It’s a fact: there aren’t nearly enough movies about the greatest game of all, rugby league. There are a few quality dramas (Broke, The Final Winter, This Sporting Life), a warm-hearted family flick (Footy Legends), a comedy (Chasing Comets), a TV movie (The First Kangaroos), a ripper of a doco (The Fibros And The Silvertails), and some solid TV-style home entertainment releases (That’s Rugby League, 25 Years Of State Of Origin etc)…but that’s about it.
Thankfully, we now have another piece of footy cinema to grab hold of, with production just beginning on the new documentary, Sharko. Directed by energetic young Broke producer, Luke Graham, this will be no run-of-the-mill sports doco, as the subject is a deeply personal one for the filmmaker. Sharko will focus on Luke Graham’s father, Mark Graham, widely regarded as the greatest New Zealand rugby league player to ever lace up a boot.
Reared on the mean streets of Auckland’s rough-and-tumble Otahuhu, Graham moved to Australia in 1980 (“When I came to Australia I got a big laugh out of what you call ’gangs’… trust me, they are nothing compared to Kiwi-land,” Graham once said), where he played with Norths Brisbane Devils before he captained the late, great North Sydney Bears. He led the New Zealand national team against the powerhouses of Australia and Great Britain in the eighties, and just a week back, he was the first Kiwi to be inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was named at second row in the New Zealand Kiwis Team of the Century, and was also further honoured as New Zealand’s rugby league Player of the Century. Post playing career, Graham coached the Warriors for two years.
If any rugby league player is deserving of his own documentary, it’s Mark Graham. “It’s quite surreal,” says the Kiwi great. “I hope that people will find value in this documentary of my life so far.” Here’s hoping that Luke Graham will chat to the legendary Noel “Crusher” Cleal, who infamously took the inspirational Mark Graham out of a trans-Tasman test at Lang Park on 18 June 1985 with a notorious cheap shot. Whether Crusher comes clean or not, there is certain to be plenty of drama in the doco, which will also look at the many challenges and tragedies that Mark Graham has faced off the field. “I am a big fan of sports biographies and when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to not only make a film about my dad, but to also learn his journey, the ups and downs,” says Luke Graham.
A teaser trailer will be released later this year, though a premiere date for the documentary is yet to be announced. Stay tuned to FilmInk for more info.