First Nations filmmaker Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology) follows a group of NRL stars as they create a pre-game performance to meet the famous haka.
For over a decade, NRL players including Dean Widders, Preston Campbell, Timana Tahu and George Rose have been leading the movement for a First Nations Australian equivalent to the haka
. Widders faced discrimination throughout his career and for him the ceremony is a way of celebrating Indigenous Australia’s contribution to the game. In 2012, dancer and choreographer Sean Choolburra came on board to help. Working with NRL players, he came up with a series of movements that reflected cultural symbols. The goal was to perform the symbolic dance at the 2020 New Zealand-Australia Test but COVID-19 halted their plans. Behrendt’s rousing documentary, also featuring the Bangarra Dance Company, Stan Grant, Adam Goodes, Michael O’Loughlin and many more, traces the game’s troubled relationship to its Indigenous stars, to its previous failed attempts at a pre-game ceremony and to a triumphant performance on-stage at Sydney Festival.