National Indigenous Television (NITV) and Screen Australia are thrilled to announce the commission of The Fight Together, which will premiere in 2021.
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, that could celebrate Aboriginal cultures and help to counter racism in rugby league. Their goal was, and remains, to use the dance to change the hearts and minds of all Australians. 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.
Featuring fellow NRL greats, Timana Tahu, Preston Campbell and George Rose, Widders encourages his fellow sportsmen to embrace the dance and make it their own. In their quest to change the hearts and minds of all Australians, the men lobby footy fans, sports people, politicians and prominent Australians, including Stan Grant, Adam Goodes and Russell Crowe, to get on board with a new type of acknowledgement that could bring the country together.
This feature documentary follows Widders exploring story and culture on Country across Australia, but also combines the cinematic surprise of seeing the dance, usually the purview of footballers, being performed by the pre-eminent Bangarra Dance Theatre. Ultimately, the film provides an intimate insight into a passionate man’s pursuit of a long-held goal.
“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.”
Director, Larissa Behrendt AO, 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’s 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.”
The Fight Together is an Essential Media production for NITV, produced by Sam Griffin with Executive Producers Brendan Dahill and Paul Wiegard. Principal production investment from Screen Australia, in association with NITV. Financed with support from Screen NSW and the National Rugby League. Distribution by Madman Entertainment.