Araatika: Rise Up!

Director Larissa Behrendt / 2021 / Australia

For Indigenous Australian rugby league players, a pre-game ‘unity dance’ is an important step towards celebrating their cultures and combating entrenched racism.

Former National Rugby League (NRL) star Dean Widders is a man on a mission. After fellow Indigenous players Preston Campbell, Timana Tahu and George Rose devised their own pre-game performance to match the haka of their Maori counterparts, Widders began a journey to bring this dance – and First Nations pride more broadly – to the game. So far, his advocacy has garnered support from the Indigenous All Stars league, but his dream is to have Australia’s national team adopt this unifying battle cry.

The bonds between sport and community are at the forefront of this powerful documentary by celebrated writer/director Larissa Behrendt (Under Skin in Blood, MIFF 2015; Clan, MIFF 2014). Featuring several NRL greats, prominent First Nations figures like Stan Grant and Adam Goodes, and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Araatika: Rise Up! is the story of one man’s determination and a spirited call-to-arms to stand behind Indigenous Australia.

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