24 user 9 critic

Australian Rules (2002)

In Prospect Bay, a remote outpost on the South Australian coast, two communities, the Goonyas and the Nungas, come together on the one field they have in common, the football field. But the... See full summary »


Paul Goldman


Paul Goldman (screenplay), Phillip Gwynne (novel) | 1 more credit »
7 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nathan Phillips ... Gary 'Blacky' Black
Luke Carroll Luke Carroll ... Dumby Red
Lisa Flanagan Lisa Flanagan ... Clarence
Tom Budge ... Pickles
Simon Westaway Simon Westaway ... Bob Black
Celia Ireland Celia Ireland ... Liz Black
Kevin Harrington Kevin Harrington ... Arks
Martin Vaughan ... Darcy
Tony Briggs ... Pretty
Brian Torry Brian Torry ... Glenn Bright
Max Fairchild ... Big Mac
Eileen Darley Eileen Darley ... Shirl
Paul Simpson Paul Simpson ... Bar Regular
Denis Noble Denis Noble ... Bar Regular
Kelton Pell Kelton Pell ... Tommy Red


In Prospect Bay, a remote outpost on the South Australian coast, two communities, the Goonyas and the Nungas, come together on the one field they have in common, the football field. But the underlying racism and class warfare threatens to make the team's greatest victories irrelevant. This holds particularly true for Blacky, a white teen who is more interested in books than sport, and his best friend, Dumby, the Aboriginal star of the team.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Play by the rules. Live by the rules. See more »


Drama | Romance | Sport


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

29 August 2002 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Afstralezikoi kanones See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$61,607 (Australia), 30 August 2002, Limited Release
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


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Did You Know?


The film was made and first released about four years after its source novel 'Deadly, Unna?' by Phillip Gwynne, who also co-wrote the film's screenplay, had been first published in 1998. See more »


The sign on the door seen when Blacky's dad is looking for the burglars has the text, 'LEH Lounge'. This is an indication of the shooting location, the Lord Exmouth Hotel. Although secondhand fittings and fixtures are used in community facilities in small Australian communities, it unlikely that the Prospect Bay Hotel would have used a secondhand door. See more »


Gary 'Blacky' Black: Old man's Fruit and Nut?
Liz Black: Old man's Fruit and f***ing nut
See more »


Referenced in Behind the Scenes of Australian Rules (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Strong debut feature marred by lack of consultation
11 August 2002 | by richard_wattsSee all my reviews

Paul Goldman's debut feature film 'australian rules' is a thought-provoking film about racism and relationships. It is an accomplished work, with beautiful but never flashy cinematography by DOP Mandy Walker (Lantana, Love Serenade) and strong performances by its cast, including Nathan Phillips as the young protagonist Blacky, Luke Carroll as his Aboriginal best mate Dumby Red, and Celia Ireland as Blacky's mother.

Sadly, the film-makers' lack of consultation with the indigenous community of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia has resulted in significant - and to my mind well-founded - criticism of the film. Based on the young adult novel 'Deadly, Unna' by Phillip Gwynne, the film is based on actual events - the deaths of two young Aboriginal youths in 1977, shot and killed by the publican of a hotel they were attempting to rob. No mention of this is made in the credits of 'australian rules'.

The film contains characters and scenes recognisable and identifiable to the families of the dead youths. Consultation with these families should have taken place from the moment the book was mooted as a film, not - as happened - when the film was already in production. This lack of consultation/awareness of Aboriginal culture and its sensitivities concerning death, mars what is otherwise a good film, leaving the film-makers open to allegations of racism.

Is 'australian rules' a racist film? I don't think so. Racist characters and phrases in the film go unchallenged, yes, but hopefully audiences are intelligent enough to see the truth for themselves, without needing clumsy and obvious cinematic signposting from characters or the film-makers saying 'this is bad'.

Overall, I recommend 'australian rules' to viewers, but I wish that the film-makers had shown more respect towards our indigenous culture rather than riding roughshod over the grief of the families involved.

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