ONEFOUR Netflix Documentary Reignites Tensions With Police

30 October 2023 | 10:45 am | Mary Varvaris

“I think it was the only film screening at SXSW to have metal detectors and undercover police.”

ONEFOUR 'Against All Odds' promotional photo

ONEFOUR 'Against All Odds' promotional photo (Source: Supplied/Netflix)

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The new ONEFOUR documentary, Against All Odds, has been a highly anticipated event since it was announced the film would premiere at SXSW Sydney and then air globally on Netflix.

Half about music and half concerning the group’s experiences with police, the Netflix page for the doco reads:

A group of Sydney-based, Pacific Islander kids start recording drill raps to avoid a life of crime. Two years into their meteoric rise, a police task force shuts down their sold-out national tour due to concerns that the group’s music will incite violence.

Director Gabriel Gasparinatos also aimed to showcase the human side of the outfit, telling the ABC on the program Pacific Beat, “What people knew was this group of rappers are being affected or targeted by this task force and the business of being musicians is being impeded, but it became about the families and the impact the raids had their parents and their siblings.”

In an interview with The Guardian Australia, Gasparinatos added that despite a positive community outlook at the SXSW Sydney premiere, the film was met with unprecedented police presence.

The community presence was “undercut by quite an obvious police presence in and around the theatre and outside,” Gasparinatos said. “I think it was the only film screening at SXSW to have metal detectors and undercover police.”

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ABC journalist and broadcaster Sosefina Fuamoli commented on the band’s impact, “What they're doing here is they are holding up a mirror to their actual experiences — it's in their successes that they're trying to break generational trauma.”

In a statement issued to The Guardian, NSW Police said they had “a high-visibility operation for the entirety of the SXSW festival”. 

“The premiere was just one of these said multiple locations,” they said. “While police provide safety and security advice to venues, promoters, and other stakeholders ahead of major events, the decision as to whether or not an event will proceed lies with the relevant venue.”

You can watch the trailer for Against All Odds below.

ONEFOUR’s experience at SXSW Sydney mirrors moments in the documentary and days we remember in the group’s canon, such as rap music being banned from this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show due to acts like ONEFOUR on the bill, allegedly banned from appearing at the 2019 ARIA Awards, their entire 2019 Australian tour axed, and other instances of their shows being shut down.

Upon the tour getting cancelled, the group claimed that venues had called off gigs following pressure from NSW Police.

In their statement to Instagram and Facebook, the group wrote: “Making and performing music is not a crime.”

“Our fans have never caused any issue at our concerts. So why can’t you see us perform?” they continued. “And when they tell you you’ve got to make a better future for yourself, why do they want to trap you in your past?”

They continued, “We’ll keep it moving forward. Much love to all the people who have stood up and shouted out their support.”

In June, ONEFOUR’s Celly was released from prison after serving a five-year sentence for an armed robbery committed in Penrith in September 2018.

News of his release circulated on social media, with ONEFOUR sharing a video of the group's reunion with Celly.

"5 YEARS LATER.. N IM BACK LIKE I NEVER LEFT," the accompanying video caption read.