Film celebrates Falcons inclusive journey

September 3, 2023 BY

Seen: Mitch Nivalis on field with fellow Mount Alexander Falcons players during the filming of the documentary Equal the Contest. Photo: PENNY RYAN

FILMMAKER Mitch Nivalis will be at Emporium creative hub next week to chat about their documentary film Equal the Contest.

The film began as a project during Nivalis’ Master of Photography, when an inclusively worded poster from the Mount Alexander Falcons drew their attention.

“Because I’d never seen the term ‘gender diverse’ used in a sporting context, I was really curious to know what kind of people start a club that is really explicitly is encouraging people from diverse backgrounds,” Nivalis said.

“I thought that could be a great thing to document and to use that idea for my masters.”

Nivalis said as soon as they had a kick of the footy, they immediately felt like a kid again and knew they had to join.

“I’d always wanted to be playing rugby league as a kid and never allowed and so to finally feel like ‘oh my god’, there’s this ball in my hand and I’m feeling what it feels like to kick it and to be tackled and to lay tackles,” Nivalis said.

The film documents Nivalis’ personal experience of learning to play footy at the age of forty-two for a team that is actively inclusive of women and gender diverse players.

Nivalis said in the beginning they were worried that their story would not find an audience but once the trailer was released, realised the themes were connecting with a lot of people.

“People were watching a two-minute trailer and telling me that they cried and it made me think that maybe this is going to resonate well beyond my own story,” they said.

Part of the film’s success according to Nivalis is that women and gender diverse people in sport are not often given screen time.

“I think finally seeing people that look like yourself and that could be particularly relevant to queer people and particularly relevant to people with body shapes and sizes that are not the traditional sporting bodies and to see yourself up on a screen it’s massive,” they said.

The film recently premiered in Sydney at the Queer Screen Festival and Nivalis said it had resonated equally with a New South Wales audience.

“What’s been happening at all the screenings is that people are coming up and starting to tell their own stories about exclusion and their relationship to sport,” they said.

Equal the Contest is not yet available to on mainstream streaming services but can be accessed via equalthecontest.au.

Nivalis will be in conversation with Christian Leavesley of Arena Theatre at Emporium Creative Hub at 1pm on Wednesday 6 September and tickets are available via Eventbrite.