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Australian Rules

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Gary Black, average footballer, reluctant hero.

Australian Rules tells the story of 16-year-old Gary "Blacky" Black (Nathan Phillips): average football player, budding wordsmith and reluctant hero.

Gary helps his local Australian Rules football team get the premiership by accident, falls in love with a beautiful aboriginal girl from the mission and becomes tangled in a terrible accident involving his best friend, Dumby Red (Luke Carroll), who's also his girlfriend Clarence's (Lisa Flanagan) brother, and his own father, Bob (Simon Westaway).

Australian Rules is the story of a backwards country town, unexpected love and the bravery of one young man.

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film Australia Australian rules football footy AFL aborigine white racism medal award death

Persons of interest

  • Nathan Phillips .... Gary "Blacky" Black
  • Luke Carroll .... Dumby Red
  • Lisa Flanagan .... Clarence
  • Simon Westaway .... Bob
  • Tom Budge .... Pickles
  • Celia Ireland .... Liz Black
  • Kevin Harrington .... Arks
  • Tony Briggs .... Pretty
  • Martin Vaughan .... Darcy
  • Kelton Pell .... Tommy Red
  • Max Fairchild .... Big Mac
  • Eileen Darley .... Shirl
  • Reece Horner .... Mark Arks
  • Michael Habib .... Tom McGuane
  • James Alberts .... Carol Cockatoo
  • Brian Torry .... Glenn Bright
  • Jonathon Tabaka .... Dazza
  • Catherine Hughes .... Sharon
  • Hannah-Claire Koblar .... Jenny
  • Harrison Gilbertson .... Greggy
  • Phillip Gwynne .... Author: Deadly, Unna?
  • Paul Goldman .... Screenwriter
  • Phillip Gwynne .... Screenwriter
  • Paul Goldman .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report


Australian Rules is to Bend it like Beckham as life is to soap opera. It's a film that is based on sport but is really about life: racism, friendship, betrayal, love, abuse. It's life at the bottom of the food chain and you know how I like to watch that.

Nathan Phillips is great as the ironically named Blacky, a little too short, a little too round to be the hero but ending up as the hero nevertheless, like Jason Biggs in the first American pie, before his publicist told him to cut down on the doughnuts. Nathan is an ordinary bloke stuck in the middle of some extraordinary situations: an abusive father, an inter-racial friendship, an inter-racial relationship, a murder and the finals of the greatest game on earth: footy. Oh, don't forget the rampaging hormones of middle puberty. Blacky's cute in an off-centre way and a loser in a sympathetic way and heroic in an accidental way and that makes him an icon of Aussie culture.

Another classic of Aussie life is Arks, the small fish in a smaller town, the little Aussie battler, the guy who can't say ask. Probably can't say desk, either. And he probably says haitch for h.


The issue of racism is handled with great understanding, no less focal and no less effective than Beneath clouds. It reminds me why i live in the chardonnay-swilling eastern suburbs of Sydney. Australian rules is a film about teenagers with none of the Hollywood Teen Flick clichés or patronising. Real people in real trouble.

And keep your hands off the Fruit and Nut chocolate.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Disc: Single side, single layer
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9
  • Special features:
    • Behind-the-scenes
    • Biographies: Cast
    • Gallery: Photo
    • Out-takes
    • Picture disc
    • Trailers: Theatrical

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence, drug use, adult themes)

Surveillance time

94 minutes (1:34 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: Undated August 2002
DVD rental: 8 January 2003
VHS rental: 8 January 2003

Cinema surveillance images

Australian Rules image

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Director's statement
Australian Rules tells the story of a young white boy growing up in a small coastal town in Australia.

It's about all the kinds of courage it takes to grow up in a country that still refuses to. It's about taking a stand, about the responsibilities of manhood and nationhood. It's about relationships: between fathers and sons, mothers and sons, husbands and wives, blackfellas and whitefellas. It's also about the courage it takes to love.

I wanted to make a film that talked back to this big, secret country that we live in.

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