With support from Screen Australia, NITV has commissioned NRL feature documentary The Fight Together, directed by Larissa Behrendt and produced by Sam Griffin for Essential Media.
The film will document how a group of NRL greats came together to invent a new pre-game ceremony in response to the Maori Haka – one that could celebrate Aboriginal cultures and help to counter racism in rugby league.
Specifically, The Fight Together follows NRL star Dean Widders’ journey to make that happen. His efforts have already culminated in the new Indigenous war cry being added to the start of the 2019 NRL Indigenous All Stars – the first step in Widders aim to see the Australian Kangaroos perform the dance before their test matches.
The film will feature other NRL greats Timana Tahu, Preston Campbell and George Rose, as well as Stan Grant, Adam Goodes and Russell Crowe.
The Fight Together will receive a theatrical release via Madman Entertainment, before airing on NITV in 2021. Financed with support from Screen NSW and the National Rugby League, the project is executive produced by Brendan Dahill and Paul Wiegard.
Widders said: “I’m just trying to reinvigorate people to think about culture and how it makes you stronger. I want these conversations about the dance to lead to bigger and better things, and for people to drive the conversations themselves and do whatever they see the need to do with it. That’s been my aim all the way along, to try and encourage other people to take this dance further.
“Australia needs to show it has matured and put Aboriginal culture and history in its rightful place. Rugby League and the Kangaroos have a great opportunity to bring people together through this dance.”
Behrendt said: “This is a story of the strength of culture and the spirit of determination that speaks to important and timely conversations about reconciliation and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in national narrative.
“I wanted to make this film because I am drawn to stories where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are agents of change and that show the transformative power of Aboriginal cultures.”
SBS director of Indigenous content and NITV channel manager Tanya Orman said: “NITV are proud to support The Fight Together and showcase a vital part of Indigenous culture.
“Dean’s journey is incredibly inspiring, and a wonderful way to increase the conversation around culture in Australia.”
Screen Australia head of documentary Bernadine Lim said: “We are proud to support this film from director Larissa Behrendt who has a strong track record of creating considered and thought-provoking documentaries, and this project will showcase Dean Widders’ leadership in celebrating Indigenous culture and combatting racism.”