The director of The Final Quarter, a documentary film about the final three years of Adam Goodes' football career, says he wants the film to be screened in classrooms around the country to show children the impact racism and discrimination can have on a person.
The film, which screened at the Sydney Film Festival on Friday night, has already sparked some discussion about the events that lead up to the two-time Brownlow medalist and former Australian of the year walking away from the game.
Earlier this week, prominent Indigenous players revealed their angst, saying they wished they had done more to support Goodes during the later stages of his career.
Talking to NITV News, Mr Darling said he was motivated to make the film after booing towards Goodes in 2015 intensified and the #IStandWithAdam movement was born. Despite vocal public support away from the grandstands Goodes decided to leave the game shortly afterwards.
"I thought to myself, ‘how could we let that happen, how could we as a nation, let one of the greatest sporting heroes and identities leave the game,'” said Mr Darling. “He was literally being booed at, booed from the game and we literally just buried the conversation.”
Mr Darling said watching the film for the first time was a "very emotional experience” for Goodes.
“I think it was so difficult having to relive all the events that happened ... he could only watch it once,” he said.
Consisting entirely from archival footage and news reports on the former Sydney Swans star and the events that led to his retirement, the film begins with Goodes kicking the winning goal in the 2012 AFL grand final.
It then follows in chronological order the events that led to Goodes’ exit from the game, specifically the incident in 2013 involving a 13-year-old girl calling Goodes an “ape” during a game against Collingwood at the MCG. The girl was escorted from the ground after Goodes called out her racist remark.
In 2015, the booing towards Goodes escalated after the incident with the girl was rehashed, a response that lead to the #IStandWithAdam movement.
“This is one of the first incidences that happened, when he called out the 13-year-old girl”, said Mr Darling. “There was a whole new narrative that developed about how he was aggressive to the 13-year-old."
“What’s interesting is when you go back and look at the actual media conference the following day, on 27 occasions we counted… he actually supported the girl and said, ‘it is not her fault… I don’t want you to go after her.'”
Mr Darling said he hopes the film will go a long way in allowing the wider community to understand the “damage that racism can have on Indigenous Australians and society”.
“When you see the film you actually see racism at work, so I think it will give everyone the opportunity to discuss in the classroom what racism is, where it comes from, to identify what Indigenous Australians have had to put up with for decades and to enable students to look at things from someone else’s perspective,” he said.