Booing and racist taunts forced dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes off the footy field he loved.
Instead of feeling accepted and safe on the field, he hated it because of the booing he endured during his final years as a Swans player.
"It (the football field) actually became a place I hated to walk out on to," Goodes says in documentary The Australian Dream.
The film, directed by Daniel Gordon, premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Thursday night and features candid interviews with the former AFL player.
It shows his rise from a talented schoolboy to a celebrated player and finally a passionate advocate for indigenous Australians.
Despite the confronting subject matter, the film is ultimately a story of hope, the film's writer Stan Grant said at the premiere.
"It's a very confronting, it's a very challenging thing. Ultimately, for me, it can be a story of redemption and it can be a story of hope," Grant said.
Aboriginal voices and experiences had to be listened to, he said.
"Australia needs to get past the idea that because you speak up and you speak against the idea of what other people may think Australia is, it doesn't mean that you don't also love your country and want the best for your country."
He called for the constitutional recognition of indigenous people and said treaties need to be negotiated.
"We need to deal with what Aboriginal people call the 'unfinished business of Australia', what is left over from our settlement. We are the only Commonwealth country not to have a treaty with our first peoples. The only one," Grant said.
Former Swans player and Goodes' best friend Michael O'Loughlin said parts of the film tipped him "over the edge".
Listening to what Goodes' mum, who was part of the Stolen Generation, had gone through was particularly hard, he said.
"Then she had to watch her boy play a game of football, imagine walking into an arena with 50,000 people booing your son or daughter, it's a really hard thing to take," he said.
But he said it had prompted important conversations with his children, who also found the film confronting.
NBA basketballer Ben Simmons, who is listed as an executive producer of the documentary, also attended the premiere but did not speak to media.
Some commentators said opposition supporters booed Goodes because he was staging for free kicks in his latter years.
In 2013, Goodes provoked a national conversation about racism when he demanded a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter who had called him an "ape" be removed from the ground.
He described the girl as the face of racism in Australia.
Australian Associated Press