We acknowledge Australia’s First Nations People as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land, and pay respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, upon whose Country SFF are based.
We honour the storytelling and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

The Defenders

Directed by Matthew Bate
81 minutes
Former Socceroos captain, Craig Foster, and a team of human rights activists, challenge two monarchies and world sporting body FIFA to rescue the life of a fellow player Hakeem al-Araibi.
When talented Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi steps off the plane in Thailand for his honeymoon, he finds himself facing an Interpol arrest order for alleged terrorism offences. What unfolds is the gripping true story of a heroic whistle-blower who, on speaking out about his own torture, sets off a revenge plot involving three countries, two royal families and the world's most powerful sporting body, FIFA. As Hakeem awaits extradition back to Bahrain, a group of campaigners led by a retired Australian football captain Craig Foster fight for his release.

Special Guests

Matthew Bate
Matthew Bate’s debut feature film Shut Up, Little Man! (SFF 2011) premiered in competition at Sundance 2011. Other projects include 2014 Dendy Award winner, I Want to Dance Better at Parties .
Craig Foster
Following a decorated football career as Australia’s 419th Socceroo and 40th Captain, Craig Foster quickly became one of Australia’s most respected sports broadcasters.

A member of the Australian Multicultural Council, Craig works across a vast range of social programs – from indigenous rights and self-determination, homelessness and domestic violence, climate action, gender equality – and is particularly well known for his refugee advocacy.
Hakeem al-Araibi
Hakeem was born in Bahrain and began playing soccer at a young age. He joined the national youth team and later played for the senior team, becoming a prominent player in the Bahraini Premier League. However, he was critical of the Bahraini government and its treatment of athletes and was eventually arrested by authorities in 2012.

Following his release, al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014, where he was granted asylum and later permanent residency. He continued to play soccer in Australia, joining the semi-professional team Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne. He also became an advocate for human rights and democracy in Bahrain, speaking out about the injustices he had experienced and witnessed.


Thu 15 Jun
Event Cinemas George Street - Cinema 5
Assisted Listening
Past Event Cancel
Presented By
Program Strand
Documentary Australia Award
In English and Arabic with English subtitles
Matthew Bate
Gal Greenspan, Alice Burgin
Matthew Bate
Alex Cardy
Bryan Mason, David Scarborough
World Premiere
Documentary, Human Rights, Australian Films, World Premieres, Sport
Company Credits
Australian Distributor: Amazon Studios
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