Racist taunts and booing made Brownlow medallist and premiership player Adam Goodes hate stepping on to the football field.
The Australian Dream, which premiered in Melbourne on Thursday night, is told from the perspective of the former Sydney player and featured interviews.
"It (the football field) actually became a place I hated to walk out on to," Goodes says in the documentary.
But it had initially been the place where he felt accepted and safe.
"Football, for me, was a place where I got accepted for being a good footballer," he said.
Despite the confronting subject matter, however, the film was 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.
"No one wants to be the angry Aborigine.... 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."
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 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.
Star 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.
The film charts the former footballer's rise from before he was drafted and follows his retirement from the game.
Australian Associated Press