of other players in 2015, Goodes was close to 200th and no other players received the hate campaign that he did. In 2019 the AFL formally apologised to Goodes for not taking greater action to defend him against the abuse.
Using only archival footage aired during this time, Director Ian Darling (Suzy and the Simple Man, SFF 2016). The footage is expertly edited: a technique seen most recently in documentaries such as Amy and Senna, which results in a compelling and powerful film.
This impassioned film tracks Australia’s response to the long media cycle that eventually drove the champion footballer out of the game he loved and out of the limelight and encourages the viewer to really question the treatment Goodes received.